What a spectacular morning in Ithaca! With Sea Cloud anchored just offshore in the natural harbor of Vathy, we departed in Zodiacs to explore the island home of Odysseus, the Greek hero. Odysseus famously spent ten years cursed by Poseidon, toiling to return home after the Trojan War. All the while, his faithful wife, Penelope, and his dutiful son, Telemachus, fought off the advances of a host of suitors eager for Penelope’s hand and with it the Kingdom of Ithaca.
This morning, we disembarked early in Katakolon to begin our overland trek to Olympia, the home of the Ancient Olympic Games, dating back to the 8th century BC. The archaeological site has been investigated for more than 100 years, and new discoveries are still being made. Our visit to the site was filled with the whirring sounds of the summer cicadas. We were lucky to have plenty of shade and a cool breeze as we explored the ancient training grounds, where the best athletes of the Ancient Greek world gathered under a flag of truce to prepare for the competition to honor Zeus. The entrance to the stadium, an underground arch standing since antiquity, leads from a collection of inscriptions intended to embarrass past cheaters in the games–sort of a hall of ignominy rather than a hall of fame! The morning finished with a visit through the truly stunning museum that houses the pediment sculptures from Zeus’s temple, the 12 Labors of Heracles that once graced its roofline, and generations of offerings, large and small, to honor the gods and the champions of the games. Following our return to the ship, we sailed off the dock and headed on our way around the Peloponnesus toward our final port of Piraeus. Following a Greek buffet, we enjoyed a boisterous end to the evening provided by the talented crew of Sea Cloud . They led the guests and staff in a rousing round of sea shanties! Photo caption: The site was used for centuries, eventually growing to provide hotels and services for the gathered athletes, trainers, and later, spectators. Photo by Bill Saturno