I count myself incredibly blessed because as at the time I visited Greece, I had slashed the top two countries off my long list of places to go. Italy was the first.
I was becoming a year older and I was sure Greece was the best location to enter a new year in my life and it was!
Athens, Nafplio and the Island of Zakynthos were the stops in Greece and it turned out be a perfect mix between urban, idyllic and touristic.
Athens is a lot to take in and a shock to the system – a clash of times. In the space of hours we were in ancient Greek ruins and then under subways inspecting the graffiti. From Monasteraki market, with its cool market vibes to Acropolis and its ancient ruins and history, Athens was a surprising city and not at all what I expected. Asides the ancient ruins there were also more modern ruins, deserted buildings, graffiti, boarded up windows. Greece was going through an economic downturn and Athens showed it clearly.
We swiftly moved from hectic Athens to Nafplio which I was really looking forward to. Nafplio is a small sea side town in the Peloponnese. It was a much needed relief from the bustle of Athens, it was also mostly devoid of tourists when we went in mid May.
It’s a little town which still offers all you would hope to experience in Greece – ancient hilltop castles like the Palamidi which is 999 steps up on a hill(we took a bus up instead), deserted beaches with clear waters and also many chic restaurants and shops! It is also a good base from which to explore Epidaurus on a day trip.
Now Epidaurus is probably the best preserved Greek theatre in the world with a phenomenal view of the landscape of the Peloponnese. It has more or less perfect acoustics as any of the 14,000 people seated in the theatre could hear the actors regardless of their distance from the centre! It is truly amazing!
I cannot talk about my time in Nafplio without mentioning Nafsimedon hotel where my friends and I stayed. It is a gorgeous tiny boutique hotel in the centre of Nafplio. The building is just stunning and we stayed in a room with a mezzanine. I liked how cosy and luxurious it felt but it was still very affordable. I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone going to Nafplio.
From Nafplio we headed to our last stop in Greece, Zakynthos. Zakynthos is an island tourist town in the Ionian Sea. The fact that it has its own international airport shows that it is a real tourist hive. It swarmed of English tourists and felt less like Greece and more like little England. It had all the shops geared towards tourists all selling more or less the same kind of mass produced merchandise. You will see menus here serving English breakfasts. Having just left idyllic and authentic Nafplio we had a jolt on coming to Zakynthos. It is a beautiful island and we got to go on a boat trip around the Island and swim in caves, lounge on a little island beach and just enjoy the sea. Our hotel was right in front of the ocean.
Greece, like Italy, is bigger than I imagined when fantasizing about my first trip and I really feel like I have only grazed the surface. There is so much more of Greece I would love to explore. However, the few days I spent in Greece were amazing, I was especially pleased that the whole trip was planned by my friends and I. We planned all the transportation from Athens to Nafplio to Zakynthos which was an adventure in itself as we hopped from bus to ferry to train. It gave our trip a more authentic feel to it. The whole trip was very authentic and true in the sense that we experienced various parts and sides of Greece!