A Travellerspoint blog

Monday 27th April – Epidavros theatre/s

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Visited ancient Epidavros theatre and the seaside village of Ancient Epidavros – the latter mainly for Dave to revisit old ground from 1977 that was rekindled by the previous day’s visit to the small but quite amazing Archaeological Museum in Nafplio where there was a display about excavations at Ancient Epidavros.

We drove quite easily out of Nafplio and were soon at the famous and well known site of Epidavros. Jan could hardly walk due to having walked down the 909+ steps the previous day, but battled on bravely. This Epidavros is mainly known for its theatre – seats about 14,000 people and is used still very summer for concerts. Dates from about C 3rd BC, and most tourists go to see it and not what it was really famous for, which is the similarly aged sanctuary of Asklepios, which was known over many years for its healing powers and in fact seemed to act in many ways like a hospital. There was also something to do with Apollo who had displaced the Mycenaean deity who also practiced there. And then there was the god of healing – Asklepios, which this whole thing seemed mainly to be about. Basically it seemed that they gave the sick a good feed, a pep talk and some special (probably clean) water and then you had a sleep and woke up OK. There was also some attempt at surgery in the later years – and on display they had some of the surgical instruments. Give me a good feed and a sleep any day.
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We visited the theatre end first and were blessed with not too many tourists performing on the centre stage, where it reputed that all the audience can hear a coin drop – people dropped coins, sang solos, sang in groups etc. It was easy to hear them from up in the theatre – quite amazing for such a big open air space – and you could hear a coin drop. We spent a couple of hours then pottering around the large and expansive Asklepios site. They are restoring a few of the temples, but there was plenty else to look at, particularly more water systems and drainage, one of Jan’s passionate interests. It appears her real aim in life was to be a drainage/sewerage archaeologist. I have suggested she starts another travel blog about drainage systems in Greece. She has a good collection of photos to include.

Went on to Ancient Epidavros and found the area Dave remembered – but I think he should write about it. Ok, tis Dave talking now. Barb/Tig and I camped in Ancient Epidavros and on a walk in the evening came across a theatre that was partly excavated – but the more important olive trees were all left alive and intact, like pillars metres high amongst a few rows of what looked like very old seats in some ancient theatre. I have photos of the theatre (and the olive trees). From what I saw in the Nafplio museum it seemed likely that the theatre we saw back in 1977 was now part of much bigger excavations in Ancient Epidavros.

So after the big Epidavros, Jan and I pottered down to Ancient Epidavros to see if we could find it. We sure did – and the nearby camping ground under an orange grove where Tig and I had camped. Unfortunately the site was fenced off to tourists as there were still excavations being undertaken. The theatre part was fully excavated and easily visible, and then there were covers over some very extensive and complete Roman baths that were adjoining the theatre. There was a team of guys digging in a new trench nearby (well as is the habit, one of them was digging and the other 5 were talking/arguing/gesturing). After we’d had a look we wandered over to them and spoke to one of them – and he told us about the theatre and baths. He was very passionate about it all and asked where we were from – when he knew it was Australia the conversation moved to bushfires which sidetracked us from more talk about Ancient Epidavros. We wandered around some more and there were bits and pieces of evidence of old buildings everywhere. A fun and intimate site –a nice finish to the day.
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Posted by Jan_n_Dave 12:36 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Sunday 26th April - around Nafplio

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Another day around Nafplio. Dave still not 100% but well enough to attempt the 999 steps to the other old Venetian fort. (And there were 909 to the ticket gate and many more after the gate – Jan counted – but on the way down.)
Huffed and puffed (along with coughing and wheezing) our way up the steps. The fort is an impressive structure dating from some time in the 1700s. There are walls within walls covering an enormous area and amazing views over both sides of the Aegean. Ended up spending a couple of hours wandering around. Coming down the 909 steps was just about worse than going up them.

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Back to join the locals and the mainly Greek tourists to have coffee in one of the many places specializing in cakes, coffee and ice creams on the main square. The chairs and tables are organized so you sit looking at the passing people and what’s happening in the square. And lots happens in the square – children on skate boards, kicking balls, holding balloons that their parents have bought from one of the gypsies (is this the right word to use these days?), young and old promenading up and down the square. This is really the place to be. You are never hassled to pay and leave. If you buy something, I think you could sit all day.

Having coffee out is for special occasions cause a non-Greek coffee costs around E3 – E3.50 (double that for Aussie $s). Needless to say we generally make coffee where we are staying. Have tried the Greek coffee but really can’t get excited by it. Perhaps you are paying for the privilege of being able to sit for as long as you like?? Like in Paris.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 12:32 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Saturday 25th April - around Nafplio

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A non-driving day to give Dave a rest. Spent the day wandering around Nafplion and up around one of the two land based fortresses (the other one’s on a little island in the bay - I’m sure it will feature in a photo at some stage). Dave’s now got the cold/flu that Jan’s had so not feeling great either.

First stop was the trendy waterfront along the old port – now overdone with bars/cafes (not even tavernas!). The water was perfectly flat, the sea amazingly clear blue with reflections of the boats. There were two guys on one small fishing boat who had recently moored and started to sharpen their knives to carve up some largish fish and sell it from the boat - from the colour of the flesh it looked like tuna but not sure if they have tuna in the Mediterranean? Maybe big mackerel?

Ate our breakfast on a seat overlooking the bay and the above mentioned small island fortress. A pretty cool breeze was blowing though, so we wandered off. Went into a few shops – and avoided one that had stunningly beautiful gold and silver jewellery - with stunningly priced price tags attached. After those prices we were a bit apprehensive about how expensive the good local crafts and stuff would cost, but Dave persuaded Jan to go into a shop with beautiful clothes and jewellery, where to our surprise the prices were reasonable for the quality. Jan has promised to revisit and try on some clothes and look at the jewelry too. Another good place was a weaver –some beautiful hand loomed scarves in cotton, silk and wool.

Took the lift up to the expensive hotel at the closer of the two fortresses (due to Dave’s health) and wandered around the top and then made our way down and around the point back to town for an afternoon stroll.
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Back to our rooms for Dave to snooze and Jan to do some work now that we have internet access. So our travel blog we hope will be almost up to date as you read this. Found that Steph was up late working in Melbourne, so some “live” chats with her via email. Hope her shoot went well in Kinglake on Sunday. Had spaghetti cooked in our room for dinner – with some cheap red plonk - $4 a bottle stuff that comes in 1.5 litre plastic bottles.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 08:26 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Friday 24th April - Good bye Crete, hello Peloponnese.

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View The BIG Greek trip on Jan_n_Dave's travel map.

Visited ANOTHER Minoan ruin (at Malia) on our way to the airport. Each time you get a better feel for what it must have looked like. There is a small museum at the Malia site which has models of what they think the buildings must have been like – quite amazing 2 and 3 storey palaces with wide staircases and light wells (and of course great drainage and plumbing).

To Athens where we eventually picked up the car (Hyundai Getz) and to Nafplio, about2 hrs drive from Athens mainly along motorways. Many people travelling at what must be 180+ kms. A bit scary really – especially as we trundle along in our little Getz.

Nafplio is beautiful. We are staying in a Pension in the old part of the town, close to the fortress. The room doesn’t have a view but is large and opens on to a courtyard and has a (sort of) kitchenette. The old part of the town has small streets, of course, is built on a harbor and up the slope of the hill to the fortresses (there are 2). The fortresses are Venetian and the town, reportedly, has many Venetian buildings. Hard to know if you haven’t been to Venice. However, the houses have tiled roofs and are sloping, not flat as they mainly were in Crete. Balconies jut out over the streets which are full of Greek tourists and some very nice shops.
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Dave’s promised note re driving in Greece: Driving is as expected, but not as scary as I’d thought. I guess having now driven a few times in Europe in the last few years it doesn’t feel quite as unnatural sitting and driving in the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road with the gears (and wipers/indicators) on the wrong side. In fact I don’t think I’ve hit the windscreen wiper switch once when wanting t do a turn! The roads in Crete were dreadful and the drivers pretty crazy as we expected, but I managed to drive their way OK and pass the slow moving tourists across the double lines when necessary and move into the shoulder when the speedy locals wanted to pass. They really do pass each other in dangerous ways and completely ignore the speed limits and double lines etc. But I think we both found driving easier than we expected.

The first day of driving in mainland Greece out of Athens was a different experience though. And so, so different from when Barb/Tig and I had been there in 1977 with the crazy, crowded, slow and noisy traffic conditions when we would have been lucky to ever get to 60 kph anywhere within cooee of Athens city. Obviously the development for the Olympics meant that Athenians now have a very good freeway system (with expensive tolls) and the Greeks being Greek drive at hair raising speeds. I tried to travel at a reasonable speed in the little Getz but 110 kph was extremely slow (apart from a few trucks and old cars). Many cars were going at well over 150 kph and they appear out of nowhere it seems. Once we were off the freeway at Corinth things slowed down a bit as the roads became more normal. Will be interesting to see how we fare as we start to travel more locally for the next 4 weeks.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 08:21 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Thursday 23rd April - Latsida and Milatos

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Last full day at Latsida and the weather wasn’t great – cool, cloudy and windy. We had planned a lazy day reading and working on the roof but weather much too cool and we had to retreat inside.

Went to the local beach / fishing village (Milatos) in the afternoon. Absolutely delightful. It really was a fishing village + many tavernas and a few holiday places to stay. Wandered along the pebble (stone) beach and up to a chapel on a hill (many chapels on many hills). When future generations dig up the remains of this era on Crete they will comment on the religious buildings on relatively remote spots with amazing views. We haven’t figured out why all the chapels in these spots but assume we will before we leave Greece.

Although not really into the pebble beaches, the sound the stones/pebbles make as they tumble gently with the movement of the waves is pretty good – restful.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 06:18 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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