It’s All Greek to Me

27 Jan

Right off the bat, it’s easy to name so many great things that came out of Greece: Greek mythology, philosophy, architecture, democracy, Hercules, Greek salads…you know, the important stuff.

It had been my plan for several months to go here and so, from Cyprus, I hopped on a plane and headed to this stunning country where Ben would meet me upon arrival.

 

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Blue and white flag against the blue and white sky… Okay so maybe a grey and grey sky, but you know what I mean.

 

We landed in the evening about 45 minutes apart and to welcome him, I held up the handmade photo sign I drew in Cyprus with Despina’s help. It’s a good thing we weren’t replying only on that sign to find each other.  When he arrived, we “laughed” about the uncanny resemblance between my hand drawn picture and his face as we went to pick up the rental car.

 

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RIP selfie stick Dec. 2017- Feb 2018. Gone too soon.

 

The guy at the car rental place was extremely friendly, and interested in our excursions so he spent an extra 10 minutes giving us the inside scoop on cool locations we should add to our road trip itinerary. He snuck history, olive oil, wine, and where to find good food into the conversation, and we couldn’t all help but laugh at the fact that in the short amount of time we had been in Greece he had fulfilled almost every Greek stereotype.

So with his recommendations resting snugly in our pockets, we drove to our Airbnb only to find out that the guy had tried to contact us to tell us there was no power. This meant that we couldn’t shower (fine by me) or charge our phone in the house (we had a car charger), and all of this was going to be fine. When life gives you olives (which are actually really disgusting when they come right off the tree), make olive oil!   And anyways, the guy provided us with a couple of candles and of course we had our phone flashlights — We were happy.

The next day, we woke up and the sun was shining!  We were thrilled.  For breakfast, we went to a restaurant across the street; I got a salad, and Ben had a coffee, a baked good, and ate a fresh olive off the tree.  Like I said earlier, fresh olives are a solid 0 on a scale of 10 to delicious. They don’t taste anything like they do when they are prepared properly (i.e., set in salt water for at least one month) and make your mouth really dry.  So after that lesson learned and an otherwise average breakfast, we headed south on a heavily tolled road towards Nafplio, including the scenic route to Epidaurus theater.

 

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Ben performing a monologue.

 

Epidaurus theater dates back to the 4th century BC and can seat 14,000 people. It’s renowned for its acoustics, and people still perform there today during the summers. Since we were visiting in January and missing the shows, Ben and I decided to hold our own little performances. We took turns walking up to the top of the stairs (which was quite a feat because the stairs are very uneven), and whoever decided to stay in the middle would recite soliloquies from Greek dramas to the other. In the picture above, Ben is in the middle of quite the Greek tragedy. It was cool how easily you could hear him even without a microphone.  We were more of a traveling theater company than pop stars on tour, but we did get the full experience when a group of senior Italians decided to test the acoustics by singing Italian songs and dancing. All of sudden, we heard a whistle blowing, and it wouldn’t stop. Was someone really into this performance and providing instrumental accompaniment? Nope, turns out the theater has fun police who came down to tell the Italian group to stop. There was no singing or dancing allowed to which Ben and I wanted to say in the most dramatic fashion, but this is the theater, darling, the show MUST go on!

 

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There are statues of old Greek statues.  Confused?  Yeah, same. These are replicas.

 

We also happened upon this little treasure trove with statues. They were the first Greek statues we saw during this trip! I must know more. I thought. So I went over to read the plaques only to find out that these were merely plaster replications of Greek statues–statues of statues…okay. I was a little disappointed, but took a photo to remember the occasion when I thought I saw my first Greek statue in Greece.

Anyway, we continued on to Nafplio, making another seaside stop when we spotted some beachgoing puppies (because, c’mon…puppies), and after some good pettin’ and playing, we headed the long way back to Nafplio. Especially after being in the Ukraine, I was really impressed with the roads here.

 

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Do you sea how beautiful this is… and do you sea what I did there?

 

Oh, Nafplio! I could write an ode to your beautiful seas and to your free and abundant parking– the best parking in all of Europe! Is this what love feels like? So, once we parked in one of the many available spaces Nafplio had to offer, Ben and I walked around, had some dolmas and our very first Greek Salad. While we were eating the bread appetizer,  Ben said he didn’t want any olive oil on his plate, and I was like “…um.  Okay.”  It didn’t take long for Ben to realize that Greece is olive oil. Olive oil is Greece, and he never made that ridiculous request again.  

 

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Olive you from my head tomatoes.

 

So once we ate some more salad with EXTRA extra virgin olive oil, we got some Italian gelato and went for a hike among that castles in Nafplio, which light up at night and create the most magical scene.

 

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View from my throne.

 

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View of another Nafplio castle. My wallet doesn’t know that I’m royalty, so we only visited the free castle.

 

That night, we slept at a CouchSurfer’s apartment. His name is Fotis, and he works on fixing huge wind turbines. I’m telling you… you meet so many cool people through CouchSurfers.

Anyways, after a restful night, we went to a Greek market, and I fell in love again, so since I didn’t write an ode to the parking situation, I felt it was necessary for the market:

 

An Ode to a Greek Market

Oh, Greek market on the streets of Nafplio
Your vendors do not harass me as I walk past the stands
And question whether to buy.
Your cherry tomatoes, so cheap, so fresh
Are as red as the blood that gives me life
And oh, blood that gives me life! You have been sweetened
By the cheap, delicious blood oranges that rest
Next to the cheap olives, of which
The three types reflect the three forms of love.
Per kilo, perhaps, but cheap you remain.
Oh Greek market! The pleasure remains to walk through
Your kiosks over and over again.

 

…And yeah, did I mention that everything was cheap? *swoon*

 

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Fruit so beautiful you could write a poem about it!

 

Honestly, I could probably write an ode to every aspect of Nafpoli including our gorgeous cliff walk. Everything in this country is so picture perfect; we couldn’t stop commenting on how happy we were, and how nice the weather was, and how inviting the water looked and “why doesn’t everyone come to Greece in January?!”

 

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50 shades of blue is JUST as enticing.

 

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On our walk, we spotted some cactuses off the hillside that were growing prickly pears. Ok, so I love wild fruit like Winnie the Pooh loves honey, so just like he would risk some bumblebee stings, I was willing to risk some cactus stings if it meant getting a taste of those prickly pears. Turns out, it wasn’t the cactus that stung me but the prickly pears which have actual prickles all over them — prickles that found their way into my hands.  Sad face.  I spent the following two hours trying to get them out and also trying not to complain.   It was my fault this happened and Ben didn’t need to hear about it.  And I mean, yeah, if you’re asking, I did eat the fruit (it was delicious), but was it really worth it when this place had incredible food to begin with??  Hindsight is 20/20 my peeps, so I think I’ll stick with buying my prickly pears — hold the prickles — at the market.

 

So after the prickly pear debacle, and after Ben finally agreed to hold my hand once I removed all of the thorns, we had had one more really nice meal in Nafplio before we headed off down the coast where we enjoyed more spectacular views. It was getting dark by the time we found a place to stay for the night and it ended up being closed. January is a great time to come here because there aren’t very many tourists, but January is also a more challenging time to come here because there aren’t very many tourists. No tourists means not as many things are open. So we kept driving around in the dark, which was neither Ben’s nor my first choice. But we ended up finding a spot farther away from the beach for 40 euros a night. The room came with a kitchen, so we decided to head to the local grocery store where we bought some tortellini, sauce, and incredible cheese and went back to cook one delicious meal — we even incorporated those lovely cherry tomatoes from the Greek market.  

 

But no, no. Our meal wasn’t delicious. For some reason the tortellini was disgusting (couldn’t tell you why…maybe it needed to soak in some salt for a month like the olives). But we were hungry, and everything else was closed. So we decided to eat our barely edible dinner and curled up to watch an episode of Black Mirror (is it just me or is season 4 just as bad as this tortellini?). We turned in early because, as always, tomorrow held the promise of an early adventure.

Olive you,
‘mi

 

2 Responses to “It’s All Greek to Me”

  1. Timothy Paul Westbrook February 20, 2018 at 4:28 pm #

    The Greek Salad pic looks great! It’s hard to find a good Greek Salad in my area of the US.

  2. deekerson February 22, 2018 at 8:26 pm #

    Olive you from my head tomatoes plus one!

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