Well tickle me pink and colour me the colour of surprise (let’s say highlighter beige with fluorescent green polka dots). We did NOT expect Nafplio to be like it is. Although to be fair, we had no expectations of what it would be like. Located roughly the same distance from both Epidaurus and Mycenae, Nafplio was merely meant to be a base from which to explore those 2 places. But right from the moment we arrived, we completely fell in love with this gorgeous seaside town.
We were staying up the hill on the outskirts of the town as having a car afforded us the ability to stay a bit further out. (Plus we didn’t want the possible hassle of parking in an unknown town.) We wandered into the town shortly after arriving to stretch the legs after a short drive full of squeals, laughter, many engine revs, and general glee as we zipped along the roads. We were greeted by an extremely cute town with narrow streets, large public squares, achingly beautiful buildings, and a gorgeous stretch of coastline. And lots of cats.
We fell in love with Nafplio faster than a teenage boy falling in love with the first girl who talks to him. But despite this, the next morning we jumped into Doris and took off exploring. (Doris is the name we gave to our car, because she was a bit dull, had no concept of how gearboxes are meant to work, and was both small yet at the same time quite portly.)
First up was Mycenae. It was a brisk and wind swept day which just seemed to add to the experience. Despite being over 3,000 years old, the ancient city was in astonishingly good condition. Entering the city gate which was adorned with Europe’s oldest sculptures was a surreal experience, and the whole time we were in awe. Several times we felt like we were discovering it all over again thanks to the fact that we were the only ones there!
In the afternoon, we heading to Epidaurus to see the famous theater. It was hugely impressive, and we spent nearly an hour sitting on the ancient steps and listening to members of tour groups walking to the middle and trying out the acoustics.
What all of the tour groups missed however was the Temple of Asclepius, which if anything we found even more impressive than the theater. The huge sprawling complex seemed to join so many dots from history, such as the very room in which it was said that a sick man was visited by a snake while sleeping and was cured of his ailments. Which is why Asclepius always has a snake around him in his sculptures, and why European pharmacies have a snake wrapped around a cup as their symbol. It was also apparently where Asclepius’s daughter, Hygieia, assisted in curing people…and it’s her name which gave rise to the word “hygeine.” So yeah, we were pretty amazed walking around the site!
Our final day in Nafplio, we walked up to the Palamidi fortress which sits perched above the town watching over both it and the Argolic gulf. At only 300 years old, it was 10 times younger than the sites of the previous day, yet was in immaculate condition and provided stunning views across the gulf and over the town.
Nafplio, Epidaurus, and Mycenae had been one of our best travel experiences ever. A simply stunning region which had us grinning every hour of every day. There was also a cat at the hotel which would happily come inside and chill with us. Bonus!
Next stop, Sparti!