Nafplion, Corinth and away

Post

Comments Off on Nafplion, Corinth and away   |   Travel

Fort

Fort

Fortunately we left the terrible Esperia Hotel early and headed to Nafplion. This is a quaint city that was a former capital of Greece at the beginning of the 19th century. The city is dominated by a complex of fortresses. They can be visited but it was hot. Anna and I chose to stay in the marbled old town and enjoy a coffee. Anna was able to purchase an eye bracelet here.

Nafplion Street

Nafplion Street

We all met up again at the cool harbour which also boasts a small island fort and travelled to Epidaurus, another World Heritage site. Here there is a magnificent amphitheatre and a shrine to Asclepius, the god of medicine. On the way we stopped to collect a local official tour guide. The bus driver nearly missed the meeting point and braked hard. Too hard for the car following. Bang. It felt bad and I thought our trip was over. Luckily, after an exchange of words and gestures, the Fiat drove off.

Ruins

Ruins

After the ruins we were taken to the mandatory tourist trap where we could buy local ceramics. Anna and I watched a potter make a lovely vase on a wheel from scratch.

Our next destination was Mycenae, the city of gold. Here we visited a range of sites, beginning with the treasury of Atreus or the tomb of Agamemnon which

Agamemnon's Tomb

Agamemnon’s Tomb

is truly amazing. It was constructed during the Bronze Age around 1250 BC. The lintel stone above the doorway weighs 120 tons, the largest in the world. The tomb was used for an unknown period. We then moved on to the Mycenaen Citadel and museum. In the second millennium BC, Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae.

The first excavations at Mycenae were carried out by the Greek archaeologist Kyriakos Pittakis in 1841. He found and restored the Lion Gate. In 1876, Heinrich Schliemann started a complete excavation at the site.[47][48][49] Schliemann believed in the

Lion Gate

Lion Gate

historical truth of the Homeric stories and interpreted the site accordingly. He found the ancient shaft graves with their royal skeletons and spectacular grave goods. Upon discovering a human skull beneath a gold death mask in one of the tombs, he declared: “I have gazed upon the face of Agamemnon”.

After an ice cream stop we began the road trip back to Piraeus. Ania broke the journey with a stop at the Corinth Canal. The canal cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland, thus effectively making the former an island. The builders dug the canal through the Isthmus at sea level; no locks are employed. It is 6.4 kilometres (4.0 mi) in length and only 21.4 metres (70 ft) wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships. It now has little economic importance.

wpid803-20130722-Corinth-Canal-002.jpg

Corinth Canal

The canal was mooted in classical times and an abortive effort was made to build it in the 1st century AD. Construction finally got underway in 1881 but was hampered by geological and financial problems that bankrupted the original builders. It was completed in 1893, but due to the canal’s narrowness, navigational problems and periodic closures to repair landslips from its steep walls, it failed to attract the level of traffic anticipated by its operators. It is now used mainly for tourist traffic.

In 1988 submersible bridges were installed at sea level at each end of the canal, by the eastern harbour of Isthmia and the western harbour of Poseidonia. Ania took us to see one and out timing was perfect. A sloop was passing through and the bridge was under water. We were able to watch it return to the surface and even see the operator rescue some stranded fish.

We travelled back to Piraeus and then by ferry back to Crete where we spent the day in Hania. I had a major fright in the morning. We were taken by bus from the port to our hotel. Moments after the bus was out of sight I realised I had left my bag containing my wallet, phone and ebook behind. I screamed in anguish. Ania again came to the fore. She assured me it would be ok and true to her word, 3 hours later an employee of the bus company brought it to the hotel.

We left for Warsaw via Heraklion at 2 am the next morning.