Travel: Nafplio

Thursday, 28 April 2011
Traveling solo couldn't be more different compared with my current trip accompanied by 2 kids and 3 other adults. 14 years ago, it was just me and my trustworthy backpack arriving at Nafplio and trying to navigate through the city from the bus station clutching a dog-eared Lonely Planet guidebook. It was a hot day and I was wearing my younger brother's old Levi's 501 jeans which I had hacked off to make a pair of shorts. Lunch was often something I picked up from the market - A fresh loaf of bread, a carafe of red wine, some cheese, Kalamata olives and cured meat, eaten on the balcony of my pension while looking down at the busy pedestrian street below.

I spent a day exploring the cobbled lanes with no particular destination in mind. I remember vividly coming to a halt when I spied an interesting antique/knick knack store and came out an hour later triumphantly holding my first Greek souvenir - a locally weaved carpet with a motif native to the region of Argolis. I managed to cram it into my tiny backpack and lugged it around everywhere until I reached my base, a hostel in Athens. To this day, seeing the carpet evokes a nostalgic feeling of my younger and more carefree days.

Fast forward to the present day. We arrived in a VW mini van with my usually mild tempered brother cussing worse than an old sailor after spending the day narrowly avoiding Greek drivers who happily swerved to the other lane when overtaking with total disregard for their own mortality. My sister in law had been vomiting sporadically throughout the journey and Little L promptly threw up just before we got there. Note to self: make sure those who suffer from motion sickness do NOT sit at the back of the van.

Nafplio is easily one of the prettiest towns in Greece, maintaining an elegant facade. There's no denying the fact that unemployment rate is sitting at an all time high of 12%. A retailer I spoke to said that the unofficial rate is closer to 40% which is evidenced by the omnipresent graffiti.

Many tavernas and estiatorios line the streets in the old town but the best (in my humble opinion) is Ta Fanaria (το φανάρια ναύπλιο) on 13 Staikopoulou where the locals tend to gravitate to. They don't really cater to tourists but the owner/chef, a quiet man with an impressive girth would always make sure we were served. I was invited into his kitchen to check out the daily menu. We went back 3 times and left completely satisfied. The menu changes from day to day and the prices are far less than the other tavernas I've seen. Furthermore, there are so many gelaterias to choose from. The kids (ok, and the adults too) had a ball trying out all the different flavors.

taverna1


nafplio - taverna4


gelateria


The supersweet navel sized oranges which peel like mandarins are in abundance everywhere. At 0.99 cents a kilo, they're cheap and juicy. Orange trees in orchards, gardens and side walk are literally heavy with fruit and rotting on the ground. We were told that it was far cheaper to let them rot than hire people to pick them! What a waste.

nafplio - oranges




Nafplio was a stronghold of the Venetians in 1388 for 150 years before the Ottomans managed to snatch the seaport from them. The Venetians regained the city again in 1685 and also built the Palamidi fortress on the hilltop which overlooks the Argolic gulf and the city. The buildings in Nafplio retains its Venetian flavor and many are well preserved to this day.

nafplio - windows3


venetian windows2


venetian windows



Lil Bro was practically hyperventilating at the sight of the Palamidi Castle. The two kids showed amazing perseverance (ok, so the parents pitted them against each other as Little Z detests walking) and managed to climb up the steep steps up AND down. There are approximately 1000 steps to the very top. I managed to achieve the incredible feat of spraining my ankle twice days apart. Argh! I've been up the Palamidi castle twice now so I doubt I'll make another trip up anytime soon. The view from the top is absolutely incredible.

palamidi - views


palamidi1


bourtzi

Bourtzi Fortress

We arrived on Good Friday and the locals were busy preparing for the Easter weekend. Many flocked to the church, lighting candles as they walked in. We would've loved to attend but my Greek was barely passable.

napflio - old man


good friday



We met a lovely gentleman, Mr Stamakis who owns a high end menswear store. I couldn't believe my eyes when he pulled out a CCC by Canterbury of New Zealand sweater. Growing up in Christchurch, CCC stores were everywhere and I thought nothing of it. I had no idea that it's considered a somewhat luxury brand outside of New Zealand.

nafplio - ccc



The weather has been rather dismal since our arrival. We were all heavily wrapped up in our sweaters, scarves and coats. Bleh. On a more positive note, despite the fact that we were shivering under our heavy attire, watching the sunset on the waterfront is an experience to be remembered.

nafplio - boat sea2


wind turbines2


harbour3





6 comments:

  1. Wow, what amazing photographs! I'm so jealous of those oranges as they look amazing...also loved the picture of Mr Stamakis and that sweater! Did you pick one up? :)

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  2. Thank you, Catherine. I've always associated CCC by Canterbury NZ with rugby, a sport I actually detest unlike my brothers. However, hubby is very impressed by their range of sportswear.

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  3. Love the blues in the photos!! :)
    S in NY

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  4. The view was incredible. Hope you had a grand time when you were on the European continent, S.

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  5. Sprained your ankle twice? Someone who is more accident prone that QY? Looks like a very nice trip.... so envious.....

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  6. Make that 3 times! Well, clumsiness is in our genes :P

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