#8 Italy/Greece, (final) Nov. 2, 2010

Dear Everybody,

My friend, Sally, picked me up in Nafplio and we drove to her house in Lefkakia to join four other guests. We all went to see the important ruins at Mycene, which were inhabited from 6000 BC (Neolithic) but were at their height from 1600 to 1200 BC. The monument over the gate is the oldest carved monumental relief in Europe (1250 BC), which shows two female lions with paws on an altar. The amateur archeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, first discovered and excavated this site (also Troy), much to the consternation of the professionals. One of his finds was a gold death mask of Agamemnon from 1250 BC but this turned out to be the mask of an unknown king who died 300 years earlier, in 1550 BC!

The next day the four other guests set off for Monemvasia and Sally and I visited Nafplio to see the Komboloi (Worry-bead) Museum. Apparently in addition to Muslims and Christians (it became the Rosary, brought home from the Crusades in the 1200s) earlier Hindus and Buddhists and later Greeks used worry beads for their meditation. This museum made the point that in order to be ‘authentic.’ the beads must be made of amber, mastic, faturan, coral, ivory, bone, horn or ebony—a material that once had life—NEVER metal or stone! The komboloi in the museum dated from 1700 to 1958.

Lunch was in Tolos, at an outdoor cafe overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean, counting the islands, boats, and swimmers in view, eating Greek salad, moussaka, and drinking a Mythos beer—ah, heaven! One day I did a little cooking—I couldn’t resist in this nice kitchen. Our dinner was a plump, juicy, roasted chicken and veggies.  In the mornings I squeezed orange juice from oranges just off the trees!

Thursday was ‘No-Day,’ a celebration in Nafplio of the time when the Greeks said “NO” to the invading Italians early in WWII and beat them back; however, the Germans invaded soon after and Greece was occupied.

 

 

 

 

There was a parade with all the schoolchildren marching to the cadence and music of the uniformed town band.

 

 

 

 

Later Sally drove us up, up to the Palamidi Fortress that overlooks Nafplio, built by the Venetians in the early 1700s. It was huge, windy, high and quite beautiful. Then lunch at Mezedopoleio O Naulis Restaurant included flaming cheese! Opa! On Friday, two of the guests left for Athens.

The Lefkakia house has a friendly owl that can be heard (but not seen) at night although Sally has seen him in former years. What a thrill—at dusk one night we heard it, rushed out onto the deck and saw (and photographed) it sitting on a wire. What a beautiful small brown and white owl! It was probably celebrating catching its dinner!

Saturday the two remaining guests left and Sally organized the house for the winter. On Sunday morning Sally drove us to the Athens airport where she caught a flight home and I took the metro downtown to a hostel for overnight. Yum, yum, another good meal of aubergine and cheese croquettes plus good white wine. I bought some souvenirs, and had a look at one last museum, which displayed beautiful clothes from many parts of Greece from the 19th century. It also had a wonderful collection of the work of a self-taught naif artist, Theophilos Chatzimichail, 1860-1934—always another treasure in Greece, just around the corner! I left the next morning for Rome and then home. When I flew into Rome, it was in a bad rainstorm, and the pilot really hit the runway hard, coming in fast, but we landed safely.

 

 

 

I expected Greece to be an interesting country to visit but it surpassed my expectations. There is so much to see that is SO OLD and interesting, historically, plus the scenery is gorgeous and the food is excellent. And I had the extra bonus of staying with Sally and her friends at her beautiful vacation home. It really was a fun trip!

Roger and out—-

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