After some travel agent-induced drama we made it to Greece, albeit three hours apart and on separate flights. We slept off the stress in Athens, and headed straight for the lovely little town of Nafplio in the Peloponnese—the first capital of Greece, worry beads hotspot and popular holiday destination for Athens locals. We quickly set about exploring, climbing the leg killing 857 steps to the cliff top Palamidi fortress, which was built in the 1700s. From the top, we were rewarded with spectacular views across the old town and Mediterranean, and some pretty ancient and interesting ruins. Anywhere else this place would be on a world heritage site and well protected but this is Greece, home to sites built thousands of years before it. After we crawled back down, we undid all our exercise in a local taverna, feasting on saganaki, Greek salad, tzatziki, bread and masticha, a potent local spirit. We paid for the tzatziki afterward with an hours long garlic haze!
With the sun shining (but not really warming), we decided to take a walk along the coast around Nafplio to a nearby beach. The walk itself was lovely, we passed a bunch of old locals taking a dip, skirted along steep cliff faces and beautiful coves, all with a spectacular view across the crystal clear sea…but the beach we arrived to wasn’t so nice, a little sparse and brown. So, we made our way back to a little cove we had passed earlier where Adam was mad enough to go for a quick swim. We had just enough time to head back to our pension for a shower before heading out to a small, local ouzo distillery for a private tour and tasting. It was fun learning about their processes and sampling their pungent produce—there’s a lot of anise in each batch!
Our time in Nafplio came to an end and we jumped back on a bus to the capital. We started our touristing in Athens just a few steps from our Airbnb apartment at the Acropolis. There was a surprisingly strong and icy wind blowing across the site, but that didn’t stop us from checking out every corner. The Parthenon, like the Colosseum in Rome, is a really impressive structure, particularly given the early era in which it was built. It was especially interesting seeing the Greek approach to restoration and protection—there were Parthenon spare parts laying around the grounds, along with scaffolding, cranes and the odd stray dog or cat. From the Acropolis we went in search of falafel lunch and wandered the oldest streets in the city in Plaka.
Another day, another nearby ancient ruin. We explored the many crumbling ruins of the Ancient Agora. Most of the buildings at the site were truly ruins but there was a well preserved Parthenon-esque temple that was pretty striking. With rain threatening we made our way home via the Turkish towel shop for some practical souvenirs. We spent our last day in Greece (and Europe) in the impressive Acropolis museum. The museum itself is fairly new and is packed full of ancient sculptures and original pieces of the Parthenon, as well as an explanation of the history of the Acropolis, its buildings and their intricate decorations. Very interesting stuff. For our last dinner we went for Greek platters filled with moussaka, stuffed tomato, spinach and feta and tzatziki, washed down with the owners’ father’s home made wine/vinegar. We followed all that up with a brief stroll around the lit up Acropolis. Next, it’s onto Dubai before home.