It is the autumn mid-term break and I am off-island. I am feeling a bit of culture shock. There are so many people here on the mainland. So many cars…
I arrived here on Sunday, the day before ‘Ohi Day’. It was also the weekend of Agios Dimitrios, a saint of some popularity here in Greece. Everyone with a connection to the saint for their name day celebrates. It was a long weekend. Weekenders from Athens and Corinth mobbed the narrow streets. I had left the quiet calm of Paros and landed here. I felt like hiding. My meal that night was good: Gigantes, fried zucchini, lamb chops and the waiter tried to stiff me 10 Euros until I confronted him. He was so very apologetic. Kleftis!
Ohi Day was a grand affair and just before the big parade, I decided to not stick around. I took a long walk around the massif on which the Palamidi Fortress sits and then on my way back climbed the 900+ stairs to the top of this Venetian citadel. The view was lovely, but the tourists were there too. There was an American school group, and I observed how they behaved in a foreign country. Like bumpkins, I tell you, bumpkins. The Aegean Center students would never act as they did. I left the castle and went back to the town, searched out a car rental agency and rented a car for the next day (today). I ate a wonderful meal at a small taverna off the main drag and had some of the best skordalia (garlic paste) I have ever had. Superb gavros, too. No billing issues last night. I might go back there tonight.
Today I drove my little silver Hyundai north to the Mycenean ruins at Mykine. This is the spot where Heinrich Schliemann found all of the gold and proclaimed (incorrectly), “I have seen the face of Agamemnon!” Still, an impressive site and worth the trip. When I left I headed to Nemea and marveled at the ruins of the Temple of the Nemean Zeus. This was one of the centers for the Panhellenic games beginning in the 5th century BCE. Superb.
The clock was edging into the mid afternoon and I decided to call it quits for the day. I headed back to Nafplio. 15 minutes later found me at the ruins of the Temple of Argive Hera, an enormous jumble of stone and column sections of what must have been an imposing structure overlooking the wide valley. Like Mykine, the sea was visible and I imagined in its heyday it gleamed atop the hill from which I viewed the olive groves and vineyards stretching out before me.
I arrived back in Nafplio, parked my car and took a well-deserved siesta in my hotel room. Tomorrow is another big day. I will head a bit farther north and see the imposing Akro Korinthos fortress and Ancient Corinth. Thursday I return to Epidaurus after over 7 years.
The town has quieted somewhat, but the cafes still hum. I am still in Greece, but away from the island, Paroikia and the Aegean Center. This is good. I need time to let go, reflect and otherwise contemplate my place in the Universe and what that means. These imposing structures, their tons of crumbled stone and absent civilizations are a humble reminder of my abilities.
RIP Lou. Your dark candle burned so brightly.