Docked this morning in Katakolon, Greece, a tiny town of 600; most of the homes here are summer places belonging to Italian gentry.
Despite its tiny size, Katakolon receives 700 cruise ships a year, which explains why the main street is entirely souvenir shops. The ships pull into port and disgorge their tourists who take buses to Olympia, the home of the original Olympics, and another great place to buy tourist junk.
If you want to actually see Olympia, you have to take the tour that walks 30 minutes over uneven ground to get to the ruins—that isn’t likely to be our style. So we took the bus that goes sort of near there, stops at hotel overlooking the valley for coffee, juice and pound cake, then goes straight to the tourist shops. It’s super hot here, about 95 today and humid. Even walking around the shops was too much for us, I know we would have hated the other tour.
Greece has been in the news about their economic crisis. Our guide told us that the nation has a population of only 10million, and there are over 700,000 government employees, an entirely untenable situation. As a result of the economic austerity measures imposed by the rest of the European Economic Community in exchange for a bailout, the price of gasoline has risen by 50% in the last month. They are paying €1.50/liter, about 15% more than the price I saw in Italy. That’s about $6.90/gallon, if I counted right.
All those public employees don’t seem to be doing much in terms of keeping the country looking good—there is more trash alongside the road here than I have ever seen in a presumably first world country. This lack of pride in the way their nation looks is not a good indicator, I think, of their drive to reform their system and get back on a good economic track.
Back onboard, some major napping broke out. We woke up just in time to rush down to dinner, where there was more than just sports talk at the table. We all had a good time today in Katakolon, although Micky and Linda were exhausted from hiking in the baking heat.
The evening entertainment was a man named Michel Bell, who was one of the Fifth Dimension 40 years ago and has made a career in theater and cabaret. Safe, secure and workmanlike, just like the company ordered.
Late night, we went to the 50’s and 60’s revue, and I even got Gail to dance with me a couple of times. Tomorrow, we hit Navplion, Greece. Another day, another adventure.