From Delphi we drove south to Nafplion, what will be our only stop on the Peloponnese Peninsula. Nafplion has been a major Aegean port since the Bronze Age and was occupied by the Venetians and Ottomans each for a few hundred years. More recently it was the original capital of Greece during and immediately after the war of independence (from the Ottoman empire) in the 1830s. Today, with its elegant Venetian mansions, narrow streets, cute cafés, sidewalk restaurants, and of course that incomparable Mediterranean Sea, it’s a tourist mecca.
While enjoying the modern joys of Nafplion, you’re never far from history of course, this being Greece and all. A key adventure, then, was do drive north to Mycenae, home to the ancient Mycenaeans who were the most powerful Greeks during much of the second millennium BC; the period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to 1100 BC, in fact, is known as the Mycenaean era. And to put it in its Homeric context, Agamemnon, the leader of Greek forces in the Trojan War, was king of Mycenae when he took to the seas to rescue Helen, whom Paris of Troy had abducted. (You can read the Iliad for more details.) While I stayed home to deal with some health insurance issues Mark & the many Germains made the day trip.Another little jaunt worth doing in Nafplion is to climb the Palamidi Fortress, built by the Venetians on a huge outcrop in the early 18th century, during their second occupation. Once again I let Mark and the Germains do the heavy lifting; I’d been up there three years earlier when Mark & I had passed through Nafplion and had the sense that I would use my time more effectively lying on a beach somewhere. Turns out I was right. There’s just no way you can describe the perfection of a swim in the Mediterranean in July. So after I raved about how fabulous it was, we all went back the next day, after their Mycenaean sojourn, for an afternoon at the beach. Heaven.
Nafplion was a short stop for us – two nights and then back to the Athens airport for a flight to Crete. As the site of our first Mediterranean swim, though, it was a nice little detour. Now on to see why those Cretans have such a bad reputation.