I’m sure by now you have noticed that I’m a huge fan of sport. I like the competitiveness, the discipline and the energy of a live sport. I enjoy looking around and watching fans scream, cheer and come together for the greater good of their team. I was very lucky to visit the place where amateur sport began, and I could only imagine what it was like in those times.
Olympia was the first place to ever host the Olympic games. At the time, Olympic sports were very different. The athletes didn’t represent a country, instead they were meant to only entertain the world. Athletes (only men) would participate in neandrothol-like competition, at times to the death. As time passed, we obviously witnessed the evolution of the Olympics, but to stand in the very spot where the first torch was lit, where historical greats stood to observe the games is really quite moving.
So what is there to do in one of the oldest cities? Surprisingly, a lot more than just visit the historical grounds. The reality is Katakolan (Olympia) is a port town, so it can’t be compared to larger Greek towns. Stay for 24 hours and then get out. Here are some tips on what to see and how to get there.
Geotravel: Do not, I repeat do not pay for any type of tour. When you get to the Katakolan’s main town square, locate the Geotravel office. From there, you can pay 7 euros each for a small private drive to all the places on this island. The tour includes Olympia.
Carriage Ride: Take a romantic carriage ride through the Olympia grounds. The area is lined with pedestrian friendly paths and wonderful scenery. A horse-driven carriage will only amplify the experience.
Agios Andreas: A beautiful but tiny beach tucked away on the side of the main town. It’s packed, especially if there is a cruise stop that day. If you plan on skipping out on Olympia and making it a beach day, get there early or truthfully, you won’t find a place to sunbathe.
Restaurants: You will run into a number of outdoor restaurants as you walk through the main street. Now, which restaurant to pick is up to you. I do recommend looking at the menu and ensure that wherever you choose to eat serves their specialty fried cheese dish. Unbelievable.
Arte Cafe: Once you are ready to wrap up your day, make sure to stop off at the Arte Cafe and enjoy Greek espresso. The difference between espresso in Greece and anywhere else? It’s served with a touch of cream. Very strange, yet very good. And the view…tranquil.
Olympia: I know a lot of people who visit Katakolan debate on whether or not they should skip out on Olympia. I personally recommend the visit. You don’t have to appreciate sport or be a history buff to be floored by what used to exist there. It really is worth the visit.
So there you have it. If you happen to stop off in Katakolan or want to see the birthplace of the Olympics, I really do think it’s worth the visit. Don’t spend to much time on the island, all you need here is 24 hours.
Until next time….