February Postcards from the Mainland

Inside the tomb of Atreus at Mykenae.  The good part about travelling in winter is that one has most of the archaeological sites to oneself.  The bad part is the weather!

Mykenae in the rain.  I am the red dot in the middle!  That is a coach park glistening in the wet in the middle distance.

We only had about 10 minutes in the museum at Mycanae as they close at 3 in the winter so this is just a quick sample. We'll have to go back!

Nafplio in the rain. This coastal town was the first capital of modern Greece so like Symi it boasts some lovely neo-classical architecture.  Unlike Symi, however, the Archaeologia (Ministry of Culture) did not intervene fast enough and there are some real eyesores.  The modern hotel on the left of this picture is quite innocuous in comparison to some of the places we saw!

The pension where we stayed for 2 nights.  It made a good base for our travels as it meant we did not have to look for somewhere down in Monemavasia, a much more expensive town even in the winter.  We dined at two different tavernas and they were both good value and very friendly. There were a few out of season tourists around and a handful of shops open but the locals are mainly in the more modern town on the other side of the harbour.

As Nafplio predates Symi the roofs have Roman tiles rather than Marseilles ones. Sensibly they also have overhanging eaves so the rain does not run down the walls of the buildings as happens on Symi. The Symiots had to adopt a different style of roof in order to harvest the winter rains and channel the water into cisterns in the houses, causing a lot of damp problems in the winter.  Nafplio has a far higher rainfall and abundant water from the nearby mountains.  The plains are covered in orange orchards and olive groves and this is good agricultural terrain.

A seriously wonky example of Nafplion architecture. The walls are much thinner than those in Symi and are often a mixture of wood, small stones and plaster, rather than the big dressed stones we are used to here.

Looking down on the old town of Nafplion from the Venetian fortress of Palamidi. That large oblong structure on the rocky outcrop to the left is an abandoned hotel, covered in graffiti and never a thing of beauty, right next to the castle of Akronafplio.  There are similar abandoned relics of  60s and 70s concrete dotted around the place.  Horrible.  Some of the mountains in the distance were covered with snow.

The fortress of Palamidi, guarding the port of Nafplio.  It was started by the Venetians, added to by the Turks and conquered by the Greeks.  It was used as a prison until 1920.

Down south in the Peloponnese, this is the causeway linking the mainland to Monemavasia, the Gibraltar of Greece.

The rooftops of Monemavasia.  Look at that swell rolling in.

This was a Byzantine town, abandoned eventually in the 19th century and redeveloped in the 20th.  Symi is often compared to it as it is also a heritage site of architectural importance. There is, however, minimal population as the locals actually live in the modern town on the main land and the houses on the island are used as chic summer homes by wealthy Athenians. As the town was abandoned long before the advent of electricity, when it was rebuilt it was possible to hide all the electricity and telephone cables below ground so there is isn't the raffle of cables that are a feature of Symi's skyline.

We had a good light lunch at this little taverna - homemade spinach pie, gigantes and the famous local wine for a very reasonable 15 euros for the 2 of us.  Note the size of the cats looking in through the window. The lady proprietor made a great show of chasing the cats away but they did not achieve that size on a diet of mice and dustbin scavengings!

On our way from Nafplio to Athens we stopped off in Epidavros to visit the famous amphitheatre.  I am the small red dot sitting in the front row!  Once again we had the place pretty much to ourselves.  There was a party of Italian teenagers with their teacher and that was all.  The location was idyllic, with bird song, wild flowers and bubbling streams - it is easy to understand why it was a centre of healing in ancient times.

The view from our cabin on the Blue Star Diagoras as we waited to leave Piraeus.  We had the same cabin in both directions. It was spotlessly clean and very comfortable. The crew are very friendly and helpful. The a la carte and self service restaurants on board are both excellent with very reasonable prices and attentive service.

Jan –   – (Monday, March 02, 2015)  

Gosh, those pics bring back memories! We last visited Nafplio (and Golden Mycenae and sandy Pylos and and and...) 30 years ago and the rooftops in Nafplio don't seem to have changed a bit. Did you get as far as Sparta? Our abiding memory of there is pink retsina from the barrel.

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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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