One of the great things about the trip to Olympia, was the opportunity to spend time at the International Olympic Academy.
While some of my colleagues had slightly more comfortable accomodation at a regular hotel, the Academy was quiet (it’s some distance from civilisation), quaint (equipped with the basic amenities), and had quality food (think i actually lost a few pounds!).
Sprawled over 225 acres, the Academy sits along the side of a mountain, and is a 5 – 20 minute drive (depending on the route and the driver’s “need for speed”) away from the ruins of Ancient Olympia and the little town of Olympia.
And this was where I spent four nights that fizzled away… as quickly as an ice cube on the asphalt.
When we first got there, there was the headache of lugging the luggage, boxes, gear, etc which is all quite a bit to take in given the heat, but we eventually got into the swing of things. Soon after dumping my stuff in the room, I stood outside and took a few seconds to check out the view.
Also checking out the view (and probably us), were the Greek police who were literally a stone’s throw away (no I didn’t hurl any rocks at them). They were likely guarding the priestesses who were also holed up at the Academy.
And did I tell you about the food? Healthy balance of vegetables (as much Greek salad and Feta cheese as you can eat), fruit (all you can fork), protein (no fried chicken here!) and carbohydrates (potatoes, pasta, bread…). Miss it already.
Getting to see the Singapore flag flying proudly every day between the flags of Greece, the IOC, and the European Union was also goosebump-worthy, but I think my goosebumps just melted in the heat.
There’s also that mystical air about the place (maybe it’s got to do with that Greek font that I can’t read), and you feel like the world isn’t whizzing past you. Speaking of which, I did literally whizz pass a tortoise that was crossing the road into the Academy. :p Hope he/she made it ok…
Apparently I’m not the first to feel something special about this place. The late Juan Antonio Samaranch (Honourary IOC President) eloquently said:
I feel that this is the ideal place to reflect on the evolution of our society. We are in a haven of peace and balance, where centuries remain engraved on the stones, the meanders of the Alpheios river, the beauty of the vegetation and the serenity which pervades this unique place, Olympia, where sport started on its most glorious and finest course.
Sadly there was hardly any time to dawdle during the trip, but on my final drive out of the Academy, I took the time to pull over to the side of the road and snap this picture to remember my stay in the magical place nestled in the bosom of Ancient Olympia.
Wish I had more time to just chill. Maybe next time.
P.S. I changed the “theme” for the blog to accomodate bigger pics.