Saturday, June 27, 2020

A Night in Nafplio

A Night in Nafplio. . .sounds rather like a movie title, doesn't it?

The land of castles and kings - Nafplio

You know. . . one of those summer escapade films starring the likes of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Maybe I watched too many of those movies in my youth, but sometimes even the briefest of getaways in Greece, where we live as expats, feels as exhilarating as the storylines of those old time travel/romance films.


Nafplio streets are quiet following the spring CV lockdown
And I can tell you, it is even more exhilarating when it follows weeks of coronavirus prevention lockdown!

Palimidi fort dates back to 1715 the year of its completion

Our night in Nafplio came as part of our first post-lockdown road trip.  We'd planned to island hop through the Saronic islands near the eastern coast of the Peloponnese. But with hotels not yet open on Hydra we opted to spend a night on the mainland as we made our way home from Spetses island. And there is no more perfect a place to do that than Nafplio (naf-plee-oh).

Bougainvillea-draped pedestrian streets of Nafplio

Nafplio is simply a fairy tale setting come to life. The old town's cityscape is one of medieval castles, ancient walls, Ottoman fountains and Venetian buildings. It charmed us nearly a decade ago when we first came to the Peloponnese and it continues to cast a spell over us each time we visit.

Sunset at harborside in Nafplio

It is easy to lose yourself to its charms as you stroll its narrow streets or sit sipping coffee or wine in a cafe at the side of a square -- particularly its Syntagma Square where there is always a group of children playing soccer, it seems, no matter the time of year we visit.  Syntagma, meaning 'constitution' is a perfect place to ponder what it was like back when this ancient town was the capital of the newly liberated Hellenic Republic. That would be back in the early 1800's before Athens took over that title.

Bourtzi, centerpiece of Nafplio harbor

Nafplio has served as a seaport town since back in the Middle Ages. Legend has it that it was founded by Nafplios, son of Poseidon.  A stroll along the harbor is a must. No matter how many times we have visited, we always pause to admire the Bourtzi, a small Venetian fortress on  Agioi Theordoroi. What stories that little islet could tell!

Selections at Mediterraneo Wine Bar seemed endless

The city has a bit of something for everyone. You could easily spend several days immersed in history, visiting the Palamidi fort (reached by climbing some 900 steps up the face of the cliff or driving there) or visiting its Archaeological Museum and War History Museum. Shoppers likely will tire before visiting all the shops that line the pedestrian-friendly streets.  Old traditional Greek storefronts operate next to some of the sleekest, upscale fine dining restaurants and wine bars you could find outside Athens.

Even doors are picturesque in Nafplio
It is difficult to choose a hotel there as so many boutique, family-owned places tempt.  For those wondering, our hotel was following the strictest of coronavirus prevention mandates set forth by the Greek government:  our room key was sterilized in a special sanitation process, the room as spotless and the former serve-yourself buffet breakfast was served by a staff member.


View from our hotel room

Prior to the Coronavirus world, Nafplio was a a magnet for tourists - buses filled the parking lots and tourists filled the ancient narrow streets.  The city was pretty much empty when we visited.  (True confession:  it was nice having fewer people there.) Greece doesn't open its doors to international guests until July 1st so no telling what tourism will be like this summer. For the sake of businesses, we hope there are increased numbers.

Nafplio a photographer's paradise

We are off soon on one more road trip before the borders open. We are heading west this time to visit more Peloponnese favorites and will tell you about them in our next report.  We know that a number of you are still in varying stages of lockdown and we send our wishes to you: stay safe and stay well!

As always we thank you for the time you spend with us at TravelnWrite and a big welcome to our new readers - thanks for the wonderful emails you've sent!!

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