Sunday, April 20, 2008

Are You Open or Not?

Greek museums and sites seem to operate on their own mysterious schedule. Ignore those guidebooks and the opening hours. What is supposed to be open until 7pm, and keeping summer hours, are actually not and no one seems to know why or when they will stay open late. On our drive down to Nafplio, we stopped in Mycenae, only to discover that the site closed at 3. However they told me that Ancient Corinth would be open until 7. We took a drive out there only to discover that wrong…they closed at 3 just like everyone else. Since we were already there, we decided to check out Acrocorinth, above the main city of Ancient Corinth, high up on the hill, a fortress that was refortified by every occupying power of Greece. It has Turkish, Frankish and Byzantine influences. Although we couldn’t go into the fortress, there was a sweeping view of Greece from the top.

We then headed down to Nafplio, the first capital of Greece in 1829. The medieval old town area is dense but quite charming with cafes lining the wharf. It was packed full of people and cars. We found our hotel, the Hotel Leto at the end of an alley and were impressed by the skill of the local residents in getting in and out of their very narrow winding driveways and parking spaces. This was clearly a town designed before the days of cars. The hotel is clean and lovely. I mentioned to the owner that Greek people are so friendly, and he laughed and said, “No, not always!” Perhaps they are like Chinese, friendly to tourists and not to their own! We ventured out for a seafood dinner along the wharf, though we found a Fodor’s recommendation Arapaka, quite expensive and only so-so. We ordered grilled cod and stuffed squid. Prices are based by the kg, and an average serving is 900gm for most fish like grouper, at 60E per kg. Smaller fish like cod run 40E for a kg and a serving is around 600 gm. With the exchange rate at 1.58, dinner was not cheap! Walking back to the hotel, we got great shots of the fortress bathed in lights.

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