More than Ancient Relics: Athens and Nafplion

Would you like a weekend with ancient relics? That isn’t something I would normally jump at the chase to do, but this was something rather different. Despite having travelled extensively around Europe, Greece is somewhere I have spent very little time, yet is one of the most historical and well visited short haul destinations.

Thanks to Kirker Holidays, I was able to experience what both Athens and the Eastern Peloponnese has to offer, and let me tell you, it’s a lot!

The first taste of the history of Greece came a lunchtime, with a short break alongside the Corinthian Canal, the narrow channel linking the Aegean Sea and the Gulf of Corinth, at just 4 miles in length. And, yes, they even do bungee jumping from the bridge!

At just a couple of hours away from Athens, the first night would be spent in the ancient city of Nafplion. With narrow cobbled streets lined by wonderful tavernas and interesting independent shops, the former Venetian town is an ideal place to spend a few days.

The hotel for the night, the Amprytriton boutique in nature and style right on the seafront and just a couple of minutes walk from the centre of town. Its sister hotel the Nafplio Palace sitting above, together with cutting edge designed rooms and suites, with a TV at every turn!

On the route back to Athens there were a couple of important stops. The first the archaeological site of Ancient Mycenae. On top of a hill, entered through the ‘Lion’s Gate’, you can see the beehive tombs of warriors and a fortified citadel. There is also a small museum too see some of the artefacts recovered from the site.

Continuing on the road to Athens, the next stop was the theatre of Epidurus, known for its excellent acoustics, and is still used for concerts today, initiated by the singer Maria Callas.

It is always a pleasure to stay in what I call ‘Grande Dame’ hotels. That really was the case in Athens, at the internationally renowned Grande Bretagne, right opposite the Government building in the centre of the city. My room, perfectly appointed, perfectly situated and wonderfully serviced. The view from the rooftop restaurant stunning.

Yes, it really is a must to see all the sites of Athens. Sadly, I didn’t really have the time to see everything, but a morning at the Acropolis to see the Parthenon, and the excellent new Acropolis museum was a good entry point. Great views all around the city despite the rain!

Ending the story, included short visits to the new Opera House located near the harbour, and a short stop for lunch in the harbour. A later stop at Lake Vouliagmeni, which is said to have healing properties, before the main event – the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio.

Really, Greece is so much more than ancient relics, but the food, the people and the connection they have to their past. It really is enlightening and heartening that there is still such a close bond between the past and future, and they work in harmony.

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