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We awoke to cloudless skies in the Ionian Sea while sailing into Greece. Yesterday, HAL’s tour guide, Tom, described Katakolon as “the Skagway of Greece.” We can see why. It’s a tiny little town with a single main street, creatively named, well, “Main Street.” also like Skagway, it’s nearly sole purpose seems to be serving cruise tourism.

To beat the midday heat, we left the ship early for the ancient city of Olympia, home to the Olympic games starting on 776 B.C. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Katakolon to Olympia through a landscape filled with olive trees.

The ancient site of the Olympics is now mostly in ruins, having been abandoned for many years and subjected to numerous earthquakes. Most were buried under silt, but have now be excavated. Also, a few elements have been restored and reconstructed. The original stadium is remarkably modest. The highlight for us was seeing Hera’s Altar at which the Olympic torch is lit using sunlight every two years in advance of the games.

After seeing the archeological site, we visited the modern town of Olympia. We bought a guidebook to the ancient site and a present for Emerson. We then drove back to Katakolon. We briefly browsed around the town (it really is a Greek Skagway) and then headed back to the ship.

Where we got bad news…

The port call to Ravenna has been cancelled due to dredging issues. As a result, we’ll miss one country (San Marino) and will instead go to Trieste (which by all accounts is pretty much a shithole of a city). Needless to say, I’m a bit disappointed and honestly, being goal-oriented such as I am, more than a little pissed off too (mostly because I can’t really understand how something so logistical could also be a “last minute” change).

In any case, we are going to try to get to Slovenia instead from Trieste. Or, to put it another way, take this lemon and make some lemonade! Unfortunately, Internet access remains a problem and guidebooks don’t cover Trieste well. Thus, we’ll be flying more-or-less blind on this change of plans.

That’s all I will have to say for today.

Tomorrow is Corfu and Albania.

Here are pictures of Katakolon and ancient Olympia:

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