Napflio, Greece: Living Inside a Fairy Tale
The medevil town of Napflio has all the makings of a fairy tale: castles, legends, myths, secrets, and a dark history that includes betrayals, murders, and outright slaughter. My mom once said that everything that grows in this region has been watered with blood. She isn't wrong. Nafplio and the surrounding regions were the heart of the Greek revolution against the Ottoman empire. Thousands of years before that, ancient civilizations prospered, battled, and died in the dynamic terrain that includes port towns, mountain villages, canyons, and foothills.. Well after that there was the Byzantine Empire, whose remnants are found throughout all of Greece. There were the world wars, the second of which especially, left deep scars in the country. There are memorials attributed to the bravery and murder of men, women and children who resisted fascism and tyranny all over this country.
This was followed by Greece's civil war, which to this day continues to impact the Greek political sphere. There are historically relevant sites from all these points of history in the hills and mountains of Napflio and the Argolida region. With regards to mythology, right across the gulf from Nafplio is the town of Mylous, where Hercules battled and killed the Hydra monster.
While I'll be the first to say that the site is a little underwhelming, and that the old sign that tells the history is very easy to miss, it's still pretty incredible to know that this is the place the myth came from...to be riding through mythology itself, in ancient lands. I say the same thing when I'm riding around Nafplio and I look up at old fortresses and castles that are in such good condition, one should hesitate to call them "ruins."
And while there are plenty of ruins as well, they are prominent enough to stand out and impact you visually.
Life in Nafplio is simple for the most part. It does in fact feel like living in a fairy tale because it's a waterfront town with two castles overlooking the city, a fortress in the harbor, and sections of the original castle wall and gate that still stand. There's a side that overlooks the gulf entrance with five distinct cannons (knowns as the five brothers), and every time I stand there I imagine what it must have been like to be there during battle...to see the invading ships coming in, firing at you while you struggled to load cannonballs into these massive instruments, the noise they must have made when the gunpower fired off, the smell of smoke in the air and iron from heated metal and spilt blood. It's insane to think about.
In these modern times, in towns like this, everything you really need is within walking distance. Things are a bit smaller...we have grocers and butchers (instead of giant supermarkets), craft stores with handmade, top quality jewelry, ceramics, soaps, and various art.
We have actual bookshops and photography stores (Nafplio has become quite the destination wedding spot). We have an abundance of incredible restaurants, which is a welcome defense to the argument that touristy towns are full of tourist traps. The food here continues to impress me, both from a perspective of freshness and taste, but also from restaurants that are pushing forward thinking cuisine with modern takes on classic recipes.
While I could go on and on about Nafplio, this is supposed to be focusing on the riding, so a few more photos from the town itself, all taken from areas you can easily walk to, followed by some of the beaches because on R&R days, they're a go to almost ten months out of the year.
On to the riding...which would make more sense to have a separate link for. Just pick the photo that shows something you're interesting in riding and it will take you to the write up of that place.