Yesterday, as we walked along the quaint narrow alleyways in town and look up, we could quite often see parts of Palamidi Castle which rests on a hill at the foot of which the town of old Nafplio resides. The Castle was built by Venetians between 1711 and 1714. We decided to go up there and take a look. We were told that there is a stairway which you can climb… 999 stairs to be exact which were built by prisoners. We opted to take the car and drive up which proved wise since there are plenty of stairs as you wander around inside.
On the way to the castle however, we passed by the market and had to stop to take a look. There were vendors set up with every sort of fresh vegetable and fruit imaginable. It was lively, colourful, loud, and packed with locals picking up fresh produce. As we walked along I also noticed some specialty vendors selling honey or grapes. There were even clothing vendors with bras hanging on strings along the front of their umbrellas, and another person who had large bolts of heavy cloth, and yet others selling sunglasses or typical Greek cotton clothing.
We also saw a small cage packed with chickens about 6 weeks old from the looks of them and I wondered if they were layers or meat birds. I think they were layers because they weren't very fat. It occurred to me that I have not seen one large grocery store in town and perhaps this is how most of the locals get their food. Mom thought everything looked much more appetising than our grocery stores at home. It was a feast for the senses.
Then we were off to the castle. There are 8 bastions or separate compartments which were all independently fortified and therefore independently defensible.
It almost seemed like different neighbourhoods in a big town connected by stone pathways and all surrounded by another wall. Each bastion appeared to have its own large gated entrance. There were many nooks and crannys, very slippery rocks covering the floors and stairs, several lookout posts, and levels of living spaces stacked higher and higher up the hill. The views overlooking the town of Nafplio , the water of the Argolic gulf, and the surrounding countryside were beautiful. For a time, one of the heroes of the Greek Revolution, Theodoros Kolokotronis, was held prisoner in a very small cell inside the most highly fortified of the bastions. The space had a high stone ceiling but was only about 5 feet by 10 feet and dark. You would have to have incredible mental fortitude to maintain your sanity in there.
Another dominant feature of this town is the waterfront view of the Bourtzi (fortified islet) which has become a sort of symbol for this city. It is a small castle that was also constructed by the Venetians and served to protect the entrance to the harbour from Pirates. The executioners for the prison at the Palamadi fortress lived here since it was bad luck to have them live in the city itself.
At this point we opted not to go to Mycenae to see more ruins. I believe it is about ˝ an hour away but it is 33 degrees and very sunny today (although not very humid so it is not unbearable) and we spent several hours climbing among ruins already. It is time to eat.
We found a café at the main square which is paved in marble and sat and enjoyed a relaxing meal as we watched people stroll around. It was lovely. I then wanted to get a few pictures of the side streets and the stores were closed and the place seemed barren. Everything shuts down in the afternoon as the locals go home to rest, so we did the same. Everything will wake up again around 5:30.
We went for a walk through town into some newer streets that we had not seen yet as we attempted to seek out the beginning of the steps up to the castle. It ended up being at the very dark end of a park so we didn’t quite make it. In the park however, there was a monument and several stray cats and dogs which startled me at first. You’ve got to feel for all those creatures, but I guess they have it better off than they would if they were in Canada.
We went back to the port to have dinner at another restaurant that we liked when we were browsing for a place to eat yesterday. The owner spent a great deal of time trying to explain all of his food and even to learn a bit of sign language himself so we thought we would reward him for his hard work. Unfortunately, there was a rude, old, fat, Greek guy who kept staring at Mom and it made her very uncomfortable.
Of course, she is too polite to call him on it and so am I so we ate fast (she ordered mousaka for dinner which is very adventurous as she doesn’t like eggplant… I was proud of her) and looked forward to toping it all off with some gelato from the recommendation of Amy in Washington D.C. It turns out that the Antica Gelateria di Roma is only 75 steps from our hotel! I told them the wonderful things that Amy had said about them and they were very happy and added some biscotti to our gelato. I’ll pick some up for the road before we leave tomorrow.
I got to see my wonderful husband and 2 of the kids through skype for the first time this evening. Excellent! Technology never ceases to amaze me.
We are definitely feeling the jetlag. This morning after getting up and dressed we went to have breakfast, returned to our room, took one look at the bed and believe it or not, decided to have a little nap. It felt so good to lie down. The next thing I knew it was 10:45! What to do?