Thursday, August 30, 2007

Nafplio or Nafplion - Peloponnese, Venetians

Nafplio, Peloponnese, Greece

Update August 2007 - with the fires in the news, but I think mostly inland.

Nafplion is on the Peloponnese Peninsula, coast, southeast of Athens and the mainland. This is a beautiful resort destination. Imagine great romance. Not difficult in this setting. It was occupied by the Venetians, look up the place names associated with the old Venetian empire at //, then to the History of Venice, then down to Napili di Romania, Port of Morea on the Gulf of Argos (Argos was the ancient town there), and see that its current name is Nafplion.

Click on the links there for the port and the fortress --there is a 15th century fort at the top of the hill. See //; and //

The modern town: elegant Greek-Venetian architecture. Splendid for a cruise stop. See For other history and photos, see

On the way: artichoke fields. In bloom. Read the historian Herodotus on the ancient world 450BC. or so, for an idea of the vibrancy and movement among peoples. Artichokes at that time in Mauritania, says Strabo - huge. //

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Meteora - clifftop monasteries

The geology of Meteora:  It had been, in remote times, undersea, rivers then carving around prominences as water fell, land exposed. See

 Meteora, Monastery, Greece

Monasteries were constructed on cliff-tops, many on free-standing geological formations like air islands. If At the center here, see see the ropes hanging down that suspended the baskets that were the only way up for people and goods in the old days. There also was a suspended rope between the monastery and the cliff on the other side, for a way over. See

Geo-tourism:  This site would be excellent.  See book "Geotourism" by Ross Dowling at this site:

Meteora view,  Monasteries, Greece

These monasteries were built around 1100 AD and thereafter, by hermits and monastics fleeing from the invading Ottomans, or for their own reasons - preferring isolation. See history of Meteora,

There is an entire area of these stacks with or without structures on top. See See also

Meteora, Creece. Conglomerate rock formations, and medieval monasteries

 One story of how these were built:

  • A hermit made his way to the top of one summit, and wondered how to proceed with shelter. An eagle came by and dropped him a feather. Then, it dropped a piece of twig, and then enough materials to fashion a rope. 
Most are accessible by car to a reasonably close place, then you walk long steps up or over on pedestrian bridges. We had two pairs of day shoes - one to get muddy and then let dry, while the other pair saved the day. Sneakers are not good for climbing. Too slippery on wet smooth stone. In bad weather, we got used to taking off our shoes in the bathrooms and rinsing off the soles.

Rock formations, monastery at summit, Meteora, Greece

These are World Heritage Sites. The area is on the list for many tour groups. See

Wardrobe for Orthodox areas: 

This is an orthodox area.  Ladies, wear a skirt (I had a denim one, mid-calf, for easier climbing).  Some women had a light shawl wrap, square-ish, that could be wrapped like a sarong to cover trousers.
  • . If you are dressed inappropriately, including either long pants or shorts, the monastery will loan you a shawl from a large stack in the corner. Ladies in shorts or pants not allowed. 
  • Cover your shoulders. Carry around your own silky covering or buy one of the sarong squares.  This is more convenient than raincoats, and serves for picnics and tidier car snacking.

Clifftop monastery, Meteora, Greece

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fires on the Peloponnese.

Olympus, view. Greece

Where are the gods when we need them?

Travel makes news personal. In August 2007, there were vast fires on the Peloponnese peninsula. For an idea of the scope, see the New York Times slide show today at //

If you are inclined to contribute, idea: Find a trusted local conduit and learn something of the people in your area from there. Visit Greek Orthodox churches for leads, or local schools that may have Greek exchange students, or find a trusted American project and follow through to check it out - example, try The American Farm School in Thessaloniki, Greece. Go to An advantage here is the English-speaking.

There is never assurance that all you contribute will get to the place or people needed. Leave it to the gods. Letting things go is good for your health.