August 5: Woke up early (by our standards, not by Greek standards) so that we could pack up and get ready to drive north. We’d decided to spend a night up in Nafplio, a port city midway between the farm and Athens, so I wouldn’t have so much driving to do on Tuesday. This was Prescott’s last day in Greece (sad!).
From a driving perspective, it was nice to be back on big roads that don’t switch and wind everywhere (though these roads aren’t anywhere near as scenic as what we’ve grown used to). We arrived in Nafplio with only one wrong turn — it felt like it took us longer to find our hotel in these narrow streets than it did to find the city.
The Venetians spent a lot of time in Nafplio, and I’m not sure how the Greeks felt about being occupied (especially since most of Greece seemed to be occupied by someone most of the time), but the town certainly benefited architecturally. Nafpliio is a lovely small city; it feels very typically European, with restaurants lining the port and balconies spilling over with bougainvillea. Our hotel (the Hotel Ippoliti — thanks to Rick Steves for this idea) is elegant. We have an “attic” room with a sleigh bed, wonderful old wooden furniture, and a tiny balcony that looks out over the sea and one of Nafplio’s three fortresses:
We had lunch at one of the portside restaurants, O Sabouras (thanks to Matt Barrett’s travel guide for the recommendation!). Lunch was pricier than what we’ve grown used to — our Greek salad cost more than our entire dinner of the night before. But the fried koutsomoures (little red mullets) were outstanding (and they gave Prescott a chance to make his favorite mullet joke: business in the front, party in the back).
The hotel gave us the chance to lounge around a little and enjoy the AC. We also watched more Olympics (sadly, I could miss all of Greece just doing this). Three notes about the Olympics on Greek TV: (1) they show lots of sports that we’re not used to seeing on broadcast TV in the US, like synchronized swimming and handball and equestrian; (2) they often jump from sport to sport without warning, sometimes right in the middle of someone’s routine; they show lots of sailing. Lots and lots of sailing.
Our evening’s adventure was a trip to Epidavros, the best-preserved ancient theater in Greece. It’s known for its great acoustics, and with good reason — it’s really something to sit in the very top, 55 rows up, and be able to hear someone tearing a piece of paper on the stage.
Prescott and I spent quite a while here, and then we noticed that people seemed to be setting up for a show. We’d looked earlier for performances on line and hadn’t found anything — but when we asked, we learned that they were putting on Moliere’s Amphitryon at 9:00. We ran to get tickets!
Dinner at a taverna near the theater was ok (the veggie omelette was really good, dripping with oil and fried potatoes; the salad and saginaki were mediocre). But that’s fine — the point was to get back to the theater in time to get a good seat among the many well-dressed Athenians. We had to work to overcome the feeling of being under-dressed…
The performance was quite an experience. First of all, the performance was really creative — each of the actors also played a role in a mini-chorus that seemed to combined comedia dell’arte and absurdist theater. The set was minimalist, yet interesting. The costumes were green; the noises were clicking and cawing and accordion-playing. And it was all in Greek! So we had a tiny idea of what was going on — we’d quickly read the myth of Amphitryon on line before the show — but we really couldn’t follow much. Still, to sit on seats that were occupied by Greeks over two thousand years ago, to look up at the same stars they might’ve seen, made for a fascinating experience.