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A Day in Nafplion and Side Trip to Epidaurus?

More adventures in Greece!

sunny 85 °F

Good Morning from Nafplion, Greece!
We’re so fortunate to have such an incredible balcony view considering that we paid about $40/night for our room. Today, we planned to go to Nafplion itself to see the sights. It’s about 15 minutes from our hotel in nearby Tolo. The first thing that we saw upon arrival was that nobody here seems to have any parking etiquette. On almost every street, cars were double parked, blocking other cars in.
After finding a parking spot where we weren’t blocking anyone in, we walked the streets of Nafplion and I was immediately reminded of Venice. Essentially, Nafplion is Venice without the canals. Every street could be a postcard and every building is just weathered enough to give it character. It was funny because I later learned that Nafplion was once a shipping port controlled by the Venetians, who had constructed many of the buildings.
Here is your typical restaurant in Nafplion. It was the most charming restaurant you could imagine, and yet right next door was another beautiful restaurant that was just as worthy of a postcard.
There was even artisan shops such as this one where shoes and sandals were being made by hand.

After losing ourselves in the beauty of this small town, we eventually made our way to the Archeological Museum, which was at the top of Kristine’s list of things to do. Arthur estimated an hour there, and at 2 euros each, it seemed like a steal. How wrong we were. The museum consisted of 2 small rooms, and the attraction that Arthur mentioned was 30,000 year old artifacts, the extent of which can be seen here:
Despite Arthur’s hour estimation there, we struggled to spend 10 minutes at the museum just to try get our money’s worth. Oh well.

After the museum, we headed for Acronapflia, one of three forts that historically guarded the city. It was a bit of a hike, but afforded us some incredible views of the city.
Kristine was tired at the top, but little did she know what was in store later.
While at the top, we stopped to have the lunch we had packed. Kristine had a turkey and feta sandwich and I had a peach and yogurt.

Next up was the top attraction on my list, Fort Palamidi.
According to Arthur, it had 999 steps and provided incredible views of the city. We doubted that there just happened to be 999 steps and joked about counting them, but then we started counting and took a picture on every hundredth step. Notice how Kristine looks less and less enthused as we climb higher.
Here you can see Kristine on the 100th step:
By 300, the smile was more forced:
Near the top, there were no smiles:
The actual count was 1036, but there were multiple high peaks at the top of the fort, so its possible that one of them was 999 total steps.
At around 945 steps, we had to pay to get in to the fort which was funny. I guess by the time you have done all that work, you’re not going to cheap out of paying, but at the same time, I would have been pretty angry if we hadn’t thought to bring cash. I don’t envy the guy that has to walk to the top of the fort for work every day. One saving grace of just about everywhere we have been is that tickets are half price for non-EU students who show their student IDs (its free for students in the EU). When we handed the worker our student IDs, he went on a 10 minute rant about how student IDs from the US don’t have expiration dates so you can’t tell if they are still students. We tried to hold back laughter as we were one of what I’m sure is many recent grads from the states using their old student IDs. During his rant, he said that in Greece, the student IDs have expiration dates, but driver’s licenses don’t, which to him makes sense because once you become a driver, you are always a driver. It’s the opposite in America, with expiration dates on licenses but not student IDs, so I guess its just funny what you’re used to.

It was absolutely remarkable to admire how this enormous fort must have been constructed. I can’t imagine how huge stones were carried up all 999 stairs hundreds of thousands of times to build such an immense structure. The views from the top were more than worth the walk.
After wandering around the 3 different towers at the top of the Palamidi, it was time to take 1000+ steps back down.

When we reached the bottom, we had a few hours to kill and had seen most of what we wanted to see, so we decided to take a jaunt to Epidaurus, which Arthur recommended and was just 15 minutes away. The theatre at Epidaurus is one of the best-preserved theatres in Greece, and its 55 rows still hold crowds for performances today. As with most of Greece, street signs to sites of historical significance are pretty well marked, so we found our way there without too much trouble. Unfortunately, when we got there, the sign said that it was closed and a “work in progress,” but we saw no evidence of work being done.
In addition to the theatre, there was supposed to be a sanctuary worth seeing, so we wandered around what ended up being a farmers’ field on a hill to no avail. On our way to Epidaurus, we had driven through fields of unfamiliar trees. I finally guessed that they were olive trees, and on our walk, we were able to see them up close and confirm that they were in fact olive trees:
We also saw a few bushes bearing what looked like rhambutans:
There were also acres upon acres of orange trees and even a few pomegranate trees, which we had never seen in person!
On the way back to Nafplion, we drove through towns so small that restaurants put tables in the street!

When we got back to Nafplion, we were starved and stopped in the central square, Syntagma Square, for dinner. I was a bit confused as to why both Athens and Nafplion had Syntagma Squares until I read that syntagma means constitution. If you look at this picture of Kristine at Noufara, where we went for dinner, you’ll notice that the place is empty.
It is true that dinner hour in Greece is around 10pm, but try as we might, we have not been able to hold out that long. With a breakfast of grilled cheese, juice and tea, I have no idea how the Greeks can make it until 10pm to eat dinner. The square provided incredible views all around:
We ordered 500mL of the house wine (about 2/3 of a normal bottle for 4euros/$5!!) and were content to linger after dinner like most Greeks seem to. We have noticed that after you are served food in Greece, you’re unlikely to ever see your waiter again until you somehow manage to track him down to get the check. However, most waiters carry fanny packs and can give you back your change on the spot. Usually we seem to be in a rush to go somewhere else, but tonight we took advantage of the great opportunity for looking out onto the square and people watching. There was one peddler with at least three dozen balloons that kept trying to casually walk in front of children playing in the square, and another who was selling helicopter-type toys that light up and shoot in the air. A little girl of about 10 in a fancy dress and a lot of makeup tried to sell us flowers. Across the way an old Greek woman on the second floor of a building lowered a basket down on a rope to the shop down below, then pulled it back up after the shopkeeper had put something inside. Here’s Syntagma Square after we finally decided to leave the restaurant.
After dinner, we walked down the “promenade,” passing the restaurants and shops on the water. We even found one of the funny looking short and fat palm trees that they have here bearing an interesting looking fruit

When we had done sufficient walking and window-shopping, we went back home to plan our time in Santorini. Tomorrow we’ll catch a 3pm ferry from Piraeus (port city minutes from Athens) that gets to Santorini at 10pm. To make the most of the day, we’re going to try to visit the ruins at either Mycenae or Corinth on the way to Athens, which is a two-hour drive from Nafplion. To be safe, we're shooting for a 1pm arrival at Avis to give us time to return the car, hop on a bus for Piraeus and find our Blue Star Ferry. As I read up on Santorini, I got extremely excited when Arthur mentioned the prospect of renting a motor scooter!!! We’re still not sure how long we’ll stay in Santorini, let alone what we’ll be doing for our second week or how we’re getting home. It’s all part of the adventure!

For those of you who are astute, you may have recognized that the theatre at Epidarus did not have 55 rows as described by Arthur. It was not until we we’re home tonight that we looked back in the book at the picture of the theatre and realized that we had been in the wrong place! Pictures we had taken revealed that we were at the Ancient Theatre at Demos of Ancient Epidarus. We weren’t able to find any evidence of what exactly it was that we saw, but it wasn’t the famed theatre we thought it was. Oops!

Posted by atbrady 08:45 Archived in Greece Tagged greece square syntagma promenade nafplion acronafplia palamidi epidaurus

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Great pictures, guys! The scenery around the restaurants is amazing, although, I wouldn't want to be at the street table when someone with "road rage" whipped around the bend! Ah-ha-ha ... xoxoxo

by Elaine Brady

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