Nafplio

Today we are in Pelo­pon­nesian Naf­plio — Venet­ian built — and for­mer­ly the cap­i­tal of Greece. From here, the plan is to make day trips into Epi­dau­ros to vis­it the heal­ing Tem­ple of Ascle­pius and the leg­endary the­atre along­side her, and to Myce­nae, to vis­it the ancient seat of Greek civ­i­liza­tion. But things are not work­ing exact­ly to plan. The weath­er has changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly, with a chill wind blow­ing red dust (from Ara­bia, no less), trans­form­ing this most exquis­ite of cities into a sin­is­ter twi­light world of wind, haze and dust. To make mat­ter worse, we have checked into the por­ten­tous­ly named “Hotel E_______”, staffed by an elder­ly cou­ple I sus­pect­ed imme­di­ate­ly to be can­ni­bals. In a cost cut­ting ven­ture, there was not a light on in the entire hotel, and despite being the only guests in a 50-plus room build­ing, we were giv­en strict orders about where we could and couldn’t go. As a side note, and to con­tin­ue my new­found pas­time of cat­a­logu­ing the bath­rooms of Europe, “E_______” was about as well endowed with fac­ul­ties as a Sovi­et psy­chi­atric facil­i­ty. One had to spend fif­teen min­utes man­u­al­ly pump­ing water into the toi­let before it would actu­al­ly flush. Which, giv­en the deli­cious figs on offer, was bound to be an issue, in the end.

Well, we made it to Epi­dau­ros all right, and despite a three hour wait for a phan­tom bus ride, had a splen­did time. The next morn­ing was even gusti­er, and we even con­sid­ered throw­ing in our plans to vis­it Myce­nae. Any­thing to get out of this. But the Ara­bi­an winds had weaved a strange mag­ic, and our res­o­lu­tion to make for the ruins, what­ev­er the weath­er, was soon val­i­dat­ed by what can only be called an omen. So sur­re­al was this moment that Jess and I argued for hours whether our wind addled minds had sim­ply con­jured an illu­sion. As we marched irri­ta­bly towards the bus stand, our wits at an end, we found run­ning along­side us on the road, of all things, a pea­cock. A more per­fect spec­i­men of its breed have I nev­er seen, appear­ing as if by mag­ic, or car­ried by storm from Ara­bia. And I kid you not when I write that, as soon as Jess began scram­bling for her cam­era, the thing dis­ap­peared. For five min­utes we stopped and looked for it, but could not find a feath­er. Suf­fice to say, we there­after smiled despite the winds, and spent a mar­vel­lous day wan­der­ing the ruins of Myce­nae, after which the sun re-emerged and the dust cleared, grant­i­ng us one per­fect night beside the waters of Naf­plio.

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