summer flashback :: dinner above olympia


As you know, I grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee, and where we live now, in Coastal Virginia, it's...  F L A T. Seriously, our highest point is an area called Hilltop which is like 9 feet above sea level. So, it felt really, really lovely to travel the hills of Greece.

The bus ride was wind-y and at times terrifying, but it was really lovely. After our trip to Olympia, our group headed high into the hills above the historic site for another lovely dinner.

I could do a whole post on our dinners in Greece, actually. They were the best part. I know I've talked before about how the organizers of the conferences go out of their way to find local spots with gorgeous, abundant, authentic food. Emphasis on abundant. Above Olympia the mezze was plentiful: platters of eggplant, lamb, insalata. The food kept coming. And, again, this was all before the entree! The wine was copious and the food more so. And then there was the view. We were perched high on the hillside, looking down into the valley where the original Olympians competed, and as the food came to us in waves, the sun slowly went down and the lights grew brighter and twinkled along the the mountainside.

The dinners can be hard too. A lot of science talk. Over our heads a bit for me and Cal. But people start to relax (the wine helps) and the talk flows as freely as the food. Regularly we sit at the table with men and women from all parts of the world. Italian, Swiss, German, French, Iranian, South American, Asian... Really. I could go on and on. So we share things. Like how early (or late) the sun sets. Or how much gas costs. Or who eats lamb and who eats beef. Whose kids start school in September and whose kids go year round. Science fades away for all but a stalwart few as cultural differences, and more importantly, similarities are shared.

Cal was taught some snippets of Swedish and Italian, and I taught one woman who spoke no English at all how to use her phone camera and edit a photo. It was great.

Because of scheduling issues, this same meeting will be held in the fall next year. If Neel can go (it always boils down to funding), we're torn. It's fall, and right at the start of school for Cal and Neel too) It's hard to miss school, for sure, and still. When I think about what he could gain by traveling to Greece even during the school year, I think about those dinners.

summer flashback :: discover olympia


I figured since you/know/who was headed to Greece this week, I'd take a look back on our trip there this summer. I'm not going to lie. It's been hard to look back at these pictures. As you know, we lost our Violet while we were traveling, and I've said before that this trip we took was not the best for me. Our trip to Delphi, which came the day after we got the news, passed in pretty much of a haze. A tear-filled eye phase, for me.

And that's a shame, because look at this place. The museum, which was reorganized in 2004, is stunning. It's not huge, and its size and relative intimacy makes you feel connected to the amazing works they have showcased there. I was particularly struck by how well lit the statues were. Compelling.

We were early in the season, just at the start of June, and our day was threatening storms. Because of this, when we got down to the actual ruins, our group of scientists (and their families) had the place to themselves. Cal and his friend Sam ran a footrace in the stadium (that profile shot of him above is from there) and we were free to wander to our hearts' content.

I was struck then, as I am now, how nature takes over. Grasses covering columns. Flowers finding purchase. Looking at these pictures now, I'm struck anew at the majesty of the place, but also, look how sad my boy was. We all were.

If you're interested in reading more about the history of the Olympics (More? I didn't even touch on it here! But you can see where the torch is lit every four years for the modern Olympic Games and that's pretty awesome sauce.) I can't recommend this book, The Naked Olympics, highly enough. Cal's Latin teacher recommended it to me (warning me that it was a bit bawdy, but I persevered), and it was great to have such a thorough background before our trip. Honestly, I recommend it even if you're not headed that way soon.

We headed up the mountains to dinner after our tour, and I'll be back on Thursday with some photos from that amazing meal. Nothing heals like food, you know.