Visiting Olympia, Birthplace Of The Olympics On A Silversea Shore Excursion

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle
Dutch transplant: Silversea guide Saskia Alting made ours a memorable visit to Olympia on this morning’s Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

A guide can make or break a shore excursion. Some guides talk too much, understandably eager to tell you everything about their destinations but leaving you little time to reflect and absorb what you are seeing and hearing. Others simply lack the knowledge — or passion — to fully enrich your experiences in their destinations. Then there are those who are handicapped by their language skills.

Silversea’s shore excursions are distinguished by the quality of the guides, and yesterday as a small group of us from Silver Spirit toured the birthplace of the modern-day Olympics, we conceded that we were indeed lucky to be accompanied by Saskia Alting, a native of the Netherlands who has been living in Greece for more than two decades.

Saskia’s English skills were impeccable, her personality pleasing and her knowledge vast — and spooned out to us in manageable doses. We learned a lot about Greece and its current crisis. Although I have read a great deal about the crisis in Greece, I did not know that personal debt in the country is among the lowest in Europe. There is relatively little mortgage debt among the citizenry. Even in a good economy, Greek banks would lend only about 50 percent of a home’s value, Saskia told us. Thus, many Greeks had a hand (literally) in building their homes, producing sizable equity through sweat and hard work.

Saskia told us that she and her husband did some of the construction on their home. Although they have no mortgage payment, rising taxes makes many Greeks feel as though “they are renting their homes,” Saskia said. Complicating factors, wages have dropped dramatically. Her own income has dropped about 30 percent. She’s fortunate. Hotel maids who earned 600 euros per month before the crisis, Saskia told us, now earn about half of their former wages.

The insights into the Greek crisis were certainly topical as we traveled through a countryside of olive groves and rolling hills. I didn’t see a single person nodding off during the 35-minute return trip to the ship, as can often be the case after a morning or afternoon of touring.

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle
The Sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia. The original Olympic games began here nearly 3,000 years ago. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

In Olympia, Saskia led an informative tour through the excavated remains of ancient Olympia, one of the most important cities in classical Greece. Among the many sites we saw was the Sanctuary of Zeus, which lay in magnificent ruins. The temple housed the gold-and-ivory statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Nothing remains of the statue except for a rendering in the Archaeological Museum, which we also visited.

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle
The famous Nike statue at the Archaeological Museum in Olympia. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

The city played host to the original Olympic games in 776 BC. Take a moment to reflect on that number: We were walking the grounds where the first Olympic games were held nearly 3,000 years ago.

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle
Our small group visiting Olympia on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Our morning tour allowed us to spend a little more than an hour touring the Olympic grounds. In the Stadium, my son and I ran the Olympic track, which was not circular as we had expected. It measured a linear 212 meters (nearly 700 feet). Olympians ran back and forth (in high school, we called these sprints suicides), and several of us either walked or ran the course to say that we had been there, done that.

When we arrived back in Katakolon, Saskia thanked us for visiting, and, unsolicited, she accumulated a handful of euros in appreciation for the morning she had given us.

Yes, a guide can make or break an experience, and Saskia certainly had made ours memorable. That, in essence, is the definition of a Silversea shore excursion: to create memorable experiences ashore through quality guides, small groups and comfortable transportation.

The quality of a cruise line’s shore excursions is another one of those intangible components that prospective cruisers should factor in to the overall value of their cruises.

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excAn excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzleursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle
At the Archaeological Museum we saw Hermes Carrying the Infant Dionysus, sculpted by the great Praxiteles, discovered in the Temple of Hera in the place noted by the ancient travel writer Pausanias. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

More, In Photos: Check Out Our Slideshow

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

Visiting Olympia and the Archaeological Museum

An excellent tour visiting Olympia (Greece) and the Archaeological Museum on a Silver Spirit shore excursion. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Trouble viewing our slideshow? View on Flickr instead.

A Voyage of Memorable Tours

We’re currently cruising , and each day, a new and exciting adventure unfolds. A couple of days ago, we spent and . That was followed by a sea day, then docking this morning at Katakolon, where we toured ancient Olympia. Next up, Corfu, followed by one of the most beautiful transits in the world, to Kotor, Montenegro.

Silver Spirit docked in Katakolon, Greece
Silver Spirit docked in Katakolon, Greece, a sleepy town that awakens when cruise ships dock. Ours was the only ship in port yesterday, and we were the only group of passengers at Olympia, making for a relaxed tour of the ancient Olympic grounds, 30 minutes to 40 minutes from the dock by motorcoach. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Silver Spirit, Athens To Venice

Day 1Athens, Greece
Day 2Kusadasi, Turkey
Day 3Olympia, Greece
Day 4Corfu, Greece
Day 5Kotor, Montenegro
Day 6Dubrovnik, Croatia
Day 7Hvar, Croatia
Day 8Venice, Italy
Voyage Recap In Photos

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