Nafplio

Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Greece  ,
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

34 Hours of travel later... Breakfast on the Mediterranean, dinner on the Adriatic, slept (sort of) on the Ionian and lunched on the Mirtoon Sea. Over 1,200 km traveling by train, ferry, and bus, it was quite the journey across two countries. Our ferry was actually quite nice and not too busy. We managed to cajole a few rows of airplane style seats for the 15-hour ferry ride to Greece (Meg made the most of it - see pic). Once we arrived in Patras we had to catch a train to Corinth and then a bus to Nafplio. We expected some form of immigration yet we were only met in the port by a pushy taxi driver wanting to drive us the whole way "for a special price". Before we told him off (albeit politely) he told us that to get out of the port faster you just have to go through this random gate that was chained shut. Fortunately we were able to squeeze through the opening with our bags and we were at the train station within minutes. How dodgy is that?! The tourist office told us that the train stops in Corinth and we would be able to get a bus to Nafplio from the close-by bus terminal there. Once off the train in Corinth, we were told that the bus terminal (remember that it was described as a terminal twice now) was 6km away and could only be reached by taxi. We were lucky enough to see a city bus pull up and we managed to get a ride into town with some direction from the driver who pointed us to the 'terminal'. The 'terminal' consisted of a guy in a random café behind the counter serving coffee to locals. I still don't know how Meg figured out that this was actually the said terminal but it worked out. Once our bus arrived an hour and a half later, we managed to grab some standing room only space for the hour journey south. Sigh.
Thankfully Nafplio is a lovely spot with a very welcoming vibe. Nafplio is on the Peloponnesian coast about 145km south of Athens. It was the original capital of Greece after gaining independence in 1821 and seems to have kept a lot of the old world charm, at least in the old town. It is full, and we mean FULL of chic cafes and restaurants in elegantly marbled squares, along the peaceful promenade, and tucked throughout the old streets with very Venetian looking buildings. It is hard to imagine these establishments all filled. It must be crazy in high season as this is a popular getaway for Athenians on weekends.
We booked a place right in the old town that fit our budget. We were given four choices with relative pricing; A class, B class, C class, or D class. As budget conscious travelers, we picked D class. What we didn't know was that D class stood for "Don't-be-over-5'6"-or-you-won't-be-able-to-stand-up-without-hitting-your-head-on-the-ceiling-class". Seriously, not kidding (see pic). Meg even hits her head on the wooden beams. It is no wonder the guy who walked us to our room was giggling to himself on the way over. Besides that and the bathroom that leaves a little to be desired, it is a cute room with a perfect location. It is just steps away from the action and a heap of Greek taverns. After getting cleaned up and a quick nap in our thankfully normal sized bed, we headed out for some Greek eats. We found a place on the main street with excellent people watching potential and a mouth-watering menu. We decided that after such a long journey we earned a traditional Greek feast. Local wine, Greek salads, fried eggplant, zucchini, calamari, and octopus to start followed by pork souvlaki for me, and broad beans in a tomato sauce with a fried fish fillet for Meg. We both managed to force down some lovely fresh yogurt with honey for dessert. It was fabulous (as was the service) thankfully our hobbit room was only a few rolls away.
The next morning after a well deserved sleep-in, we basically strolled the streets window shopping and soaking it all up. It was a perfect day of doing nothing after an exhausting trip. We rounded the day out nicely with another Greek feast for dinner... we couldn't resist.
Our last day here, we got up and felt recharged from our day of rest. It was a good thing as the first task on the agenda was to check out the Palamidi Fortress. This is a fortress that encircles the entire summit of a mountain that overlooks Nafplio and the coast, and it is about 1,000 steps straight up. The place is massive and was built by the Venetians between 1711 and 1714. Unfortunately, the Turks conquered the Palamidi only a year later in 1715. Maybe they attacked during afternoon naptime or something because the fortress looks pretty serious. Regardless, the views from the top are amazing and well worth the climb and modest entrance fee.
Once back down in town, we wanted to check out the one and only Komboloi Museum. Kolomboi means 'Worry-Beads". It seems to be a Greek custom for some to carry these beads around as it helps them to focus, think, and find peace. It has come to be somewhat of a fashionable thing to carry these beads around. The museum explores the use of beads in other faiths as well such as the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Catholics. All of the other faiths use the beads as prayer counters (i.e. like the Catholic rosary). The collections here have beads dating from the 1700s and are made from various materials such as amber, faturan, coral, ivory, and bone.
Just down the street is the Vasilios Papantoniou Museum. It is pretty small but it houses a wonderful collection of Greek regional costumes from the last few centuries. The intricacy and vibrancy of the costumes even well into the 20th century are quite impressive. After only a day of exploring, we find it amazing just how much there is to discover about the Greeks and their history. We are looking forward to more of it so off to the epicenter that is Athens.
Megan and Kevin
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