Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend On The Coast

Saturday Steve, Jenny and I set out for Nafplio, in the Peloponnese region of Greece on the Argolic Gulf. Nafplio is a sea town that was the capitol of Greece from 1829 to 1834 after the Greek War of Independence. Now days, the old town of Nafplio is weekend getaway destination for the Greeks especially for people of Athens who are only 2 hours away by car or bus.

On the way to Nafplio we stopped in the town of Kineta for lunch. Jenny came upon this little village when she was looking for places to rent for her six months working in Athens.

Our server took us to the kitchen where we were to select the fish we wanted for lunch from the fresh catch being stored on ice in this fridge drawer. We choose two barbounia or Greek red mullet (what the French call rouget) and two of another fish that was silver but much the same in shape and size as the barbounia.

Here they are 15 minutes later, grilled and ready to enjoy. We should have only ordered one of each and we still would have had more than enough for the three of us. We were served a bowl of olive oil for drizzling over the fish but we three needed nothing more than a squeeze of the huge, juicy, local lemons to dress our fish.

We also shared a plate of fried calamari. The calamari here is like none I've ever had before in that it actually has a light flavor of the sea. I do not mean to say that it is fishy but it has more taste to it than calamari I've had before in the states or in Europe regardless of whether it has been fresh or frozen.

A plate of fried courgette or zucchini. We also shared a small plate of tzitziki and of course, a Greek salad.

Back on the road to Nafplio and we drove by miles and miles of small orange groves. The drive from the highway to Nafplio was 30 or 40 minutes and the road was lined with orange trees on either side the whole way to town. We were overwhelmed by the sweet aroma of orange blossoms. The perfume of the blossoms was almost intoxicating. Can you imagine a 30 minute drive with the smell of blossoms the whole way? It was heavenly.

Nafplio was a welcome break from the frenetic pace, endless noise and heat of Athens. It was nice that though Nafplio is a destination for both Greeks and travelers from elsewhere in Europe, it was not a horribly crowded tourist town. Touristy? Yes, but not to the point where the town is over populated with holiday visitors and there is plenty of regional flavor to be found over the commercialism. The old town of Nafplio is full of local residents and artisan shops so there is still a distinct local feel to the place.

Jenny and Steve trekked up to the ancient fort over the town. Here are some of the views from the fort and pictures of the hikers.

Looking up to the fort and beyond.

Looking down on Nafplio from the fort.
My beautiful sister and BFF.

My handsome husband and other best friend.

While researching Greece I came across this great travel guide by Matt Barrett-

Also, check out his pictures of the area especially the one of the orange blossoms-

On Sunday we left Nafplio and drove a little further down the coast to Iria to lay at the beach on the gulf. The beaches of Iria are very private and secluded, enough so that I could take in the sun au naturale as I prefer over wearing a bathing suit. The temperature was low 80's and the warm sun with the cool breeze from the sea and the privacy of our little piece of beach were absolute nirvana. The ruins are amazing to see the culture is so rich, the people are incredibly warm and gracious but yes, my bliss is lying naked on a beach in the warm sun with a cool breeze gracing every nook and cranny.

I am trying to talk Steve into staying another day in Greece so we can go back to our little eden in Iria for another afternoon of sun and sea.

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