After a short while in Athens, I was ready to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city. At the recommendation of a friend, I rented a hotel in Nafplio. I can't stress enough how great of a choice this was! Greece is fully past the shoulder season and into winter. The weather has still been warm enough for me to ride my bike, and lounge in shorts and a shirt. But the allegedly huge crowds of tourists are nowhere to be found. That's been a huge blessing, with the exception of the few times that I've been in a mood to go out and socialize. Doing that is difficult, since many of the shops and bars closed. Nevertheless, the serenity that Nafplio provided was very much what my soul needed and I left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
This was the patio of the apartment I rented in Nafplio. As you can see, it was tucked into the hills overlooking the city. I cannot overstate how peaceful and quiet this was. Watching the colors change as the sun set on Nafplio was a great way to end my evenings. A large portion of Nafplio is right on the coast, and of course is lined with all manners of shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. This is the Bourtzi Fortress, which is just off the coast of the city. One interesting fact is that in the 19th century, the fortress became the sole residence of the town executioner. It seems like quite the fitting house for such a gruesome professional. It certainly invokes a strong sense of wanderlust, doesn't it? I spent one day cycling a whopping forty miles down the coastline. At one point, I stumbled across this nifty little area to relax and enjoy the sound of the waves. It was surrounded by farmland on all sides, the nearest town still a few miles away. A beautiful church that I came across on my cycling adventure. I found these pretty flowers lining a walkway to the beach, and simultaneously discovered "portrait mode" on my phone. It made for a great photo! One of the towns I passed through on my bike - I believe this is Kiveri. At the beginning of my cycling trip, I was passing a decent number of small fishing villages. By the end, I found myself squarely in the middle of nature. Quite a great place to be! Captivated by a small walking trail I noticed off the main road, I chained up my bike and went exploring. In no time, I came across this small cove with a perfect little beach. Whilst hiking back up from the cove, I almost missed this cave at the top of a cliffside! It was quite the scramble to get up to it, but my curiosity was piqued. The cave was fairly shallow, but there were signs that someone was living there for at least a short while. Or perhaps just a temporary campsite? Wow, not a bad view from inside the cave! I wouldn't mind spending a few nights here. My curiosity still clouding my judgement, I sorted through the trash and found this Coke can. After giving it a wash, I found it was remarkably well preserved. The expiration on the bottom of the can was stamped August 1989. After moonlighting as a garbage man and archaeologist, I headed back to my bicycle. These small shrines, called kandylakia, are found all along the streets in Greece. They can be for prayer, remembrance, and possibly even just decoration. Snagged a photo of my bike. It was around this point that I started to realize how far I had come. More importantly, how far I had to cycle to get back home! I rode for just a few more miles after this. There was a compelling cape that I wanted to see the other side of. The next day, I took my bicycle in the other direction - away from the coast and up to the Fortress of Palamidi, which looms over the entire city. The fortress was constructed in the late 1600s. There was a lot of history behind it, as various civilizations rose and fell with the walls silently watching. One last shot of the fortress, where you can see some of the interesting variety in construction, as well as get a scale of how large of a footprint it has! While the fortress of Palamidi was impressive, it didn't hold a candle to the Acrocorinth, which I visited on my way out of Nafplio. This absolutely massive acropolis of Corinth dates back to the 3rd century BC! The Acrocorinth is positioned high in the mountains. Luckily I had a car to get me here, as my bike would have been quite the long uphill ride! The Corinthian acropolis was continuously occupied until the early 19th centruy. From the tower pictured here, defenders could see for miles and miles in every direction. One final photo of the Acrocorinth, with only a lone tree still standing guard over the walls. I've been spending a lot of time with my own thoughts, which has given rise to cocktail bars and books. I've been reading , to compliment my time in Greece. Heroes by Stephen Fry One of my favorite parts of Nafplio was the fresh fish that restaurants served. You could easily head to the coastline and eat fish basically straight from the boat. Of course, I've been dining on all manners of delicious food. Souvlaki, pita, tzatziki, fish, gyros, salads, fish...the list goes on and on!
Finally, one of the best meals I've had in a long time. And it was all made by me, from scratch! Fresh salmon with olive oil and herbs, raspberry vinaigrette salad, and bruschetta with fresh feta cheese. For dessert, a bowl of Greek yogurt with fruits and nuts. Really proud of this one!