NAFPLIO AND MYCENAEAN HISTORY.....
Trip Start May 13, 2010
25Trip End Jul 05, 2010
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Breakfast at the Panorama Hotel was much the same as the previous day with an assortment of breads, meats and cheeses (except for the French toast). After breakfast I paid for the coffee I had the previous night, as I didn't want to forget. In addition to our group at breakfast, there was also a party of six from France.
We departed at 08:30 for Mystra where a local Guide had been arranged to provide a tour of the site. Mystra is high on a mountain overlooking Sparta, another legendary and historic site. Our driver, George, took us up to the entrance of the site and we started our tour on the walk back down which lasted about two hours or so. Although the weather had clouded over somewhat, it was still quite warm and muggy especially inside the buildings and I was enjoying even the slightest breeze
Due to the layout of the city and volume of traffic, we were dropped a few blocks away from the restaurant and had to walk a short distance. Our group was seated in a number of tables along the left hand side of the room, and I noticed that we seemed to somewhat a "subject of interest" with some of the other diners. After the appetizers of bread and dips, the owner took our order for the main course. There were three choices and I chose the chicken with caramelized onions and Feta cheese (it was great!). After lunch we were given 40 minutes or so to explore a small part of Sparta, and we met George at the Bus about three blocks up from the restaurant.
The next stop on our tour is two nights in Nafplio, and we arrived in the late afternoon. Our Guide provided us with some information on the Hotel, Pension Marianna, which is apparently a bit unconventional and operated “by committee” by three brothers
My room was down about two flights of stairs and was quite distinctive. It was constructed of stone and brick with stone floors (somewhat like a cave) and was very nicely appointed (including Wi-Fi). The bathroom had ceramic tiles on the floor and the shower was one of the largest I’ve had so far. I took the opportunity for a short rest, a shower and got my laundry ready to send out. I’ve found that with the hot weather in Greece, I need to take care of laundry every few days, either by using a “service wash” or just washing clothes in the sink. So far I haven’t managed to find too many self-serve laundries. I stopped up at reception to have a look and was given a glass of fresh home-made organic lemonade.
We re-grouped for an orientation gathering in Syntagma Square at 18:40 (Syntagma means “constitution”, so this square has the same name as the one in Athens)
I decided to try The Old Mansion for dinner which is on a small alley off one of the main streets. The owner spoke excellent English and I ordered the Chicken Souvlaki and some red wine. The dinner took a while to arrive, but it was good and the portion size wasn’t too large which I was pleased to see. A group of six (from Germany) was sitting on one side. Directly across the small alley was a “biker” type clothing shop, which offered a variety of products including earrings and leather clothing. During my dinner, a group of six from the Vilnius (Lithuania) Harley Owner’s Club went in to browse and bought a few things.
As I was finishing my Greek coffee after dinner, I heard a loud commotion coming from the main street
I explored the downtown area for awhile, as many of the shops were still open. When I decided to return to the Hotel, I had a bit of trouble reading the map and finding my way back, but I finally stumbled on it. I spent some time updating my records and getting organized for tomorrow, when we’ll be visiting Mycenae.
10 June 2 - Wednesday
Nafplio is a seaport city on the north end of the Argolic Gulf in the Pelopponese region, and consists of an “old town” and “new town”
Breakfast this morning started at 08:00, and there was a good selection of meats, cheeses, bread, hard boiled Eggs, and of course fresh home-made organic lemonade at the buffet. The view of the city and ocean from the breakfast room was incredible on a beautiful sunny morning. The brothers were keeping busy replenishing the food and visiting with guests.
We were supposed to depart at 09:00 for our tour of Mycenae, but the original Guide that was to conduct the local tour of the site was in Hospital as her Mother wasn’t well
This site was the capital of the Mycenaeans who won the Trojan War, a civilization that dominated the Greek world about 1000 years before the Golden Age in Athens. We first toured the large dome shaped Tholos Tomb (Tomb of Agamemnon) that was located under a hill. Entrance to the structure was via a large portal with a “V” shaped structure on top, which is designed to distribute the weight equally and provide strength. It was quite remarkable that such an early civilization was able to build the large entrance with stones weighing 120 tons using only simple tools. Lots of other tour groups were also there including some school groups from the U.S. that we’ve encountered at other locations (I’m not sure if they’re following us, or vice versa).
From there we moved up the hill to the main Museum, and after a washroom break, we began our tour there
After the tour ended, we were back on the Bus for the trip back to Nafplio, where we had the afternoon free. I went back to the Hotel first to get cleaned up and have a shower (touring ancient historical sites is hard work in the hot sun!). After freshening up, I went out to get some lunch at a small cafe just down the hill from the Hotel called Prego that I had passed by earlier. I ordered a Turkey Club and Coffee, and I was pleased to see that the sandwich was made to order, rather than just being unwrapped out of the display case.
After lunch I went looking for an ATM and also a Barber if possible
Before going back to my room, I took a short detour to the top of the hill above the Hotel as I wanted to have a closer look and get some photos of the deserted Hotel complex there. The Hotel was reportedly built during the time Greece was ruled by the military junta, probably in the '60s as the design was typical of that period. The location was absolutely one of the best in Nafplio, as both sides of the Hotel had a fantastic view of the ocean. The building had been badly vandalized over the years, with many of the windows broken and the floors covered by debris. Most of the shuttered doors to the rooms were open, so there was no protection from the elements. Although the building was surrounded by a large metal fence, I found one corner where that had been “pried” open to allow easy access. For some reason, that building was an endless source of fascination for me, and I tried to imagine what it must have been like when it was in it’s “prime” – guests sitting around the bar, enjoying the pool, porters hauling luggage to or from the rooms, front desk staff in suits or uniforms and perhaps even a Concierge at work
In the early evening, I got cleaned up and changed, as we’d be having another group dinner tonight. We had to meet at the usual statue at 19:40 for the walk to the local restaurant. Along the way we picked up local dog who followed us all the way to the restaurant (the group named him "Homer"). He was very friendly and in somewhat of a playful mood, as he’d pick up discarded plastic milk containers and shake them from side-to-side as if he wanted to play. The group named him “Homer”. I was a bit upset to think that such a friendly Dog didn’t have a good home or anyone to look after him. The state of the animals in Greece is something that I’ve had to somewhat “put out of my mind” during this trip, as there seems to be a lot of homeless and unwanted animals here, some in very poor condition. He stayed with us for a while at the restaurant, and chased the restaurant cats (as well as eating some of their food).
For dinner tonight, Colin (our Guide) had arranged for some Greek musicians and dancers to entertain our group
After a short time, two men appeared with a Bouzouki and a Guitar and we enjoyed authentic Greek music during dinner. A little while later, two couples arrived wearing traditional Greek clothing for a folk dancing demonstration. During their performance they changed costumes at least once and increasingly involved our group in the dancing. I didn’t take part as I wanted to focus on taking pictures (excuse the pun). One or two others also declined to join the dancing as they were either photographing or video taping the performance, however the rest of the group seemed to enjoy the dancing.
After dessert which included more entertainment, there was a demonstration by one of the performers which involved picking up a full shot glass while doing “pushups” and then drinking it without spilling any. One of our group tried it, but wasn’t having much luck so Colin (our capable Guide) showed us how it’s done! The group started to break up at about 23:00 and we returned individually or in small groups to the Hotel. The band was offering a CD of their music, so I bought one as I thought it would be a nice souvenir of the trip and might be useful in presenting slide shows of the trip.
We will be meeting Constantina again tomorrow morning for a tour of the ancient site at Epidavros.