November 12th
2009
written by Alonna

After two days in Athens, Ben and I picked up a rental car and headed out to the country.  Before this trip, I hadn’t heard much about Greece outside of Athens or the Greek Islands.  It turns out there’s A LOT more of the country to explore, and we barely even scratched the surface.
 
Our rental car in Greece Driving in Greece


Nafplio

We spent 3 nights in the small resort town of Nafplio.  The town itself is a great destination – with a pier, beaches, a cute downtown with shopping & restaurants, and cool castles from Venetian and Ottoman occupations.  We could have spent a lot more time there, but we were too busy exploring the nearby ruins…

Greece is literally covered in ancient ruins.  In Athens, if you dig anywhere you’ll probably uncover 2000-year old houses (I’ve heard this causes a lot of headaches for construction).  And the countryside is the same way.  Driving around, there are signs for Archeological Sites probably every 10 miles.  It’s amazing.  We were able to visit a few sights within a small radius of Nafplio, but I think we could return and spend months exploring the rest of the country.

Here’s some photos of Nafplio – we caught beautiful sunset one evening as we hiked around the castles.
 
Beautiful Nafplio, Greece Nafplio and the castles Castle at Nafplio Sunset in Nafplio Nafplio from a distance Breakfast with a (partially obstructed) view


Epidavros

On our way to Nafplio from Athens we stopped at Epidavros, which, among other ruins, has an enormous theater from the 4th century B.C. The acoustics in the theater are amazing, I climbed up to the top row, Ben stood in the middle and talked, and I could hear him perfectly.
 
Greek theater at Epidavros Alonna - Epidavros Racing track at Epidavros


Argos

The next day we explored various ruins in the area, including the nearby town of Argos. There was an ancient town (described by our hotel owner as the “first planned city in the world”), another large theater (carved directly out of the hillside!), and a Roman bath house and aqueduct. As a side note, there’s a lot of Roman ruins in Greece. As is the case all over Europe, many cities and buildings are occupied, added on to, and rebuilt over hundreds of years by different rulers. When Rome conquered Greece around 150 B.C., they moved in and built up the cities with their new modern techniques (running water, roads, great buildings, etc). So it’s very common to see a theater like the one in Argos which has had many modifications over the years. This one was built by the Greeks, and later the Romans added cages and nets to allow animal games on stage, and awnings to shade the attendees, and even later the ability to flood the stage for some kind of water performances. It’s fascinating to see these kind of ruins built on top of ruins.
 
Roman-modified Ancient Greek Theater Ben, ready for a performance Ancient Argos (theater in background) Argos (the walls were a Roman bath house) Exploring Greek ruins


Mycenae

Saving the best for last, we visited Ancient Mycenae on our 3rd day in Nafplio. The Mycenaean civilization existed in Greece between 1700 and 1100 B.C. which is basically before Ancient Greece really got started. In other words, this is OLD! The site is famous for the “Lion’s Gate”, a carved rock above the main entrance to the city. There’s also a huge tomb called the Treasury of Atreus, which has a 264,500 lb stone above the entrance. Nobody really knows how they were able to hoist up that huge of a rock. Crazy.
 
Mycenae (the sun-lit hill in the middle) Mycenae, 1700-1100 B.C. Main road leading to the Lion Gate Alonna at the Mycenae 'Lion Gate' View from Mycenae 'Cyclopean wall' at Mycenae Secret stairway to the water supply Treasury of Arteus - huge tomb at Mycenae Ben in a Mycenae tomb

2 Comments

  1. Janice
    11/12/2009

    hi Alonna! its been really nice following you and Ben around on your european trip. Greece looks really beautiful with the rolling mountains and great views … I like the one of Nafplio and the castles

  2. Robin Scott
    11/14/2009

    Incredible views, and I am sure it was relaxing without all the tourists!! And I know it was fun to drive after so much public transporation!

    What a beautiful world — so great you got to see so much of Europe!

    Love ya,
    Mom S