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Published: January 27th 2020
Not our first trip, and not our last. Greece the country that just keeps giving. Every time we go we visit another area and we are never disappointed. As we enjoy slow travel we don't try and see everything and we mostly pick just one area or one city but we never have enough time and there is always at least one place that we would like to stay longer in but can't and other places that we never reach at all. Lucky with the weather again at the end of October, actually a bit too hot for me, this time we visited the Peloponnese. We started in Athens and drove via the Corinth Canal to Nafplio. As it is only 2 hours from Athens, it is a popular tourist destination all year round.
The historic center is very pretty, with bougainvillea filled streets, lots of cafes, restaurants and tavernas, beautifully restored neo-classical buildings. The small town boasts three defensive fortresses. The Venetian fort of Palmidi can be reached by walking up 999 steps or by car, we took the car. Still quite a bit of uphill walking inside the fort but you will be rewarded by wonderful
views from the top. There is a lot of archaeological sites around Nafplio but we didn't visit them as we wanted to explore the town and surroundings and we had already decided to spend one day at a site further on. Many of the sites have very little to see and you have to use your imagination. The walk to the beaches near by Nafplio was closed after a section of the cliff face collapsed, so we drove down the coast, stopping at the small beaches along the way and getting as far as Tolo where we stopped and had lunch on the beach.
Many people will say that Nafplio is very touristy. There are always restaurants and cafes and bars open, always people around, which maybe doesn't suit everybody, but on holiday, we like having somewhere to go at night. I loved walking around the streets, admiring the architecture and pretty shops and cafes. Many of the buildings have been beautifully restored and many others are in the process of being restored. One thing we noticed, this seems to be an old person's job, because whenever we saw something being built, restored or fixed, most of
the team was grey-haired. Looking inside one building, we saw a very elderly man, busy fixing the walls.
From Nafplio we drove to Monemvasia. We drove down the coast and then through the mountains. The man at the hotel said we shouldn't take this road because it is dangerous and some of it is not paved. We took it anyway and it was a good road and paved all the way. Once we left the coast and went into the mountains, the roads were empty of traffic and there seemed to be no villages or farms either. We were alone. Just us and the pine trees all the way.
We stayed the night at a place a few minutes drive from the harbor and had intended to visit late afternoon and early morning to catch the sunrise. Monemvasia is a medieval castle town on a small island linked to the coast by a causeway. There is no traffic and people leave their car before the main gate or arrive by boat. The town faces the sea so you can't see it from the port. We arrived at about 4 on a hot day and
after 3 hours of walking up and down the narrow streets we had had enough. I noticed there were a lot of people arriving just as we were leaving -- with good reason, the town seemed to trap the heat in its little streets and I felt a bit claustrophobic. Never mind, it's probably nice and cool in the mornings and the sunrise is supposed to be magnificent. Up nice and early the next day, we were greeted by heavy clouds, so no sunrise for us.
Our next stop was Gythion, about a one and a half hour drive, if you stick to the route. Of course, we didn't. We were driving in the mountains, Google didn't know where we were but we seemed to be going in the right direction. We passed some people harvesting olives but apart from that, there was not much to see. Suddenly a little old lady, leaning on her stick, flagged us down. She came to the window and gave us an impassioned speech in Greek, and seemed like she wanted a lift. So I opened the door for her and she hopped in. After a 15 minute uphill drive, we
arrived at her destination. Before she disappeared into the trees, I asked if I could take her photo. She agreed, but first she smoothed down her hair and straightened her clothes. Looking at the photo afterward, I realized that the scarf that had been tied babushka-like around her head was now tied jauntily around her neck and the walking stick had disappeared completely. There was no sign of a house either. The journey ended up taking us more than 3 hours.
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