04.02.2013 - 04.02.2013 14 °C
Abby and I awoke this morning to fresh treats from the local bakery. Mom and Dad had bought a variety of Greek goodies for us to sample. Opinions varied. The rather tasteless cookie-like rings covered in what seemed to be birdseed weren't very popular, while the chocolate coated ones were more of a hit. The shopkeeper had even been kind enough to throw in a few for free, and they were still warm when we bit into them. They tasted of anise and ginger, and were Abby's and my favourite. Most of them were just lightly sweet, which made them more acceptable as breakfast items, at least in our minds. In the end, we finished most of the box.
We had planned to go to Epidaurus and check out some of the ancient ruins. On our way there, we ran into a flock of sheep being herded down the hillside. It wasn't a sight you see every day, so we pulled over and watched the procession. We also saw a number of small shrines along the road, shaped like miniature churches and generally wreathed or surrounded by flowers. (If you want to see the goats we ran into on the way back, click here.)
The first place we went to was the museum regarding the Epidaurus site and Askeplios, a doctor from all those years ago. It was small, and most of the statues and ruins inside were aided by plaster or simply replicas. The medical instruments were interesting, though. We winced as we imagined what they might've been used for. Mom was the most creative, while I concluded that they were probably all used for bloodletting at one time or another.
The amphitheatre was amazing. It's the most famous one in Greece, and for a good reason. When you think of Greek ruins, you generally picture a bunch of stones laying on the ground, perhaps in a way that suggests a floor plan. The theatre, however, is in such good shape that it is still used today. We had a bit of fun talking to each other using the echoes, with one person at the top and another below. Mom and Dad let their "young at heart" sides show, singing and performing for the 14 000 (make that 13 998) empty seats before them. Whether standing in the middle of the stage or on the topmost seats, it's a spectacular place to see.
After the theatre, we went to visit the ruins of the hospital that Askelpios ran. These were more typical Greek ruins, but still made you think of how profoundly old they were, and what could've gone on in between them. There were some major restorative efforts being made to the site, and I think it would be interesting to return and see what it might have looked like.
Heading back to our car, we were approached by a German hitchhiker named Nicki. He seemed nice enough, and asked us if we were going to Nafplio. Though we weren't going back yet, we drove him as far as the highway, and had a brief chat with him along the way. He owned nothing but his backpack, and was using a site called couchsurfing.org to book his lodgings free of charge. He had travelled all over Poland for a year, and was spending another year in Greece. When asked which countries were on his list, he laughed and said, "All of them?" Perhaps not at the rate he was going, but it seemed a worthy goal.
We got a little bit turned around after dropping him off, and ended up driving towards Ancient Epidaurus, a small beachfront town, by accident. It seems that each Greek city has an older counterpart that it was built around. Along the way, we came across a bakery, and popped inside with hopes of finding something for lunch. It turned out to be mostly full of breads and pastries, but that didn't deter us, and we left laden down with cookies and baklava.
Ancient Epidaurus was almost completely empty, with the exception of the numerous stray dogs and cats we found lazing about. One of the dogs decided to befriend us, and took to following us as we explored the town, much to Abby's displeasure. It even waited outside the restaurant we went to for lunch. Taking a break from our usual gyros, we ordered a variety platter so as to try as many different Greek foods as possible. We were presented with an assortment of hors d'oeuvres, including phyllo stuffed with herbed cheese, meatballs that tasted similar to falafel, and vinegary rice wrapped in grape leaves. We enjoyed nearly all of them, and got a plate of calamari as well, which was less breaded and much tastier than the Western version. Abby got her own little plate of phyllo "cheese pies" instead, and avoided the calamari completely. In my opinion, she doesn't know what she's missing. After lunch, we took a stroll by the water, our faithful companion tailing us all the way.
Back at home, we all went to our separate corners and took a break from each other. In the end, no one felt like making and eating a real dinner, so we watched an episode of our favourite Downton Abbey and sampled the cakey, custardy variety of baklava we'd purchased. It was okay, though a little bit texturally off-putting, as the cake between the phyllo was wet and mushy. Perhaps the "normal" baklava will be tastier. Mom loved it, at least.
Tomorrow will be our last day in Nafplio. I'm excited for Athens, but I really like it here, and it's going to be tough to say goodbye. I can't believe we're almost three months into our nine month epic of a trip.