For every class that I am taking here in Athens we have a field study where we go and explore a different part of Greece for a day or two. Our first trip of the semester was to Nafplio (Ναύπλιο), Greece. This seaport town in the Peloponnese was the capital of the First Hellenic Republic at the beginning of the Greek Revolution in 1821. It was the capital for only twelve years before that title was moved to Athens where it now remains. In mythology, Nafplius (Ναύπλιος) was the son of the sea god, Poseidon, and was said to be the founder of Nafplio. Makes sense, as much as a myth can. But really Nafplio comes etymologically from the Greek words “to sail” and “ship” to mean something along the lines of “Good-sailing City”. Makes even more sense (words, I tell you. they never cease to amaze me).
After a two hour bus ride with my fourteen peers and our three Modern Greek language teachers, we made our way through this picturesque city to find our lovely rooms. Hotel Mariana was nestled near the top of a hill overlooking the cities rooftops.
Next was our trek up the 999 steps to the crest of a hill where the Palamidi (Παλαμήδι) fortress is nestled. This castle was built in 1714 and was under the control of the Turks for a good one hundred years until the Greeks gained control. Legend says that there were originally 1000 steps until Theodoros Kolokotronis’ horse got a little too excited after the victory over the Ottomans and crushed one of the steps.
Every doorway you went through lead to even more steps, rooms, bridges, etc. Much exploring was done and as some one who quite enjoys climbing, wandering, discovering, and historical buildings, I had a pretty good time. As I was traversing, I found a protruding (and stable) ledge that was just calling my name. I climbed past a tree and seated myself enjoying the 65 degree Fahrenheit weather and fresh cool breeze. Later, I was approached by my teacher who was shocked that I chose to perch on this ledge. Apparently I was about 700 feet from the ground! I think it’s safe to say that I don’t have a fear of heights.
Much of the rest of the trip was up to us to wander the city and inspect by ourselves. We all met up later to have a dinner of souvlaki (σουβλάκι) together followed by gelato. Hours spent peering at the many trinkets offered in this cute town followed by sitting, sipping, and speaking at cafés. My favorite discovery was the Church of Aghios Anastasios. Saint Anastasios was martyred on February 1st, 1655 and is the patron saint of Nafplio. You were not allowed to take pictures inside, otherwise I would have of the beautiful images and wooden tabernacle. A beautiful place for a break and some prayer. Another great thing was all these little shrines, most to Mary, placed sporadically throughout the town.
A beautiful weekend and a wonderful way to spend my first weekend in Greece. Nafplio was such a lovely, pretty, and relaxed city that I would gladly visit again but after two days I was ready to head back home. And it was then on that bus ride back to Athens that I realized I had made the transition into picturing my awkward room in an apartment on a dirty street in a foreign country as my home. My comfortable, mismatched home.
“The world’s thy ship and not thy home.” – Saint Thérèse de Lisieux