|Gates to Olympic Stadium. Photo (c) by Michele Luck.|
As soon as we arrived, we all exited the bus and started down the hill. This is when Steve and I learned one very important travel lesson: You do not and should not stay with your tour group if that's not your thing! As some lit up their cigarettes and others marched at their own, very slow pace, Steve and I became more anxious to get to the real stuff! We marched ahead and gave up the wonderful commentary for our personal space and freedom to roam. It was marvelous.
We saw the Zeus Temple, the Stadium field, the Entrance Gate, the housing area for the athletes, and we read every sign before us on the history of the remains. We learned about the past, but also learned about our present world, including a lesson that was reinforced almost everywhere we went... Much of what we see today is a recreation of what is believed to be of the past. The more we saw the evidence of this fact, and the more we heard tour guides discussing the "rebuilt" this or "reconstructed" that, the more disappointed we became that we'd fallen for so many stories of history, when in reality, we don't really know the truth.
|Temples to the gods. Photo (c) by Michele Luck.|
|Temple of Zeus Remains. Photo (c) by Michele Luck.|
|New Archeological Dig Site. Photo (c) by Michele Luck.|
|Digging to reconstruct the past. Photo (c) by Michele Luck.|
|Closed dig site. Photo (c) by Michele Luck.|
|Reconstructed stadium area. Photo (c) by Michele Luck.|
The first woman took her place on the bench with plenty of room for her friend. But instead of allowing all three of us to share the bench, she instead swung her hips to the side, knocking me fully onto the ground, butt in the dirt. She looked down at me, a smug look on her face, and then turned to her friend, offering up the plentiful space now available. My pride was so hurt that I quickly rose, ran off toward Steve while dusting off my shorts, and tears streaming down my face.
When I finally caught up with Steve, he placed his hands on my shoulders to ask what was wrong. Concern was all over his face, and I was struggling for breath to speak. Finally, the words came out... "The old Italian lady bumped me off the bench!" I cried through short breathes as I continued slapping the dirt from my tuckus. And then, hearing my own words, I burst into laughter. "Are you hurt?" he asked. No, my bootie was fine; it was just my pride that was bruised.
As we made our way back to the bus, we laughed and joked about my butt-busting experience with the older Italian lady. At that point, we were so tired of the pushy Italians and their "take what they want" way of doing things. We'd been on the cruise ship for 3 days with majority Italians, and we'd been shoved at the breakfast buffet, refused seating in the lounges, cut in front of at the dinner line, and talked over so many times that we were simply tired of the "Italian way!"
Now I must clarify on our views of the Italian culture! I LOVED Italy. It was a country filled with beauty and there were people that were as great as they were evil. This same description could be said of the French, British, Germans, Greeks, or even Americans (myself included) that we've met along our travels. However, the Italian culture, which we now much better understand, is one so different from our own. They grasp for personal space, they speak loudly for emphasis, and they demand rather than request. And this is what we love about the culture... as much as we hate it!
So, when we remember our trip to the ancient ruins of the first Olympics, what will I think about first? Not the amazing columns still standing, the incredible archway where great Olympians once walked, not the fortresses built to honor the gods; I will instead think about my bruised ego - on both ends!