Following Valkyrie as she sails about on the big blue...

Greece Trial

Katakolo, Olympia & Patras

Trial Run to Greece

As land-dwelling sailors for the past five-plus months, we jumped at the chance to join fellow Americans, the Heer family from San Francisco (whom we met at Tecnomar), on their journey from Rome to Greece. We left aboard La Zuccherina on April 1 with Mark, Luisa, Chester (age 10), Griff (age 6) & Poobah (Mark's dad, also from SF) and three and a half days later, we docked at Katakolo, a town on the west coast of the Peloponnese.

For our first meal ashore, we cleansed our pasta- and pizza-centric diets with Greek salad, cheese pies, red mullet and Ouzo.

Katakolo is a tiny town and thanks to its proximity to Olympia, draws cruise ships. Since the high season hasn't kicked in yet, the town was pretty dead.

On Friday, we escaped in miniature rental cars to Olympia to see the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The is also the locale of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World -- the lost gold and ivory statue of Zeus by Pheidias, which was originally in the Temple of Zeus.

During our 5-day stay in Greece, we got to practice deciphering Greek. I would like to take this moment to thank the Gamma Theta chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma at Drake University for making me so knowledgeable on the Greek alphabet. And with Minerva as my witness, I totally faced Ryan who was playing Mr. Greek Expert and making false claims about the various letters. Yes!

On Saturday, Ryan and I started our trek back to Italy which took us from Katakolo to Pyrgos where we caught the train to Patras. Since the train was late, we missed our night ferry and got to spend the night in the ferry-central city of Patras. The next night, we boarded the Maria G. ferry for Brindisi, Italy. From Brindisi, we caught a train to Rome. Twenty-four hours later, we were back in Rome.

After being tempted by the thought of Greek island hopping, we're ready to sail out of here, but the deck work is not finished. Estimated departure date is June 8.

Ryan on the Maria G. waiting to depart Patras.

View of Patras and ferry-filled harbour.

Ryan & Capt. Mark aboard La Zuccherina

Ryan in the Temple of Hera, built in 7th Century BC.

Fallen column drums of the Doric Temple of Zeus. Built between 470 and 456 BC. It was as large as the Parthenon. The Temple also held the Olympic flame which was kept alight from the time of the games to the following spring.

Tamra in the Temple just to give a little perspective on the size of these columns.

Tamra in the Stadia with the first Olympic track -- about 200 meters long -- in background. See small girl on the finish line. The contests began around the 11th century BC.