The town of Nafplion is overlooked by the Palamidi fortress at the top of a massive rocky outcrop. Built by the Venetians in the early 18th century, it certainly dominates the town. There are 999 steps to climb to get up to the top. Or, if you want to cheat, there’s a road to the rear so you can drive or get a taxi.

The Palamidi fortress in the middle, and the Akronafplia fortress to the right (on the cliff top above the hotel)

There are two other fortresses in the town as well: Akronafplia, which sits above the old town and dates back to the Bronze Age; and the Bourtzi, which sits on a small island in the bay.

The Bourtzi

There’s a huge expanse of tarmac around the port where it’s free to park, so this has been our camper stop. There were several vans here when we arrived, a couple of which were from the UK. Before setting off into town, we had a good old chat with fellow full timers Jo and Simon from Stockport, swapping tales of our respective travels.

Our camper stop for two nights

After a coffee at one of the many cafés we found our way to the old town and explored the narrow pedestrian lanes, window shopping and looking for somewhere to have lunch. There’s a large square at the centre of the old town, Syntagma Square, lined by several restaurants and bars which are almost empty this time of the year, though I expect they will be heaving once the warmer weather and tourists arrive.

We opted to have lunch at one of the restaurants on the square called ΕΛΛΑS (or Ellas), as it had stuffed tomatoes and moussaka on the menu, both traditional Greek dishes which we haven’t eaten since arriving in Greece. The restaurant is apparently 100 years old and claims to be ‘the first restaurant in Greece’. The interior is definitely traditional Greek, and doesn’t look like it’s been renovated since the 1950’s or 60’s, though I like places like that. The food when it arrived was delicious, but we’d ordered rather a lot and so left there feeling stuffed.

The ΕΛΛΑS restaurant
The oldest restaurant in Greece apparently

Climbing the 999 steps that afternoon was out of the question, so we instead went for a walk along the seafront before bumbling our way back to the van to let our lunch go down. Most of the other vans had left by now, only the other British van remained. We were soon joined by the Serbian van which we’d previously seen in Olympia and Gytheio, so we went and introduced ourselves to Marco, who is travelling around Greece with his two young children (very brave man!). As the weather was good we got the chairs out and spent the rest of the day reading.

In the evening we went for a walk into the new town where most of the shops were still open. From there we went back to Syntagma Square in the old town for a drink of ouzo, sitting outside to avoid the smokers inside. One trick we’ve learned is to order one 200ml bottle, as this costs half what it would if we ordered four individual 50ml servings. Our ouzo was served with a small plate of cheese and salami and a bowl of nuts, a bargain at €6.50.

Did I not mention baklava?!
Ouzo time!

This morning the weather was much more wintery – cold, cloudy and windy – so we wrapped up warm for our climb to the top. The British couple in the other van stopped us for a chat and they’re full timing as well, having been on the road for two years. Maybe it’s the time of year, but we’re meeting many more full timers here in Greece than we’ve met previously.

We found our way to the foot of the 999 steps and set off. The rocky steps were steep and uneven, with nothing to hold onto much of the time making it hard work, so we had to stop a few times for a rest, but we eventually made it to the top. Once in the castle complex we could enjoy the views of the town and port below, which looked tiny, like a miniature model. It’s just a shame that the weather wasn’t a little better, as you can apparently see across much of the Peloponnese on a clear day.

The Palamidi fortress
Views over the old town and the Bourtzi…
… the new town…
… and the port – we’re parked by the crane at the far end

We decided to take the road down rather than climb down the steps, and after about three quarters of an hour we found our way back to the ΕΛΛΑS restaurant. This time we had a much lighter lunch, just a couple of stuffed tomatoes each which were gorgeous. We’re going to have to have a go at making them ourselves.

This could be habit forming!

On our way back to the van we called in at the AB supermarket to get a few bits. It’s a really good Greek chain that we’ve been shopping at from time to time. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the van, and it got so cold that we had to put the heating on. The weather here changes day to day.

Tonight we went for dinner at a different restaurant in the old town and had another lovely meal. Tomorrow we’ll be moving just a few kilometres round the coast to spend the night at a campsite. We’ll have been off grid for nine nights, and our leisure battery needs a good charge from the mains. We’ll also make use of the washing machine there. After leaving there we’ll be heading towards Corinth, stopping to visit more ancient ruins along the way.


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