Today’s drive took me to Nafplio, with a stop at Mycenae. Nafplio is my final overnight stay (2 nights) on the Peloponnese peninsula. I then head back to Athens for one night before, Air Canada willing, coming home the next day.
In the introductions to Yesterday’s and the day before’s posts I said they would each be short. They weren’t. I know you have no reason left to trust me, but today, absolutely, positively … no, I’ll wait and see what happens.
Ruins. That’s what Mycenae is. Ruins. And an archaeological museum.
The ruins at the Mycenae Archaeological Site are significant. Or so my guidebooks tell me. But what do I know about the significance of ruins?
The museum is interesting and a Goldilocks size—not too big, not too small, just right. But I’m starting to get ruined by ruins and archaeological museums. They’re interesting and all. As I said in previous posts, I find old stuff fascinating. But they’re everywhere in Greece, at least everywhere in the parts of Greece I’ve visited on this trip.
The Archaeological Museum
I’ll start with the museum because I started with the museum on my visit. The museum groups artifacts differently in different rooms. One room displays Mycenae’s artifacts based on which structure, and sometimes which section of that structure, they came from. For example, one display case held items from the temple, another from tombs, etc.
Another room arranged items based on their use. One display for religious items, another for funeral objects, another for everyday objects, etc.
As a result of this organization, the pieces don’t appear in chronological order. The earliest I spotted dated from circa 1400 BC. But I didn’t look at every label. The museum might have earlier pieces.
The Ruins of Mycenae
The first ruin I came across at the archaeological site was a grave circle, followed by a tomb. Everybody dies, I guess. The big shots got buried in tombs. Other people got buried in grave circles. At least, I think that’s how it worked.
The grave circles were deep, wide, excavated holes.
The next ruin I saw at Mycenae The first tomb I saw was a cylinder, with no roof. The walls were stone and mortar construction. Based on a couple of tombs I came across later, my guess is that, at one time, the tomb had a conical roof.
Another feature of the tomb is that it has an entrance. A wide path carved out of a portion the side of the hill the tomb was built into leads to an entrance into the tomb. Visitors, including me, can walk inside. And I did.
The only way to go into the grave circles, however is to jump. The site discourages that by roping off the circles. Apart from the ticket seller and one person keeping an eye on people at the museum, I didn’t see any Mycenae site staff. So, if you do jump in, I’m not sure anyone would come along to drop a rope ladder or something else for you to climb up.
I take that back. I did see what I think were other Mycenae site staff. Guard cats. But I don’t think they’d be any help pulling you out of a hole you fall into. The cats don’t get paid enough to do that work, nor does their job description include it. So their union would get upset if they rescued humans.
After those first ruins for dead people, the next one I came across was the Lion Gate. (Not to be confused with the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver.) The Lion Gate is the entrance to the Mycenae fortress on a hill. It is a gate in the same sense that the gates to Monemvasia’s upper and lower towns are gates. I.e., it’s an entrance, but it doesn’t have a gate in it. Then again, if it defended the fortress, I imagine there was a gate at one time.
They call it the Lion Gate because two lions depicted in relief rest on the lintel of the entrance. Beyond the gate, sit another grave circle, the ruins of a castle and throne room, a cistern, a merchant’s building, and another tomb.
The Treasury of Atreus is located about 500 metres from the main archaeological site and museum. It has its own entrance, but one ticket covers both. They call it a treasury, but it’s another tomb. They buried royals there back when Mycenae was a going concern.
The base of the tomb is circular, then it rises to a conical roof, but you probably already guessed that from what I said a few paragraphs back. The acoustics inside are amazing. When I arrived, a family of four was already inside. The kids clapped their hands. No matter where I stood in the tomb it sounded as if the claps came from all around me.
Why is it now called the Treasury of Atreus, rather than a tomb? Beats me. But my guess is that, because people back then thought you could take your stuff with you into the great unknown, and because they buried royals there, and because royals tend to have valuable stuff, the tomb/treasury probably held great riches at one time.
Being up on a hill, the views of the surrounding sweeping hill and valley landscapes around the Mycenae site are also quite impressive.
By the time I arrived in Nafplio, checked into my hotel, and got settled, my watch said it was already 4:30. Consequently, I didn’t do much before the sunset.
I wandered the town a bit. It’s too soon to tell, but so far, I think it’s a very attractive, enjoyable town. Except for a few somewhat busy thoroughfares, the streets are mostly quiet. Some of them are pedestrianized.
Nafplio has a waterfront. Much of it is very attractive. Restaurants spread out into a large walk along it.
Unfortunately, that’s not all of the waterfront. Parking lots sit in front of other portions of it. I found that less attractive.
Away from the waterfront, the town climbs a hill. Pedestrians get some mid-block shortcuts from one street to the one above or below. Those shortcuts are stairs.
I watched a beautiful sunset from the seafront. Elsewhere, in one or two previous posts I mentioned how much I enjoy sunsets over oceans and seas. That’s not quite what happens here.
Nafplio resides close to, but not quite at the end of a bay off the Gulf of Argolis, a gulf of the Aegean Sea. The sun sets here behind a mountain ridge on a side of the bay.
Consequently, the mountain ridge swallows the sun, rather than the sun sinking below an ocean’s or sea’s flat horizon.
The effect was gorgeous. The setting sun created a broad orange fringe above the mountain ridge, which in that light was little more than a silhouette.
But, wait. There’s more!
Because the ridge is across the bay from Nafplio, the water picks up some of the orange from the sunset.
Before it had set, when I saw the sun wouldn’t set over water, I didn’t expect much from the sunset. That may be part of why it so impressed me. If you set low expectations going in, your audience is more likely to be impressed by your show.
So, bravo, Sun. Bravo. You are a consummate performer.
Unlike a few of the rooms I had elsewhere during this trip, the one here doesn’t have a balcony.
The hotel doesn’t have indoor corridors. It has two levels of rooms. The doors on the lower level open onto a courtyard with no view to speak of.
The doors on the upper level, my level, open onto a walkway. In front of each door there is a table about the size of a Parisian café table. Each table has two chairs.
The hotel is partway up Nafplio’s hill. I get a view of the portion of the town below from the walkway in front of my room. I can also see a bit of the bay.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I found and tested a way to use Google Maps through Apple CarPlay on my rental car. Because Apple Maps tried to kill me a couple times on this trip, I resolved to use Google Maps for the rest of the trip.
This morning, I asked Google Maps to plot a route to Mycenae. It did so without breaking a sweat. Breaking a sweat would have been quite a feat for an app.
I pulled up Google Maps on CarPlay. It displayed perfectly and I drove off.
As I drove, Google Maps’ map started rotating clockwise then counterclockwise about a quarter turn, rocking back and forth continuously. And the direction/location arrow didn’t move from it’s starting point no matter how far I drove.
I drove for five minutes or so, hoping it would correct itself. It didn’t. I then pulled over and switched back to Apple Maps.
The good news is, Apple Maps got me to my destinations and never tried to kill me today. A good day, I’d say.
I can think of only six possible explanations for Google Maps’ bad behaviour.
For some reason, Google maps has a problem with the location I was in this morning.
Apple CarPlay does not play well with Google Maps.
Google Maps hates me.
All technology hates me.
Something completely different.
A combination of the above.
I’m prepared to believe any or all of the above.
That’s it. Today’s post isn’t as long as the previous two posts. So this worked out a little better.
It’s still not short, but you did manage to plod through it. So, good job, dear reader. Good job.
Of course, maybe you didn’t plod through it. Perhaps you abandoned it after the first few paragraphs and went off to do something useful and enjoyable with your life. If so, you didn’t read this epilogue. Which is perfect, because, if you didn’t read it, then you don’t deserve the commendation I gave you in the previous paragraph.