Day 4 - Athens-Corinth-Mycenae-Nafplio. A fortress with a longer history than many countries.

Leaving Athens

It’s Sunday morning! I sincerely hope the traffic is low. Well, not exactly, Athens is Athens. We get out of the city on a series of wide boulevards, tunnels, ascents and descents and finally find ourselves on the highway to Corinth. Wow, the wind is spectacular!! With the small unstable Tiny (this how I named the miniature Fiat Panda which I rented for this trip), the journey is extremely annoying. there is no shortage of cars flying on the highway and no less a number of trucks.

If you rely on observation of the other drivers in order to presume your speed allowance in Greece – be prepared to be fined! No one complies with the restrictions, and there are signs for stationary cameras and restrictions EVERYWHERE! In general – on the highway the restrictions are 100 km/h and 120 km/h, and on the regular intercity roads  – 70 km/h. Nobody drives within these limits. It reminds me a lot of Southern Italy. I try to drive with a speed averaged between the official speed limits and the speed of the local drivers. Anyway, I can’t maintain much more than 100 km/h in such windy conditions and with this unstable car. But every distance over 100 km becomes a journey lasting several hours. Never mind, I will enjoy the scenery.

We stop in Corinth, hoping that there is something noteworthy here and also to take a break from the nervous windy driving on the highway. Corinth turns out to be a small, modern city, with terrible heat, definitely NOT touristy. The only thing that deserves to pick up a photo device, and definitely the phone, (I don’t bother with the camera at all) is the port and the statue of the horse Pegasus. The Acrocorinth fortification is nearby, so we bet all-in on this landmark and after a quick lunch, say farewell and leave.

Acrocorinth

Acrocorinth is a rocky fortress about 11 km from the modern city of Corinth, and at its foot are the remains of the ancient city of Corinth. It is terribly hot, we do not have the strength for both landmarks, so after a short hesitation I choose the rock with the fortress.

The road is quite well maintained and despite my initial worries and Tiny is doing well uphill. After many curves and about 4 km climb, we reach the end of the tarmac, where there is a tavern, looking more like a decaying Mexican hacienda, than anything else, a makeshift gravel parking lot with several cars and the entrance to the fortress.

The story of Acrocorinth is very interesting.

  • The first evidence of fortification is from the VII-VI century BC.
  • 338 BC it was conquered by the Macedonians, later expelled by the Achaeans of Aratos
  • After the fortification was destroyed by Lucius Mumius in 146 BC, Julius Caesar rebuilt it in 44 BC.
  • Then followed building and strengthening the walls by the Byzantines over the next few centuries.
  • In 1210 the castle was conquered by the Franks
  • In 1395, Theodore Palaeologus conquered it, but later sold it for financial reasons to the Hospitallers of Rhodes. In 1404 the Palaeologus conquered it again.
  • In 1458 it was captured by Sultan Mehmed II
  • In 1687 it was conquered by the Venetians
  • In 1715 it was conquered again by the Turks
  • In 1823 it passed into Greek hands

Of course, the working hours in typical Greek style are until 15:30, and at the moment it is 14:45. We have exactly half an hour to see the fortress, because it is necessary to provide time for descent, so that at 15:30 the gates to close behind our backs. The heats is terrible, there is no shadow, the climb is almost straight up. Well, it was built with the idea of being an impregnable fortress.

It is clear that I will not be able to climb to the highest point, but at least I want to take a look at the Gulf of Corinth. I climb up, I have no water in me, and the clock is pressing on. I still manage to snap some panoramas.

At 15:15 p.m., a fire siren begins to roar. Nothing is left to chance, it’s not like they don’t warn us they’re closing. I rush down, which is not very easy, because the paths are gravel screes. I can only imagine how the medieval infantry in heavy equipment tried to win every inch up, strewn with rain of arrows, stones and whatever else the defenders of the fortress used. It was not easy at all to win this fortress!

Again, there are undisciplined tourists – I see the silhouettes of several people on the highest fortification at 15:20. It is impossible for them to get out on time! This time it turns out that the hooligans are Italians. We have salvaged the good image of Eastern Europe. At 15:25 we are outside the fortress. A middle-aged couple has just parked and is running up to the gate. I kindly inform them that they are already closing, but they decide to try their luck.

Already in the car I decide to try a new flight with the drone. According to the application of Greek aviation, this should be allowed here. Alas, I get errors for “magnetic interference” and I can’t take off. I get such mistakes during the whole trip in the following days. I’m starting to think that the Greeks use active jamming of the frequencies at which most drones operate, but these are just my paranoid assumptions. However, I manage to fly at two of the other places I visit.Later in Bulgaria it turned out that I had a problem with the RC cable and that’s why I couldn’t take off…)

On the way down from the fortress we see 2 firefighting hydroplanes pouring foam over a forest fire in the distance. Maybe the signal jamming is because of them, who knows ?? !!

 

Skipping Mycaena

We go out again on the main road and continue to Nafplio. Mycenae is on the way, so we make another small detour. The village of modern Mycenae is a village, but of course the proximity to the ruins is a reason to have a campsite, several hotels, taverns, souvenir shops. Arriving at the site of the ancient city, I am very hesitant whether I feel like touring it. I look at the frowning rocky surrounding peaks, I judge the hill that I have to climb under the scorching sun to see the not so well-preserved ruins and the famous Lion’s Gate, and I decide that I have enough of ancient history for today. However, my idea for this trip is to be dedicated to the less popular places of the Peloponnese (and with this decision we miss the ruins of Sparta, Olympia, Epidaurus and Delphi in the next few days, but I see Mystras, Monemvasia, Vatia).
Again I try to take off with the drone, at least to compensate with photos of the ruins above, but alas, again without success.

Nafplio

We continue to Nafplio, which turns out to be an extremely beautiful port town with its own spirit, with a taste of Italy, beautiful buildings, beautiful small streets, three city fortresses, surrounded by azure boutique beaches and preferred by many foreigners and Greeks as a vacation spot. As the receptionist in Athens said, “Is this your first time going to Nafplio? You are really gonna like it.”

We hastily drop our luggage at the hotel Victoria, which has a terrace (albeit miniature), with a beautiful view of the port and one of the fortresses, which is located on a small island inside the sea. We decide to try some of the beaches close to the city, because it is still only 16:00. Following the advice of the reception we go to Karatonas, which turns out to be dirtier and more crowded than what we imagine as an ideal beach in the Southern Greece. We poke the umbrella in the sand, stay for 10 minutes and leave disappointed.

We will give a second chance to the next beach on the coast – Tolo. Its northeastern part is small, sheltered and rocky and the looks very attractive from the road above, but we continue a little further down to the wider sandy beach, which turns out to be quite OK. The water is clean, not super crowded, and the setting sun beautifies the atmosphere. It is somewhat similar to Kalamitsi beach in Halkidiki, with the forested hills opposing the beach and the calm bay.

We stay almost until dark, then we head back to Nafplio. An unpleasant surprise awaits us with the parking. The public car park above the hotel, to which we were directed from the reception, is totally full! The same is true of the central parking at the port. We drive a little further from the hotel and it becomes clear that in the northern part of the marina there is a huge parking lot with enough space. I relax and park Tiny next to other whites (and not only) tiny rentals. The hotel is no more than a 10-minute walk away, so everything is fine. Most of the guests of the city have already gone out to dine, and in the streets and in the taverns there is a serious excitement. There are several rather expensive yachts in the marina and their guests (probably) walk around the marina in evening dresses and discuss something in Russian. In Athens, I was also impressed that there are a lot of Russian women in (relatively) formal evening wear, who are actively cruising the main streets.

I leave the photo equipment in the hotel and we go to eat in a very nice tavern Palia, about 30-40 m from our hotel, where once again during this trip I hear the question: “Are you Italian?” I don’t know whether to take it as a compliment or an insult. Are we as noisy as the Italians or what?? Yes, indeed most foreigners in the Peloponnese are either Italians or French, there are not many Bulgarians here.

For the first time since I have been visiting Greece (for over 15 years) I have been served THREE octopus tentacles in one portion! Of course I will mention the name of the tavern in the travelogue! 

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