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Greece

Monemvasia to Nafplio: Cruising the Arkadian Coast

 

As we headed to Nafplio our days were filled with canons and castles, goats and Greek mythology, olive trees and endless ocean views.

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Next Stop Nafplio

Our plan was to head towards Nafplio, which we had heard was one of the prettiest towns in Greece. Nafplio was our next destination, but as usual, there were so many things to see and experiences to be had along the way.

We left Monemvasia late afternoon, after a successful find of the elusive ‘Blueberry and Goji’ tea.  Yes, travelling Europe is fun and full of exciting new adventures, but it can also bring about latent obsessions. Ours happened to be trying as many flavours of tea and dark chocolate as we could.

Perfect find: Palaio Beach

We hadn’t gone far, about ten minutes out of Monemvasia, when we came to an idyllic little spot to park the camper for a day or two, Palaio Beach.

white motorhome parked on the grass beside the ocean with a mountain in the background
Palaio Beach

Chores as Exercise?

The weather was windy but sunny, therefore perfect for drying washing. I had become adept at the old ‘hand washing’ technique. I wash, rinse and then put it through the spin cycle, AKA Lars. Teamwork at its best. Sometimes we use a self-serve launderette, but they are almost impossible to find in Greece, as dry cleaners seem to be the go here. However, doing our own washing saves money and you get a fantastic arm workout.

A white large motorhome parked on the grass beside the ocean with the island of Monemvasia in the background
Palaio Beach with Monemvasia in the background

Winter Road Trip in the Peloponnese

Driving the Peloponnese is relaxing at this time of year, with the throng of tourists waiting for next summer until they again invade this beautiful region of Greece. The Grecian winter sun is a welcoming host all the same.There are many free spots in fabulous locations which makes for an excellent winter road trip in a van.

Sampatiki Harbour

Leaving Palaio, we drove sedately through the mountains to Sampatiki, a pretty harbour town nestled among the hills of the Arkadian coast. After navigating some very narrow roads, we arrived in a car park overlooking the harbour.

For almost an hour, we just watched the comings and goings of this quaint harbour; fishing boats chugging in and out, locals collecting the day’s catch and someone in a wetsuit snorkelling circling about the bay. A great place to relax, have a drink and enjoy the idyllic view with the late afternoon sun streaming into the van.

several fishing boats moored in a harbour with mountains surrounding the harbour
Sambatiki Harbour on the Arkadia Coast

Kids and Koutroufa

On route to Nafplio, we planned to have a look at a 2000-year-old olive tree situated in the village square of Koutroufa. We were however sidetracked on the way by some cute kids. The four-legged type. There seemed to be hundreds of them. We’re suckers for anything slightly resembling ‘cute’ – well I am particularly – so we just had to stop to take some photos. Unfortunately, they were pretty timid and we couldn’t entice any over to the fence.

Baby goats aplenty - more than 50 of all different hues.

Back to the olive tree, though I found this much less impressive than hundreds of baby goats. Its trunk measured about 11 metres in diameter, and for 2000 years old it still looked pretty hardy. Apparently, the village holds an annual festival every July, the ‘Tribute to the Olive Tree’, where villagers share olive dishes and play Greek music.

2000 year old green olive tree in Koutroufa, Greece with blue sky in background
The 2000-year-old olive tree in Koutroufa

Geocache Stop

Another detour on the way was to find a Geocache near the small village of Mylio.

Geocaching is an activity directed from an app that points you to a hidden location in search of a ‘cache’ or container where you can log your details on paper within and do the same online. It’s akin to a treasure hunt! The beauty of this is that locals hide these caches in the most scenic places so you get to see sites you might otherwise pass by. Find out more about Geocaching and read about this particular cache. 

We followed the Geocache coordinates, which led us down an overgrown path beside the River Lerna.

Greek Mythology in Mylio

On our way, we came across ‘Constantinos’, an elderly Greek gentleman who was clearing the overgrown reeds near the river. With excellent English, he started up a conversation and proceeded to tell us about the Greek history of the area, including the story of Hercules and the many-headed snake, Lernaean Hydra, which had its lair in the area. He told us about his favourite philosopher, Plato (of course), and his favourite quotes. Constantino was quite the storyteller, regularly laughing between his ever-increasing divergent stories.

In his younger days, he had been a bartender and travelled through the US, which explained his great penchant for spinning a yarn. He explained that was clearing the river surrounds on his own accord and was upset that they had been left to overgrow. Reluctantly, he let us go on our way, leaving us much wiser in aspects of Greek mythology and the many inventions which originated in Greece.

Greek man stood amongst earth and reeds
Constantinos from Mylio, Greece

We continued along the path toward the sea and a beautiful, magical view greeted us. Where the river met the sea, an old wooden bridge set the scene, with a backdrop of sea mist hovering over the ocean.  It’s these little-unexpected pleasures that make the journey almost more important than the destination.

River Lerna mouth near Mylio, Greece with a small wooden bridge reflected in the river waters the sea is in the background with a sea mist above and hills in the background
Where the River Lerna meets the sea  near the small village of Mylio, Greece

The particular geocache we found, gave us information about a concrete compass in the nearby area. It was apparently built by the Germans and originally had a canon in the middle pointing towards the town of Nafplio across the bay.

WW2 concrete compass near Mylio
The concrete compass made by the Germans, near Mylio, Greece

 

wooden bridge linking both banks of the river with bare trees on the further bank
A beautiful spot on the River Lerna near the village of Mylio, Greece

Nafplio First Impressions

Our first impressions of the town didn’t get off to a great start. Busy traffic and the huge car park wasn’t matching up with our expectations of a small, picturesque town.  An online article in the ‘Telegraph’ stated it was, ‘a serious contender for the most beautiful Greek town’, and numerous other articles had exulted its beauty.

We tried not to judge on first impressions and made our way to the old town, through narrow streets, and onwards to the ruins at the top of the hill. On the way, at the tip of the headland, we came face to face with ‘The Five Brothers’. The ‘brothers’ are five canons that point out towards the bay. From here you get a great view of the Bourtzi Fortress, situated just off the coast on a small rocky islet. This is apparently the most photographed iconic spot of Nafplio.

Perhaps we had raised our expectations too high, but we still weren’t feeling the magnificent splendour that others obviously do in this ancient town.

Palm trees on the short pier with a few fishing boats moored nearby. In the distance the castle on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean in Nafplio Harbour
Nafplio Harbour with the small fortress of Bourtzi on the rocky islet of Agioi Theodoroi.

 

old Cannon pointing out to the ocean through a parapet at Nafplio castle
One of the ‘5 brothers’ at the tip of the headland

As we walked further up the hill we came to the walls of the oldest castle in Nafplio, Acronauplia. The ruins were quite impressive but I was much more taken with the multitude of prickly pear plants growing along the walls. To be fair, we had seen quite a few ruins in Greece, another reason why we weren’t so impressed perhaps.

Nafplio old town with numerous cacti plants along the ancient stone walls
Cacti decorating the walls of the historic Nafplio old town

 

red fruits on a green prickly pear cactus with a bright blue sea in the background on the wallls of the castle in Nafplio
Cacti and complimenting colours – Nafplio

We’re Just Not That Into You

Overall, the old town area was worth a visit, and you may find, as many seem to do, that you fall in love with Nafplio. For us, however, there was no love at first sight, not even a desire for a second date. It’s a, ‘Thank you but we’re just not that into you.’ from us. We did enjoy the journey getting there though and that’s what travel is often all about.

The plan had been to overnight in the ‘prettiest town in the Peloponnese’ but the vast port car park wasn’t exactly enticing. Consequently, we decided to head off to find somewhere a little less busy and more scenic.

Nafplio Pups

While walking to the van, we came across two stray pups. Luckily, we keep some dog food in the van just for these types of occasions! They eagerly followed us back and were keen to tuck into some biscuits and lap up some water. The little black one only had one eye, so it was good that he had a buddy. After a few pats and scratches, they were soon off to continue their wandering.

In a carpark in Nafplio harbour two dogs - one creamy beige colour, one black and white with one eye
Two stray pups at Nafplio Harbour

Hopefully, we’d find a stopover in a much nicer location as we set off towards our next destination, Corinth.

The journey, not the destination matters

– TS Eliot

Good to Know

Camping spot Coordinates mentioned above:

Palaio Beach: N36.728555 E23.026278

Sampatiki:  N37.189344 E22.90933

Nafplio Harbour Carpark: N37.571177 E22.800955

Our previous destination post was Mesmerising Monemvasia and our next post Corinth to Athens 

We’d love to hear what you thought of Nafplio and remember we are happy to answer any questions you may have on travelling the area in a motorhome.

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Michelle

Author: Michelle

After finishing my Law Degree I decided to become a teacher. I am passionate about teaching, learning and most of all, about inspiring others. Now, as a writer and blogger, I love sharing our travels and our musings on life’s journey. I hope, through these, we can play a part in inspiring you to do whatever ‘satisfies your soul’.

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