Friday, September 20, 2019

Nafplio, Greece

A royal view of the Bourzi Castle. Photos by Vickie Kelber

A royal view of the Bourzi Castle. Photos by Vickie Kelber

Located on the serenely beautiful Argolic Gulf 2 hours from Athens, Nafplio (Nafplion), with its stepped streets, profusion of flowers, and car free old town is a charming location from which to explore the Peloponnese Peninsula. A popular weekend destination for Athenians, Nafplio is a town of parks, fountains, small churches, and enchanting seaside. Spring and fall are the best times to visit; moderate temperatures during the day, cool in the evening.

The first capital of Greece, three fortresses dominate the town.  From Palamidi,  built in the 18th century by the Venetians but quickly captured by the Turks, there is an impressive view of the town and 8 bastions to explore. Nine hundred and ninety steps lead up to Palamidi; it is also accessible by car. Acronapflia, with walls that date to the bronze age, is a gentler walk, but less well preserved. The perfect picture for a postcard Bourtzi is located in the harbor, a short boat ride away. There are museums devoted to folk art, military history, archeology, and

View from Bourzi.

View from Bourzi.

the emblematic Greek Komboloi worry beads. There are two beaches in Nafplio, the pebbly Arvanitia and the sandy Karathonas. Markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays and there are excellent shopping opportunities.

The most pleasant thing to do in Nafplio, however, is to walk along the seaside and then stop at a local cafe and absorb the culture. There is a paved walked all along the harbor which turns into a flat, richly vegetated walk to the beach. Sit at one of the many bars or cafes in Plateia Syntagma (Constitution Square), the heart of the old city, or along the waterfront,  sipping an ouzo or a distinctly Greek frappé, a foamed  coffee concoction. Treat yourself to a plate of loukoumades, fried pastry dough smothered in honey. Don’t forget to try the excellent gelato at Antica Gelateria di Roma

The Greeks observe siesta time; many small shops and restaurants close between 2 and 5 p.m. Dinner is late, often not until 9 or 10 p.m. Restaurants abound in Nafplio; you can’t go

Windmill on Hydra.

Windmill on Hydra.

wrong with just about any one of them. A typical Greek meal includes many small dishes called  mezedes; you can make a meal of just a variety of these appetizers. Restaurants usually include a cover charge in the bill.

A few minutes from Nafplio is Tolo, a fishing village turned seaside resort. From here, you can take a boat to the islands of Spetses and Hydra. Hydra, with it’s characteristic white houses bedecked in flowers, picturesque harbor, and windmills is the preferred island. It is traffic free unless you count the donkeys who are used for local transportation.

Easy day trips can be made to Tiryns, Mycenae, Nemea, Epidaurus, Corinth, and Mystras. The walls of Tiryns are just 10 minutes from Nafplio. The center of the Bronze Age Mycenaen Civilization and home of Agamemnon, Mycenae offers the Palace of Agamemnon, the Treasury of Atreus, the tomb of Clytaemenesta, and incredible vistas. If you want to explore the subterranean cistern, bring a small flashlight. Nemea, in addition to its architectural remains, is also

Absorb the culture at a local cafe.

Absorb the culture at a local cafe.

known for its wine; vineyards and tasting rooms may be visited. An important religious and therapeutic center of Ancient Greece, Epidaurus features a well preserved 4th century BC theater seating 14,000. During the summer, classical Greek plays are performed here. The ruins of Corinth and the acropolis of Acrocorinth are awe-inspiring. Stand where St. Paul stood as he preached to the Corinthians. It is particularly beautiful in May when wild poppies dot the hillside. The impressive ancient city of Mystras with its palace, fortress, churches and monastery is 2 hours away. Overnight options include Monemvasia, Olympia, and Delphi. They are all about 4 hours from Nafplio.

Vickie is a former member of the Marco Island City Council and Artistic Director of the Marco Island Film Festival, and has been a volunteer for many island organizations. She is presently on the board of the Naples Mac Users Group. Prior to relocating to Marco, Vickie served as a school psychologist, Director of Special Services, and college instructor and also was a consultant to the New Jersey Department of Education.

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