Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mycenae becomes eclectic

When we got to the small town of Kosta on the Peloponnese, we weren’t sure what was next, but managed to ascertain that the bus waiting at the ferry port was going in roughly the right direction and hopped on. It was a gorgeous ride inland through the southeastern corner of the Peloponnese, right through the mountainous region of Arcadia, which lives up to its name in every respect: glorious soaring peaks, hillsides layered with olive and lemon groves, millions of tiny yellow daisies peeking out under crevices in the rock, windmills, goats and sheep grazing in the orchards and occasionally impeding the progress of the bus.

After a brief stop in Epidaurus, we reached our destination, the port city and original capital of modern Greece, Nafplio. We got our bearings and mounted our assault up the steep hill towards the city’s Akronafplia fortress and the sprawling pension where we would spend the next couple of nights. The climb with our luggage was rough, but upon arrival, we were rewarded with homemade lemonade and an incredible view of the port, city and fortress.

During dinner at a small taverna, where we sampled a local specialty of pork and peppers called kolokotroneiko, the power went out throughout the entire city. The kitchen staff was unfazed and continued their cooking by the lights of some candles tossed casually into a large glass. We finished our wine, settled our bill and made our way through the darkened streets along the waterfront, where tables were being lit up with candles and people chatted excitedly in the flickering light. At an outdoor café on the Platia Syndagmatos, we tried some tea made with sage leaves and the largest piece of baklava this side of Macedonia.

After breakfast on our hilltop terrace, we caught a bus past Argos to Mycenae, the place of the famous ruins linked to the legendary rule of the House of Atreus and the tragic dynastic struggles of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Orestes and Electra. First unearthed by the arch-romantic German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who was convinced that the Homeric epics and the tragedies of Aeschylus had a basis in fact, it is a stunningly evocative place, easy to imagine as the setting for the Greek epics performed many centuries later in the Theater of Dionysus on the Athenian Acropolis. We played amateur archeologists in the beehive Tomb of Clytemnestra, and posed as invading generals under the Lions Gate guarding the magnificent ramp up to the royal palace where the unfortunate Agamemnon was murdered in his bath upon his glorious return from Troy.

A postscript:
Apparently, the electrical supply in Nafplio is somewhat undependable, as we spent our second night in the city sipping wine in the dark again: a romantic adventure!

More pictures of our exciting adventures are available here:

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