The last part of our journey has brought us to beautiful Greece. After touring the historic sights of Athens, we left the hustle and bustle of the city for the seaport town of Nafplio. Most of the old town is on a peninsula jutting into the gulf. The picturesque peninsula is full of cobblestone streets, multi-colored buildings, and homes that expand up to the hillsides. It was in Nafplio that our trip members got their first opportunity to swim in the Aegean Sea. Many of us noted how salty the water was and how easy it was to float at the water’s surface. Following our first afternoon at the beach, we were treated to a delicious seaside meal and were introduced to Greek dancing. At the end of our meal, the patio table and chairs were pushed aside and our dance instructors invited everyone to get up and learn the basic steps to some traditional Greek dances. One of the dances we learned was the Kalamatianos. As is the case with most Greek folk dances, it is danced in chain with a counterclockwise rotation. The lead dancer holds the second dancer by his hand and performs more elaborate steps and acrobatics.
Our stay in Nafplio also gave us the opportunity to explore the historical sites of the Mycenaean civilization. We marveled at the technology advancements that enabled these people to build a fortress and a beehive-shaped tomb, which dated back to the Bronze Age. The highlight of this tour was definitely our exploration of the theatre Epidavros. Upon excavation, archaeologists discovered that this theatre and Unesco World Heritage Site remains in near perfect condition. Our guide had us stand in the center of the theatre and clap to test the theatre’s perfect acoustics. We were amazed by how the sound generated by our simultaneous clapping traveled to the top row of the theatre. The theatre is still in use today, primarily showing ancient Greek comedies and tragedies. Apparently, the acoustics are so perfect that when the theatre is full, you can hear the actors whispering on stage even if you are in the back row.
Following our stay in Nafplio, we boarded a ferry en route to our first of two islands: Naxos! We were amazed by the beauty of the white sand beaches and turquoise water that Naxos had to offer. We spent many afternoons relaxing poolside, jumping in the waves at the beach and exploring the quaint shops and restaurants along the waterfront. One of our favorite days of the trip thus far was spent here in Naxos. In the morning, we made our way to the quaint village of Galini where we learned to cook authentic Greek dishes; tzatziki and stuffed zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. We enjoyed taking turns following our instructor’s lead as we sliced and diced fresh, local ingredients sourced from the restaurant’s farm. After our lesson, we were able to enjoy the fruits of our labor as we relaxed on the restaurant’s patio to enjoy our meal. In the afternoon, we had our introductory scuba course. It was an amazing experience to learn how to breathe underwater as we explored the bottom of the sea. A few of our trip members took to the new skills almost instantly! Later that evening, we put our Greek dancing lessons to the test as a live band played serenaded us during our seaside dinner.
As our time together is coming to an end, we are looking forward to ending the trip on a high note as we head to Santorini, an island famous for its cliffside views and picturesque sunsets.
The Westcoast Blogger