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Sunday, May 31, 2015

About those stairs...

I did mention them in the previous post, and you might want to see some of the "official" 999 that lead to the fortress of Palamidi. According to Wikipedia, it's only 913, but who do you believe: local folk or some Internet site?!? Yes, these photos confirm that I walked 'em (sure felt like 999) up and down again!

Note the bowed heads. This climb is not for the weary or weak of will. And what you find at the top is a true crusader fort, built by the 17th C. Venetians to fend off the Turks. Who knew that the empire of Venice extended to Greece. Remember the opening scene of Robin Hood, starring Kevin Costner? Well, this fortress has a prison just like the one he was held in...darn scary! 

Great full moon photo of the fortress here. Wish I was in correct photographic position to take my own image, but this one is spectacular, don't you think. 

The perspective here gives you a sense of how far down it is to Nafplio (216 feet for those who delight in exact numbers).

A good view of the rocky peninsula. Start in town, to the right of the big green tree, find the walkway and keep the water on your right. In 30 minutes, depending on how many distractions you encounter, (*) you'll see a rocky beach bedecked with jeweled bikinis. Waterfront bar with shaded bar tables and blaring music make it clear that this is Athens beach paradise.

* I was entertained for ten minutes as I watched pre-teen boys jockey into position for a daredevil dive into crystal blue water. Only one of the four actually made it into the water, but it was fun watching them work up the courage — or not! — to leap. When the beach police came up behind them, their body language spoke "Relief" to be dry instead of still dripping from a recent illicit plunge. 

Almost heaven — Nafplio

Photo impressions of this first capitol of Greece. On a rocky outcrop — more on that in the next posting after I've walked to Palamidi Castle: 999 steps UP! & down, of course— this small peninsula juts into aquamarine waters of Argolikos Gulf. How small, you ask: one can walk across, up, down and across it in 15 minutes or around it in 30.

Totally touristic, but in a welcoming Zorba the Greek way — "but why not!?!" are the words I've heard most often, so far. Nafplio is FULL of restaurants, tchotchke, swimsuit, and ice cream shops. Flowers and window displays with artistic flair subvert the kitsch. Balloon man and organ grinder delight the jillions of children here for the holiday weekend. Friendly service welcomes me at every turn.

In less than 24 hours, I'm smitten :-)

Every street is a bower of bougainvillas - restaurants open for mid-day meals and really start hopping at about 10 PM, busy until way past midnight. Smart hoteliers install AC. Close windows and turn on fan: dreams come quickly to tired travelers — that was me, last night!

Green-framed view from my room. Pedestrian zone keeps vehicle noise to a minimum, although occasional small motorcycles buzz down alley-wide street like bees to the blossoms. Yes, there are stairs, lots and lots of stairs!

What to do with those unused concrete blocks? Paint them, stack them, and serve coffee & ice cream!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Oh!— Athens, part two.

So, I wandered along Avenu Andreanou looking for Savvas Roof Garden but why look further when the Stoa of Attalos rises before me, and a friendly waiter beckons :-) After a quick discussion about grilled fresh catch, I sat, admired the stoa and went, via iPad, from the waiter's few words to some history.
 Draped in a peplos, your travel-weary feet strapped into swarthy leather sandals, you can imagine engaging in business affairs at this stoa attached to the the agora...modern day: business exchange and "farmers' market."  The stoa, destroyed in 267 a.d. by Germanic barbarians, lay in ruins until the John D. Rockefeller fortune provided funds for rebuilding in the 1950's. 

Timely coincidence: the treaty expanding the Eurozone was signed here in 2003. Will this month bring about its collapse or slide into decline? Athens is busy, cellphone shops are full, outdoor restaurants have few empty tables. Not many visible signs on Athens streets that the eurozone is on shaky ground, but there were plenty of sidewalk beggars (were they always there?) vying for position against graffiti-scrawled classical stone walls. Some revolutionary images but most graffiti was Greek to me.

No ordinary apple for this teacher : Attalos build the stoa in gratitude for the teachings of the Skeptic philosopher, Karneades. Great setting for this retired "kitchen table philosopher," as one professor called me, to dine on fresh fish and grilled veggies with a glass of dry white wine!

Oh!— Athens, part one.

Amazing mix of the most modern and most ancient. One walks along a busy, littered city street and suddenly, empty airspace appears. Look down:

No sign or other information — just one of myriad ancient ruins not yet allowed to fall victim to urban redevelopment. This site is NO one-off; I passed at least two others in less than 30 minutes of walking around my hotel. It may be ancient, but that doesn't keep graffiti artists from adding their own decorations.
Stark contrast with street stalls, shops where merchandize spills out onto the sidewalk, broken sidewalks lined with motor scooters that is modern Athens.

These entries must be short & bitty, since the iPad doesn't allow for rambling reviews of touristic excusions.  More about Stoa of Attalos in next posting:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

No pot of gold at the end of these rainbows —
instead, gold spreads far beyond my neighbors, all the way to town.

This double rainbow came just when I thought I'd never resolve packing chaos into the order demanded by packing limitations. Energy surges and enthusiasm replaces the nagging concern that I might not "git-er done" by May 27th-noon deadline.

For those who know where I live, that bright yellow tree in foreground left is the piñon next to my garage. The closer rainbow seems to end behind the hoophouse, in the goatshed of my neighbor, Brigid Meier. Photographer using iPhone stands on my south portal (or porch for you non-Taoseños).

O Ye of Little Faith! Observe order emerge from packing chaos.

Though some may have been certain it couldn't be done, I am ready to travel for three weeks with one small checked bag, one carry-on and my longtime reliable LeSportsac handbag. Can't you see me breeze through customs, metro & bus stations, able to board the ferry or ascend any staircase with the grace of a lighter-than-usual load.

Yes, that checked bag does contain a unique design of travel clothesline which requires no clothespins and a small bottle of Dr. Bronner's super soap — highly-concentrated and scented with memories of NM lavender.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When chaos overwhelms, take a break with sunset view from westside deck:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pre-pack chaos

Barbara's cousin John Francis "helped" her pack for a cruise to Alaska with packing drinks — from the chaos seen below, I hope that several tilts of white wine will send me to Greece checking only one small rollaboard bag. We'll see!
Starting with chaotic piles — yes, that's four pairs of shoes on the floor!