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Greek Culture Shock in Beautiful Nafplion

Author: PenelopeCorelli
Date of Trip: July 2009

Monday, July 13: Nafplion, Greece

After a nice breakfast of Eggs Benedict & some fresh squeezed orange juice, we went to the Queen’s Lounge to get our tender tickets. We got off at about 9:00am.

Walked around town. It was quite warm. This was our first stop in Greece.

Okay, a section of caution & a digression into languages. Now I know why they say, “It’s all Greek to me.” I had major culture shock — maybe I should have been prepared — but almost everything is written in the Greek alphabet! Oh, no! And I never studied Greek and never joined a sorority — though I don’t think it helps any of them. I knew pi(p) from geometry, and I had an Omega (O) watch when I was young (Now that these are worth a small fortune, wouldn’t you know I can’t find mine.)

I did get a Greek language CD and book set for travelers, & even copied it to my mp3 player, but I hadn’t studied it. I had spent months learning some Polish – considered the world’s hardest language to learn, I later found out — so I could communicate a little with my relatives on my pre-cruise trip. (Thankfully they knew more English than I did Polish.) I had Jim study Italian a bit — and he went through the CD once or twice, but when we got to Italy all he remembered how to say was “Dove gelateria?” I bought a Mediterranean phrase book that included Greek, Italian & Croatian, but never really used it. I don’t know if I even took a Turkish phrase book. Don’t think so. Even copied a list of Indonesian phrases, and a sign in Indonesian that said “Don’t remove, I’m getting dessert” (there are no more trays on the Lido) because some Cruise Critic members said it is nice to talk to the ship’s stewards in their language (But I left it at home). Way too much to learn. Not to scare anyone, but I felt a little intimidated & lost — and even a little irritated. No fault of the wonderful and friendly Greek people, but I was unprepared. I learned to say “thank you,” and used it in other Greek ports, but it’s too late once you’re there to acquire much in the way of survival skills.

A nice lady in a sandwich shop wrote “Hello”, “Please”, & “Thank you” on my notepad for me, but I got the feeling that the people expect visitors to have some knowledge of their alphabet, as she asked me, then had to use Roman letters. I wonder – Greeks were here before Romans, but the Romans won — and their alphabet came to become a standard worldwide — maybe that’s an issue? I don’t know. But I know what Roman letters sound like and with Greek — I can’t even tell what city I’m in! Okay, enough ranting — back to Nafplion (Navplion, Nauplion). See, it’s the Greek letter thing, or there’d be one spelling!

Cate decided she wanted to walk up the hill to the fortress — 857 steps! So we made her take the 2 Family Dolls we brought for this town (her USAF brother & his wife) — that’s a whole other “thing” — and the camera. Jim & I said we’d meet her at the bottom at 11:00am (It was now 9:50am). So she went up — there was also a road, we found out later, about 2 miles long, for tour buses and others to get to the top.

We (Jim & I) went to get some food. He had the idea to buy some food at a grocery store and have a picnic at a park, then take the ferry to the fort on the island in the harbor. So we looked around for a grocery. We found two of them, but there were no prepared foods & we were unfamiliar with the deli & other items — couldn’t read any of them! — So we ended up at a sandwich shop (the one with the helpful lady) & bought 3 ham & cheese baguettes to take with us (€2.20 each). Bought a can of Coke for €1 in a machine. I noticed that many of the cars here seem to park anywhere — double parking is common. I don’t think people here are in a hurry, so it doesn’t matter to them if they get blocked in.

Met Cate as she came down. There was a bench by a couple of stores where we sat when it was near the time she’d be back. She said when she got to the top — there was a €4 fee! Too late — she had no money with her, so she said she found a group and slipped in with them to the fortress. It was great, she said, and she took a lot of photos. Really nice ones! I wondered if we should have gone — she said there were a lot of people, so it was then we found out about the road. But we were glad that she got to see it and we didn’t want to walk all that way.

Saw lots of graffiti. Seems to be almost everywhere! — Especially in the larger towns. At times it spoils what could be great photos.

Because it was Monday, we found that the Archeology museum was closed; the Folk Museum appeared to be closed, also, but I later heard from someone that it wasn’t. Couldn’t tell; maybe we were too early? We wanted to take the little boat to the fort on the island. That wasn’t operating either. The outdoor cafes there were open.

So we walked along the harbor and around the peninsula. Lovely views. But LOTS of graffiti all over the rocks, and litter in the area below. Further below, down the hill, was a beach area. Saw some swimmers far out in the water — perhaps the salty sea kept them afloat. We sat on a bench along the walk and ate our ham, tomato, cheese baguettes and a couple of the breakfast treats — Danish — I had brought from the ship.

Many pines, cacti, bougainvilleas, and cedars grow along the walkway. The trees along some areas were overgrowing and hanging very low. Park areas had tall grass and looked unkempt — I wondered if the gardeners were on summer break — or maybe during dry summers they just let the grass grow. Some of the walkway streetlights were missing or broken. One thing I did notice here, and subsequently at many of the Greek ports we visited: it was cicada season, and all along the walkways it was very noisy — really loud! Yet the cicadas are hard to see. I remember the sound from my childhood summers in New York State. It’s a pleasant enough, albeit voluminous sound.

After about 3 hours ashore & 5 miles of walking, we went back to the ship. There are many people who absolutely love Nafplion, and say it is one of their favorite places. For some reason, I guess I’m not one of them. Had things been open, …then maybe. Or maybe not. But it’s still Greece!

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