If I ever have the privilege to go back to Greece the only driver I want is Ernesti! I don’t know Ernesti’s last name but what I do know is that he is a BEAST on the road with his luxury Mercedes tour bus! We were introduced to Ernesti on the third day of our trip as we began the journey to the seaside town of Nafplio. Over the next five days we would visit the cities and historic sites of Mycenae, Olympia, and Delphi. We would cross the Gulf of Corinth, see the Corinth Canal and land on the Gulf of Argos. What we didn’t realize is that despite the constant views of water on many sides, we would make a very steep climb into the mountains by the time we reached our final destination in Delphi. The first few days in Athens were filled with the Acropolis, Museums, The Olympic Park and shopping at the Plaka. We were ready for a new adventure and a change of scenery.
First stop after about a 45 minute drive up a sea lined highway was the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion. Again miles upon miles of beautiful scenery, after parking we had a quick hike to the temple. Every site we visited a guide met us and explained the historical significance and the relevance of the location. What I learned was the ancient Greeks worship the sun and water, everywhere we visit has some proximity to a sea view. In my mind I was trying to figure out how was this temple built? These are architectural marvels and was simply amazed by the beauty of my surroundings and filled with gratitude that I had the opportunity to have the experience.
Cape Sounion Temple of Poseidon
Regardless of your religious beliefs, nature has a way of reminding us that God smiles based on the beauty and love we feel connecting with our environment. How could I refuse to stop, take time and reflect in this moment.
The journey to Nafplio would take about three hours, Ernesti cranked the AC, we all got comfortable, most of the kids took naps, but I was completely engrossed in the scenery. As a seasoned traveler, views excite me, but I was completely unprepared for the sheer raw beauty of Greece. I had seen it on TV, in pictures, read magazines, but nothing compares to the experience of actually seeing the sights and breathing the sea air. I was falling in love with life again by sharing in its beauty. When you are at peace your brain functions at a different level, you are inspired to search within yourself for the passions that have been absent from your life for years. So as I watched the scenery I was also reflecting on my life and the changes I needed to make within myself to increase my happiness. That started with accepting the place I was at in my life at that exact moment. No, it wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be, but it was still better than the place I had been six months ago. So I sat back, smiled and enjoyed the moment because who knew if I would be blessed to have this experience again.
Regardless of where we went and despite the heat, vegetation was everywhere. There were trees all over with nets under them, olive trees. Yes, many families even make their own olive oil, who knew? We were now crossing a spectacular feat of engineering, the Rio Antirrio Bridge, no words can explain, we stopped for a quick photo opp, and were headed to the Canal of Corinth and a quick stop for lunch.
Rio Antirrio Bridge
Excited for the rest stop, a quick lunch and a view of The Corinth Canal, and that is exactly what it was, a quick stop. We pulled up to what looked like an outdoor rest stop with a large gift shop and cafe. We had to work in shifts because we didn’t have much time. Someone was ordering and collecting the food, in the restroom, and I walked over to take a picture of the Corinth Canal. The canal was a quick walk, there was an area built over the highway so that you were standing on top of the canal looking directly over the water on either side. The water was a perfect shade of turquoise and I marveled at the narrowness of what seemed to be an act of engineering genius to create. I rushed back to the cafe, quickly ate my souvlaki (chicken on a skewer) checked out the gift shop, grabbed a few of my favorite snacks and back on the bus.
We pulled into Nafplio early in the afternoon, a small town surrounded by water and full of historical artifacts, churches, quaint cafes, shops, and art galleries. After unloading, and checking in we had the rest of the day free to explore the city. We had a long day planned that began early the next morning so we were all excited to be off on our own. That’s the beauty of doing a tour as an adult traveler, YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE KIDS!!!!!!!!!! Now don’t get me wrong, I still didn’t want anyone going home pregnant. We hit the town on foot, checked out the shops, met an Italian couple from Poland making gelato, discussed the flavors and the challenges of the holiday season. We walked over to the port and realized we were in an unauthorized area, but who knew, we couldn’t read the signs LOL.
Time to get serious, back to the room, dropped our bags and went in search of the beach. We were told it was a 20 minute walk up the hill. We met a few Americans who were on vacation and they told us we were headed in the right direction. Finally we could see the beach, a million steps down now! Many of the kids were in the freezing cold water on this beautiful pebble beach. It was at a minimum 90 degrees daily so I did not understand why the water was so cold but we were determined to at least put our feet in the water. I didn’t want to risk getting sick swimming, Caribbean people really don’t do swimming in water below 80 degrees so I wasn’t taking any chances. The beach was beautiful and I had never seen a beach with only pebbles, no sand, just pebbles!
Enjoying the sunset brought on swarms of mosquitoes. Quickly we headed up those steps and back down the hill only to find the light reflecting off the square in a spectacular scene. Elders sat around smoking cigars and drinking coffee as we walked and waved. I longed for another day in Nafplio to explore, it was filled with excitement and mystery that would continue to captivate my senses for several days to come.
The Three Admirals Square
Sadly I wasn’t able to buy a book or spend time reading about the history in Nafplio. What I do know is that if you are a romantic like me, you don’t need to head to Santorini to fall in love. Nafplio is beauty in all aspects, the sea, the food, the history, and most importantly the warm loving people.
Blessings and many romantic travel adventures ~Ny