Archive for the ‘Greek History’ Category

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Navplion – A City To Visit In Summer Or Winter

November 11, 2013

Fortress-Navplion-GreeceNavplion – A City To Visit in Summer Or Winter

My first glimpse of Navplion was from our chartered yacht as we rounded the headland during a glorious evening sail in July 2012.  As we approached we could see the magnificent fort on our port side, which the Greeks once used to guard the entrance to the harbour.

Our berth (one of the last available against the harbour wall) was to be between our lead boat and a vast high-sided catamaran with a rather anxious gentleman on board who began pacing up and down even more quickly when he saw a female at the helm.  Once safely ensconced for the night, we couldn’t wait to explore this city which had seen so much history.

Navplion History

Bouboulina

Greek Naval Admiral

Navplion was the capital of Greece before Athens (1821-1834) and sits at the head of the Argolic Gulf in the Peloponnese.  It is here where the fearless sea captain Laskarina Bouboulina and her fleet of eight ships sailed to and took part in the siege of the fortress which she eventually captured.  Bouboulina was born on the island of Hydra, moved to Spetses following her marriages to two sea captains who left her wealthy enough after their deaths to buy several ships and form her own fleet.  Very sadly, Bouboulina was shot on 22nd May 1825,  in a family dispute. Bouboulina was one of the first women to play a major revolutionary role and without her and her ships, the Greeks may well not have gained their independence.

Within walking distance of the (industrial) harbour wall is the most amazing ice-cream shop … further on a plethora of side streets lead you away from the main road to the pedestrianized area and grand main square which is adorned with the most attractive Venetian-style houses, restaurants, bars, shops and tavernas.  There is so much to do in Navplion, you would be hard-pressed to get round it all in a day, well, that is if you take in refreshments, food and shopping like we did!

During the hot summer months, pretty much all the restaurants feature those welcoming ice-fans to cool you down while you sip your vodka-martini and watch the action – always lots going on in the way of outdoor entertainment.

Easily accessible from Navplion is Mycenae

Mycenae

Entrance to the underground water source at Mycenae

What a spectacular coastal view from the home which used to belong to the King of Sparta, Agamemnon.  There is an almost eerie silence which surrounds the ruins now and the highlight for me were to treat the well-worn steps from ground level, leading underground to an extensive plumbing system which provided Mycenae with fresh drinking water.

History: The site of Mycenae was first excavated in 1874 by Heinrich Schliemann, the German amateur archaeologist who had also discovered the ruins of Troy.  A magnificent palace used to reside on this hillside, which was surrounded by great walls.  The city was crowned with an acropolis even before the Mycenaean civilization, and the location of the site was of huge strategic importance.  The ancient city boasted houses, bakeries, workshops, and even a granary. Several of the tombs in Mycenae have been named after the family of Atreus. There is Agamemnon’s tomb, the tomb of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus’ tomb.
Mycenae was almost completely destroyed by a fire in the 12th century. The Mycenaean civilization declined, but the area was still inhabited. It is believed it was abandoned in the 3rd century AD.

The findings from Mycenae can be viewed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, but all over Greece there are also smaller museums that hold Mycenaean objects.

Summary:

Navplion is a joy to visit.  From a sailor’s perspective, no showers immediately available on the quayside but lots of small hotels if you are desperate in the winter.  You can eat with the locals at a typical taverna offering local dishes in one of the back streets or dine out in your finery at one of the high class (and more expensive) restaurants that Navplion has to offer.  The buildings are amazing with a strong Italian influence and there is lots going on.

Return soon to read more about Greece, her islands and all she has to offer.

 

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The Greek House Features Kefalonia & Halkidiki

October 14, 2012

We are featuring some new properties on our website which deserve a mention due to their wonderfully unspoilt locations:

Southern Kefalonia

The southern coastline of Kefalonia boasts a string of safe sandy beaches, gorgeous views across the deep blue Ionian sea to the island of Zakynthos, and the fabulous backdrop of Mount Aenos (at 1628m the highest peak in the Ionian). There are no big hotels or large resorts here.

Kefalonia Villa With Pool

Spartia is an authentically sleepy whitewashed village perched on the hillside above the sea with a fishing jetty safe enough for children to play in the gently sloping shallows either side. Although only 15 km from Argostoli, and 10km from the airport and resort of Lassi, Spartia has remained traditional and the lush countryside makes you feel like you are very much off the beaten track. It has a  taverna and two mini-markets.

Lourdas, halfway along the south coast, has a long white sandy beach which stretches for around a kilometre and shelves gently into the bluest of seas. Sunbeds are available to hire, and there are around six tavernas to choose from as well as a mini-market.

The original village of Lourdata has a beautiful and traditional plane-tree-shaded square, three tavernas and a couple of small shops.

For much of the year Lourdas is very quiet. However, it is popular with locals and can be busy during weekends and in the high season.

HALKIDIKI

ATHOS is the third and most easterly of the three ‘legs’ of the Halkidiki. peninsula, and the closest airport is Thessaloniki.  Athos is also the least developed and this has to be one of its most attractive features.
The majority of Athos cannot be visited without a special permit as the ‘Agion Oros’ or ‘Holy Mountain’ has been run as a self-governing monastic state for more than 1,000 years and is dominated by the majestic 2,000m conical peak of Mount Athos.
The Athos peninsula extends for about 60km to the south and its surrounding seas are notorious for strong currents. Although linked to the land, Mt Athos is accessible only by boat and all non-religious support workers live in the central village of Karyes.
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Religious rules are strictly enforced on Agion Oros and women are not allowed to set foot on the Holy Mountain.
The majority of tourists are restricted to viewing the monasteries with binoculars from on board boats offering trips around the peninsula.
The only places to sleep in Agion Oros are the monasteries, which offer spartan dormitory-style accommodation. Most, but not all, require advance reservations.
No payment is expected for stays of one night in a monastery but donations are usually accepted, especially for longer stays.
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This year Greek Islands are even more appealing

August 12, 2010

Looking out of my window at the rain on a decidely cold August day, I am glad I went to Crete this summer – despite a couple of days when the petrol stations were closed.   The lack of other tourists made this July a very special time to be in Greece – we even had the beach to ourselves one lunchtime and always managed to sit at the best tables next to the shimmering water in our favourite tavernas.

One of special note is Ergospasio in Elounda.  Co-owners Kostas and Dimitris have done a marvellous job converting the old Carob Factory.  A three-storey stone structure set at the water’s edge features some very beautiful touches; pashminas for the ladies when the wind gets up in the evening, their own Ergospasio label wine, and this year’s addition, a gorgeous and talented singer and guitarist singing in Greek and English.  There is even a little washing line (complete with pegs) where the boys hang their baby squid to dry as soon as it reaches dry land!

Waterside_Table_ErgospasioCrete will always hold a special place in my heart but this year more than any other I felt so fortunate to be able to enjoy all it has to offer with so few people around.

The locals had time for a chat to catch up, even the usually bustling fishing town of Aghios Nikolaos had an almost serene atmosphere as we enjoyed our last morning’s breakfast next to the harbour.  I’m pleased to report that the sea is still as crystal clear as ever it was (and the waiters as chirpy).

So if you haven’t been away and are looking for a relaxing break before the kids go back to school, I would thoroughly recommend this island, reputedly the birthplace of Zeus.

If the beach is not for you there are so many other places to see on Crete, centre of the Minoan civilisation and steeped in so much history.  My favourites are the archealogical site at Knossos (where the first flushing toilet was invented), Vai Beach (the palm tree beach where the original Bounty ad was filmed), The Samaria Gorge (simply breath-taking scenery).  You can even take an excursion to stunning  Santorini to experience the most amazing sunset I have ever seen,  not forgetting of course the pretty little island of Spinalonga, which was a leper colony up until the late 1950’s and whose history inspired Victoria Hislop to write “the Island.”

boat in Elounda Bayclick for The Greek House video

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