We're in Nafplio to see its elegant old town, to hike up to its looming fortress, and to start an exploration of the Peloponnese.
I'd not heard of Nafplio until I started research for this trip. It has a long colourful history thanks to its strategic location. Since ancient times Nafplio has been fought over and control passed between Greeks, Venetians and Ottomans. More recently Nafplio was the first capital of modern Greece, though only for the brief period of 1829 to 1834.
As the crow flies Nafplio isn't far from Santorini but it took a good part of a day to get here as it required a flight to Athens, a bus to the city, then a bus to Nafplio. I hate hate hate flying so would much rather have sailed but ferry schedules are sparse this time of year.
After arriving we spent the evening walking the beautiful marble-paved streets, stopping to eat sweets from the abundance of pastry shops. The Greeks are very good pastry makers, with honey featuring a big role. Mmmmm.
I took these photos pretty late in the evening so the streets were largely empty. I converted them to black and white using the lovely Fuji Acros film simulation. Nafplio's old town is beautifully lit at night. Its marble-lined streets and squares shimmer with reflections and remind me of nighttime in Siracusa, though I think Nafplio may be in better shape.
After eating a gyro - my second today, both good and cheap at a little past 2 - we capped the evening by sitting in on a free concert in an old church.
Some travelers like beaches; I find them boring after half an hour. Some like fancy restaurants; I find the more I spend on food the less I like it, what I call my rule of diminishing returns for restaurants. Some like to shop; I really don't need any more stuff, plus I've a long way to lug purchases to get them home.
What I do like is to hike to the highest point in town, so today we hiked up to the Palamidi fortress.
The Palmidi fortress looms over Nafplio. It's a huge rambling stone complex that covers a hilltop that's something like 220m high.
I'm glad we climbed to the top of the Palmidi fortress yesterday because the 999 steps would be pretty slippery today. Instead we hung around town, window shopping and eating and checking out the harbour and the smaller Akronafplia fortress which is just above our hotel.
Our hotel, the Amfitriti Palazzo, is a nice-enough place: centrally located, good breakfasts, stylish, but it is not for the staircase averse or for those who hate cats. Though if you hate cats I'd say maybe you should just avoid Greece altogether as there are cats everywhere.
After breakfast we walked out to the harbour to check out the breakwater and get a close look at the Windstar, a small cruise ship that is a combo sail/motor boat. The same ship was anchored off Santorini a couple days ago. We are tempted to try a cruise someday though I'm not sure I'll like the brevity of the shore leaves.
We spent some time talking to a woman fishing off the breakwater (see picture of her below), about the economy and fishing and Greece in general. Gotta say I've yet to meet friendlier people than the Greeks.
From the harbour you can see Nafplio's three Venetian fortresses. There's actually a fourth fortress across the bay but the sky was too grey to get a good view of it.
The Palmidi fortress is the one we climbed yesterday. The Bourtzi fortress is on a small island just offshore. And the Akronafplia fortress is just behind our hotel. We'll climb it - it's just a short hike up - later today.
Back in the old town I wolfed down a dark chocolate gelato at the Antica Gelateria. The old town is full of tempting places to eat: pastry shops - so many pastry shops! -, cafes, gyros, ice cream, and on and on, and none of them chain restaurants, no macdonalds, no olive gardens. Many Greek restauranteours try to engage you as you walk by, but they aren't obnoxiously pushy like those in nearby Turkey. I just smile, say hello, say no thanks.
Just another day in Greece.