Showing posts with label Coronavirus in Greece. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coronavirus in Greece. Show all posts

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!!

Linking soon with:

Monday, March 16, 2020

Greece - A Dozen Days Later

The village on a Sunday afternoon this time of year is one of my favorite places on earth. The sun warms the stone buildings as we stroll our main -- and only -- street that stretches from one end of town to the other. A few fishing boats bob and sway in the harbor.  It is a great time to sip a cappuccino at a harborside café and contemplate nothing more serious than what one might eat for dinner.

Sunday afternoon Agios Nikolaos - streets are empty

Well, that is the way it was.  In fact, only a few days ago. Back before corona virus made itself an unwanted visitor in Greece as it is doing in so many places around the earth right now.

In last week's post, I wrote that back when I started writing it - now a dozen days ago - we had 9 identified cases in this Mediterranean country whose population numbered 10.9 million in 2017. Before I got that piece published, the cases jumped to 45.

In those dozen days many things about life in Greece have changed. First and foremost is the COVID-19 numbers: 228 cases, (38 identified on this past Saturday alone) and sadly, 4 fatalities.

Going into Lock Down

Gregg's Plateia - usually the village hub of activity 

Back a dozen days ago, the cancelled Carnivale celebrations were just the start of actions being implemented to curb the spread of this killer. Like dominos toppling into each other the prevention steps and related closures picked up momentum last Friday.

Not the time to visit Agios Nikolaos

The Greek government's response team is taking the threat seriously. And while what I tell you about life here right now may sound somewhat draconian, let me assure you it is comforting to know that tough decisions are being made, being implemented expeditiously and the citizens are functioning within our new guidelines. Not questioning. Not whining. Life is continuing. . .just differently and more cautiously.

An editorial praising the government's swift actions in Ekathimerini, our  English-language Greek paper noted that 'political rivalries have been put aside' and 'the main opposition party is on the same page.' It concluded: 'Energy cannot be wasted in political fighting when lives are at stake.'

How is that for a refreshing approach to politics in a time of pandemic?

Life in a Time of Coronavirus

Restaurants are closed - the village feels and looks empty

Greek schools closed for three weeks shortly after the Carnivale celebrations. Then came the cancellation of events and closure of  archaeological sites and museums and other attractions. Last weekend all restaurants, bars, tavernas and cafes were closed for two weeks.  If an establishment has take out beverages or food options you can stop by long enough to pick up the goods - but no more than five people are allowed to be together inside the establishment and they must stand two meters apart.

The police were patrolling the village on Saturday to assure compliance.

Wildflowers are in bloom in The Mani despite the crisis

By Saturday evening the government announced that all seasonal hotels, Airbnb, and other rentals registered with the tax office as 'seasonal' if open now must close by March 23rd. They will remain closed until  April 30th.


 * the border - air, sea and road - between Greece and our neighbors to the north, Albania and North Macedonia is closed.
* flights from Spain are no longer allowed to land in Greece.
* ferries traveling between Greece and Italy are allowed only to transport goods - human passengers are no longer allowed.
* cruise ship and sail boats are not allowed to dock in Greek ports.
* all organized beach and ski resorts are closed.
* retail operations are curtailed and services like hairdressers, nail salons, closed.
Violators face fines of up to 5,000 euros.

There are no restrictions on movement within the country. But who wants to travel?

The few retail operations limit the number of people inside at one time. Grocery stores were ordered to limit the number of customers inside at one time. (Not a problem, I might add, in our village.) People are behaving sensibly here.  We even have lots of toilet paper available although hand sanitizer and wipes are not to be found.

Clerks today are wearing gloves now and some have face masks.  Some stores are displaying large bottles of hand sanitizer and require you to use it before entering. Some are going about business as usual.

Is It Social Distancing or simply a Wellness Retreat?

Stoupa Beach Friday evening

We are now three days into this new Greek world and seem to be surviving quite well. In fact, it took this new behavior to make us realize how our daily life at The Stone House on the Hill, has been a sort of undefined social distancing all along. We go into town for errands or entertainment, usually related to food or drink. We've still got the grocery store and takeout and a bit of social interaction when running errands. Right now we don't even have neighbors in five of the seven houses on the hill as they've not yet returned from winter travels.

Our Stone House on the Hill far left, the village below

You know there are some people who pay enormous amounts of money to experience a wellness retreat - those get-away-from-television-people-phones kind of experiences? Those getaways that now sound a lot like high priced social distancing to me.

I Googled a few of those getaways and found them described as focusing on variations of spirituality, cuisine and art, and health - some within a cultural context. Whoa! That is exactly what we seem to be doing here -- and it is free of charge, every day!

So for those of you out there who are wringing your hands at being told by some governing body that you have to stay a bit closer to home, (and I know you are out there because I read FB!) just think of it as a wellness getaway:

Our new activity: hiking in the Mani

Your mind will be at ease knowing you are staying out of harm's (germ's) way, you have time to read those books you haven't yet gotten to, there's no excuse not to pursue some long-dreamed of hobby or you could dig out the cookbooks and see what culinary talents have been lying dormant within you!

Where ever you are in the world we hope you and your loved one's are safe from COVID-19. Continue to take the recommended prevention steps being recommended by health professionals around the world.

I leave you with a thought from a FB friend: 'Viruses are contagious. But so is panic, fear, hysteria, calm, grace, empathy, love and kindness.  Choose wisely which one you will spread.'

Hope to see you back here next week. In the meantime, how about a comment or email to let us know how you are doing in your part of the world?

Linking this week with:

Mosaic Monday
Through My Lens
Travel Tuesday
Our World Tuesday
My Corner of the World Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday


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