Oooops, We're In . . . Kiato
Trip Start Oct 21, 2009
52Trip End Jan 12, 2010
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7:30am – rise and shine!
8:00am – breakfast at our hotel (still mediocre, still at Hotel Carolina).
8:35am – we jump on the Metro from Monastiraki to Larissa Station (main train station), Athens.
9:06am – all aboard the train from Athens to Nafplio! Since we had taken this line only a few days before, for our day trip to Corinth, we were old pros at all this. We planned on spending the day touring the villages of Nafplio and Mycenae – and, if we had time, walking around the town of Argos for a while
10:45am – the train stops, and everyone is told to get off. It’s the end of the line. But, wait a minute – we’re in KIATO! What happened to the Nafplio stop?! How the hell did THIS happen?!
10:55am – the train that we just disembarked starts returning in the direction from which we just came.
10:58am – after talking to the train station agents at Kiato, Murray informs me that we were supposed to get off at the Corinth train stop, one stop (and a half hour) BEFORE Kiato, and take a DIFFERENT train from Corinth to Nafplio (in other words, contrary to what we thought, there is no direct train route from Athens to Nafplio). Oh, ok – so this is kind of funny. We’re in Kiato, and… it doesn’t even register a single entry in our large and thorough Greece guidebook. Hmmmm.
11:55am – after slurping down weak tea and coffee from the tiny Kiato train station café, and killing an hour on the station platform, another train from Athens arrives (again) and we get on it (again)
12:25pm – we arrive in Corinth from Kiato. Hey – this place looks familiar! Weren’t we just here?!
12:30pm – Murray speaks to the train agents in Corinth, and finds out some more bad news! We obviously missed the 10:23am train from Corinth to Nafplio – a train that we would’ve made had we gotten off at Corinth in the first place – and the next train to Nafplio? Leaves at 2:23pm. Wonderful. Maybe we should’ve done a little better research here…
12:35pm – we decide to approach our journey to Nafplio from a different angle, so we jump on the city bus from the Corinth station into town (note that this is the same bus, with the same bus driver, that we had ridden a few days earlier – the very same bus/driver that got into an accident during our visit to Ancient Corinth just two days prior! Also, quite familiar…).
1:00pm – we’re now in Modern Corinth, at a random street corner, waiting for another bus to take us to Loutraki, a larger bus terminal about 7km outside of town
1:15pm – our second bus to Loutraki is late, but finally we are on board and heading (at least) in the right direction for Nafplio!
1:40pm – we’re at the large bus terminal outside of town, and now our third bus (to Nafplio, via Argos) is late. Plus, this “bus terminal” is insane! It’s more like a suburban sprawl strip mall than a bus station, with large, unhelpful shops and a tiny bus ticketing office. The “terminal’s” lobby area is outside, spread amongst dingy tables and random chairs – and even though it’s outside, it’s impossible to escape the cigarette smoke coming from the rest of the waiting passengers. Also, random buses keep on pulling up – or rather, I should say that random busses keep on stopping somewhere within the vast parking lot that fronts this strip mall station – and passengers are jumping up from the “waiting area” and (literally) running to board these various buses. However, the destination signs for where these busses are headed are almost all written in Greek – and since they stop for only milliseconds before roaring away again, and our bus to Nafplio is already ten minutes late, Murray and I are left to run around the parking lot like chickens with cut-off heads, approaching as many of the bus drivers in the parking lot as we can, asking them whether or not their bus goes to Nafplio – all the while dodging these approaching and departing speeding-bullet busses like some sick game of “Frogger.” (If it weren’t so aggravating, it would be funny.) We quickly find most bus drivers to be incredibly rude and impatient with our directional inquiry, which is rather unfortunate
1:48pm – a bus finally pulls into the parking lot that is going to Nafplio! Hooray – we are ecstatic! We quickly jump on the bus before it races away, only to find that once inside the bus, someone else has taken our assigned seats – because someone else took THEIR assigned seats – because someone else took THEIR assigned seats – etc.! So, we are forced to sit in the higher-up, second-to-last row of the bus, which is very loud (right above the engine), and very hot (right above the engine).
3:22pm – we have endured the hottest, most uncomfortable bus ride of our lives. I felt positively ill the entire trip, and my good humor completely deserted me about ten minutes into the ride (those of you who know me know that I don’t do very well with “hot” – a sentiment I’m feeling ten-fold while pregnant!). But, hey – we’re FINALLY IN NAFPLIO. Woo-hooooo!
3:23pm – we realize that if we would’ve just waited at the Corinth train station for the 2:23pm train to Nafplio, perhaps enjoying a leisurely lunch there in the meantime, we probably would’ve gotten here sooner (and much easier!)
3:25pm – Murray leaves me at a small café for some refreshments while he goes in search of Nafplio’s one and only train station to double-check returning train times. We DEFINITELY are taking the train back to Corinth tonight, to catch the train back to Athens – NO MORE BUSES!!!
3:40pm – Murray returns with the departing train schedule from Nafplio. We can either leave at 4:17pm (approximately a mere half hour from now), or wait to leave until 8:08pm tonight, and the last train out of Nafplio. I think, ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’ – after our day so far, we might as well stay in Nafplio for as long as possible (at this point, forget visiting Mycenae or Argos!), and take the late train out of here. So, that’s what we do!
4:01pm – after a latte and refreshment at the café for Murray, and some reading up in our guidebook on the different ways to get there, we decide to take a taxi to the top of Palamidi Fortress, the vast and spectacular citadel that stands on a 216m-high outcrop of rock overlooking the entirety of Nafplio
4:05pm – so, let’s take a tour of the village instead! Here’s where our day finally – blissfully – started looking up (literally, too; the sky, previously sort of overcast, broke through with a little sunshine, just in time for our walking tour!). We had read that Nafplio is one of Greece’s prettiest and most romantic towns, and we were not disappointed. The village, located 12km southeast of Argos on the Argolic Gulf, is graced with attractive narrow streets, many shaded by thick vines of flowers and greenery winding overhead; elegant Venetian houses; neoclassical mansions with flower-bedecked balconies; interesting museums; funky boutique shops; and quaint seaside restaurants and cafes
4:55pm – as we walked along the harbor, we got our first glimpse of the island fortress of Bourtzi, another structure built by the Venetians in the middle of the Argolic Gulf (west of the town’s port). It would’ve been fun to take a ferry out to tour this fortress, too, but – guess what?! – this fortress closed at 5:00pm! (Ok, we were not as surprised by this as we were about the Palamidi Fortress closing early at 4pm – but STILL!). So, we continued our leisurely walk along the harbor, even walking to the end of the lighthouse pier and enjoying the warm, lovely breeze.
5:45pm – winding our way back through town from the harbor, and completely starving (since, effectively, we had no lunch!), we navigate our way to To Omorfo Tavernaki, a guidebook-recommended tavern that serves “smaller servings of homemade delights in a convivial restaurant adorned with antique oddments,” which we found to be true! For dinner, we enjoyed a mezedhes plate of spicy cheese, tzatziki, and roasted eggplant dips on wonderful Greek bread
6:45pm – after walking off dinner a bit, and enjoying the nighttime scene in Nafplio (including spectacular views of the Palamidi, Akronafplia, and Bourtzi Fortresses, lit up at night), we again navigated our way to another location, the Antica Gelateria di Roma – a very highly touted dessert stop in Nafplio. Inside the divine-smelling gelato and bakery shop, which was filled with interesting Italian trinkets and other homemade goods, we met owner (and gelato maestra) Claudia Raffo and sampled the best gelato we’ve ever had outside of Italy! Murray quickly ordered a double waffle cone of cappuccino and rum raisin (which was accompanied by chocolate waffle cone chips, and a liqueur-soaked cherry, on top!), so I followed with a double dark chocolate and hazelnut cone. Too. Much. Gelato. But – so very, very good!
7:10pm – with both Murray and I slightly regretting not the gelato itself – but, rather, the DOUBLE cone we both just had to have! – we began walking back toward the train station for our evening train to Corinth
7:30pm – from the barber shop, we walked onward to Plateia Kapodistria, a large square on the other, newer side of Nafplio, which contains an impressive statute of Theodoros Kolokotronis (Greek: Θεόδωρος Κολοκοτρώνης). Kolokotroni(s), who has appeared in numerous statues – and as the name of several streets and squares – throughout Greece (including the street on which our current Hotel Carolina in Athens is located), was a Greek general who fought in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire.
7:45pm – since Murray had to use the facilities, we stopped at a small café near the train station, where we split a bottle of Sprite and killed a few more minutes waiting for the train.
8:15pm – while the train was at the Nafplio station by 7:55pm, it didn’t start moving until seven minutes after it was supposed to leave. Still, we’re now on the train, and headed back to Corinth (and then Athens!). We are wondering whether or not we will make the 8:50 train out of Corinth – we are guessing ‘probably not.’ Regardless, we are enjoying this train ride immensely. Tic-tac-toe and Hangman games are keeping us company, as is the adorable little three-year-old girl across the aisle from us
9:35pm – we weren’t even CLOSE to making the 8:50pm train out of Corinth, but lucky for us, the Corinth to Athens’ trains leave every hour on the fifty minutes. So, with luck, the next train will be on time.
9:50pm – and – for the first time today? – luck was with us and the Corinth train was on time! We are now headed back to Athens. Too keyed up to take a nap, Murray and I played several rounds of “20 Questions.” I, of course, reigned supreme.
11:06pm – we finally arrive in Athens, and take the Metro from the main train station back to our own neighborhood.
11:41pm – we are back in our hotel room, exhausted but somewhat redeemed. The day didn’t go exactly as we planned, but we learned a few lessons along the way, managed to avoid a divorce, and still had a great time in the end.