Nafplion has many charms but one them is not its name which can be spelled as Nafplion, Nafplio, Navplion, Nauplia, Anapli, or Ναύπλιο (the easiest for Americans to pronounce and spell). The Greeks could probably make a big dent in all of that debt if they could sell their excess town names to some underdeveloped country that is going to otherwise going to have to come up with a lot on its own. (Why are we the only ones who can come up with these obvious solutions?)
Despite Nafplion’s many names Blonde and Brunette were able to drive there after flying directly from the U.S. and picking up a rental car at the Athens airport. We drove around the airport for about as long as the actual trip to Nafplion. So, if you don’t do that, it’s probably about an hour and a half drive. (We aren’t sure about that either as we got lost along the way and Brunette’s notes only helpfully say “went through a lot of towns with goats and melons”.)
Going back to Nafplion was something Brunette had been plotting for the better part of 30 years. Early in her marriage she had gone to Greece with her husband who already had early-onset-grumpiness. They had arrived by tour bus in Nafplion in heavy rain and Brunette had a severe case of bronchitis. She had managed to get a literal glimpse of the place and resolved to return. Imagine her delight at doing so with the still-grumpy husband left at home this time!
We were in Nafplion the first week of September which appeared to be the perfect time. There were very few tourists, the weather was still hot and all of the shops and attractions were open. Fans of authenticity that we are we made our first stop at Gellateria di Roma. You may be thinking “Roma“? If so then you missed the more important word “gellateria”. We had trouble finding the town, but once there, efficiently beelined to the gellateria which had been recommended on several travel forums. The employees were very nice and offered us water, seats inside in the air conditioning and large scoops of gelato. Life was suddenly looking a lot better, jet lag and all.
From the center of town we got back in our rental car and left in search of the Hotel Perivoli. The hotel is outside of town by 373 km the first time you try to find it and 8.5 km after that. Brunette is the researcher and she’d read on Trip Advisor that the property was hard to find and had seen a picture of their signs on a travel forum or we still wouldn’t be there. Do not go there for the first time at night!
But once we did arrive, all was forgiven. It’s a very nice small, newish boutique hotel set among orange and olive plantations which you can view from the pool area. Brunette demands swimming pools which is why we were outside of the city but it was well worth it for the solitude and the charm of the two men who own and manage the place – Vagelis and Alex (of course their names probably also have multiple spellings).
After some rest and a dip in the pool we had dinner outside. Normally prone to scorning rose wine, when we were presented with two glasses of a brilliant pink from the region, we promptly fell in love with it- perhaps a bit more than medically recommended. Dinner was what it was – not on a menu, but what was being served. That evening it consisted of “boiled field grasses”, pastitsio (ground beef, pasta, and creamy bechamel sauce), grilled vegetables, a fresh fruit platter and toasted bread with tzatziki. With the exception of the field grasses it was very good – don’t fall for the field grass routine – they probably use that to test how stupid new guests are.
There are a lot of interesting sights in the Nafplion area. We went to the ancient Greek (duh) theater Epidavros (or Epidaurus or Επίδαυρος) which was designed in the 4th century BC and has perfect acoustics. We stood at the spot where one stands to acclaim and said thought provoking things such as “can you hear me now?” in tribute to old Verizon commercials in the States. Then we went to the ladies’ room, bought bottles of water (at the snack stand not in the ladies room) and declared that to be enough culture for us. (Elapsed time 25 minutes.) We headed to the town of Epidavros and enjoyed lunch at the Poseidon Hotel before heading back to our hotel for a swim.
Back in Nafplion in the evening we enjoyed walking along the harbor and looking out to the Bourtzi castle/fortess/thingee. Hungry again we went to Savouras for dinner. We wanted fresh fish and were somewhat disconcerted that that meant we had to go to the kitchen and, with the help of a nice man named George (maybe) pick the fish we wanted from a drawer. WTF – who does that? Greeks, that’s who. What were we looking for? We cluelessly made our choices based on the size of the fish as you pay by weight and we didn’t want to pay for dolphins. Every fish was called sea bream so maybe that’s what we had. In any event it was very enjoyable as was their house white wine and the flan and panacotta that somehow found their way to our table. The total for the two of us was a very fair 65 euros.
With our bulging bellies we waddled through the back streets in the old part of town and enjoyed the shops. They were a mish-mash of very cool stuff and touristy kitsch but the people watching was top-notch. Lots of exasperated hand motions and mustachioed faces. There were also some Greek men.
The following day we checked out of our hotel and set off for the Westin in Costa Navarinos (a 3 to 9 hour drive depending on how many times you drive a loop around the town of Argos). If we’d had more time in Nafplion we would have gone to the 18th century Palamidi fortress or possibly to the Peloponnesian Folklore Museum where we undoubtedly would have had a major giggle fit.
Nafplion deserves at least three nights of your time – we shortchanged it by only spending two nights. Or maybe we did it a huge favor.
P.S. If you want to keep wasting time you might enjoy our post that shows pictures from sailing the Ionian Islands (OK, there are a couple duplicate pictures but only maybe three. I mean really, what, you’re in the middle of performing a heart transplant? I didn’t think so.