This former capital of Greece (1821-1834) has retained its charm and beauty over the centuries. Old Town bustles with tiny shops filled with clothes, shoes, jewelry, leather sandals and purses, groceries, etc. There are three shops, that I counted, that display hand-made worry beads in all sizes and colors and they offer to repair the ones you have. Gentle squares open up with restaurants all around them so grown-ups can watch the children play in the central area as they drink their kafe; the streets are cobblestoned and lead you all around in a maze. All of this under the watchful eye of the massive Castle/Kastro. A smaller Kastro sits in the middle of the bay and it’s awesome to stand in one Kasto and look at the other.
Kastro Sweet Kastro
Our directions to the hotel were once again a bit hazy; we asked for assistance and followed the turns that led us up to the halfway point of the Kastro. No Hotel In Sight! We circled back down again and called; the owner told us to come back up to where we stopped and he would meet us there. Once there, we parked and his very welcoming greeting included pointing down a series of steps, under an archway and another series of long steps (oh, my back!).
Once we turned the corner, it all fell into place. A very large and comfortable room awaited us overlooking Old Town and the sea beyond. The view outside our window was amazing! The owner brought in the luggage and we settled in. Zaf offered to go down to Old Town to pick up some water and fruit. He followed the owners suggestion of using the steps on the side of the hotel to get to the shops. He took a long time to come back and I got worried. Finally, he arrived totally out of breath – he gasped “there has to be about 80 steps out there!” While the hotel is lovely as it has several rooms on various levels up and down the side of the Kastro and a rooftop dining area with beautiful views of the water and boats moored there, we determined that climbing back up to the main road and driving down is our best option!
Just a short drive from the center of Nauplio is the ancient Citadel of Mycenae. From about 1600 BC to 11 BC, the Mycenaen civilization was a very important part of Greek history. Walking through the remnants of this archeological site, it was easy to imagine how the rooms were set up and what area was set up for different functions; again the stairs/walking is a bit long, but very worth the effort. Wear a hat and lots of sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes. Check out the museum – absolutely amazing pieces of the bronze age artifacts…saw some jewelry that was unbelievable!
Down by port there is a whole series of restaurants and it was hard to choose. We typically choose one on how it looks. Color of table cloths, styles of chairs, umbrellas – sometimes Zaf picks and sometimes I do. One day I picked on the name of the place. The Pine Tree – because it reminded me of the trees in my parents’ villages. The food was incredibly delicious like I knew it would be! When we were there, it was early in the season and with just coming out of the lock-down, the menus were often limited. But we made do with lamb chops, lemon potatoes, calamari, octopus, Greek village salad, cheese pies and spinach pies, moussaka, pastichio and of course, ice cream or baklava or kataiifi – you got the picture, right?!
The ride out of town took us through the typical city center with all the shopping you need to do and then down the coast to our next exploration. We were originally planning to take the “main road” (highway) traveling south into the Peloponnese but Petros, our hotel host, insisted we take the shoreline and are we happy we did….unbelievable vistas of the sea with its myriad of coves and bays, cliffs and hamlets tucked into the hills. We stopped at Leonidio – a good sized town and took the path down to the beach – chose a tiny taverna to have our lunch, fed some cats and took off again climbing the central mountains towards Sparta. Retire well, Helene
Photograph of Nauplio out of our hotel window From the Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
Photograph of Kasto steps leading to and from our hotel From the Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
For more information about Greece, please visit: https://www.greektravel.com/