Ancient Greece – part III

From Olympia continue the trip through Ancient Greece by driving on to Pylos on South West of the Peloponnese.  Planned to stay one night – ended up staying three.

Karlis city hotel – Pylos
Navarene Bay from castle at Pylos


Pylos looks our over the Bay of Navarene – famous from the capture of the Spartans by the Athenians during the Athenian/ Spartan wars.  But more recently famous as the scene of the naval battle between the Sultan (Turkey) and the British, Russian and French fllet in 1828 – leading shortly afterwards to the Independence of Greece.

Stayed in a centrally located hotel – Karalis City Hotel – with a view out over the harbour and the bay.

The Castle at Pylos (only 300m from the centre) is well worth a visit – and includes an excellent museum with great history of the naval battle of 1828.  Also

from the castle mseum

includes great range of artifacts recovered from various local sites.

Found Pylos a great place to stay – good local beaches, good restaurants, nice village and plenty to do.  And we experienced the only rain of our trip – all of five minutes.



From Pylos we drove to Nafplio – about a three and a half hour journey (50% motorway).  I had been to Nafplio in 1981 – and was looking forward to the return trip.  We actually based ourselves at a beach hotel about 15km outside Nafplio (at Tolo Beach).

Hotel itself was disappointing – but on the beach so no need to use the pool when the sea is directly outside your hotel.  Spent  a couple of evenings in Nafplio – lovely pedestrianised areas, great selection of restaurants and shops, street artists – with the magnificant castle in the background.

Nafplio was a perfect base for revisitng two of the highlights of my 1981 visit: the theatre at Epidaurus and Agamemnon’s palace at Mycenae.

Theatre at Epidaurus


The theatre at Epidaurus is famous for the outstanding acoustics – and we all certified this by having one person speak from the centre of the theatre and another listen from the top row.  Just to sit there for an hour in the late evening sunshine, looking out over the groves of trees.


Also took the opporuntiy to run on the track at Epidaurus.

Running in Epidaurus

Fun to meet with someone else also revisiting Epidaurus for the first time in 36 years.



There is something magical about Mycenae – about a 30 minute drive out from Nafplio (on the way you pass Tiryns – the former palace of Menelaus).

Lion’s Gate at Mycenae

We enter Mycenae via the Lion’s Gate and walk up through the site.

From Mycenae

The views from the top demonstrate the commanding position and location – looking out over the plain and down to the sea in the distance.

And the museum at Mycenae is well worth an hour or two before leaving for a swin back at Nafplio

All of these sites just remind me of the importance of Greece in the history of civilisation and Europe.  It is so important that we preserve these sites and encourage younger people to experience and enjoy them.

Combining sun, sea and sites in Classical Greece – part 1

Back in Greece after 36 years

Just back from a nine day trip to Greece.  Lucky enough to have had the chance to have studied both Latin and Greek for my leaving cert in 1980.  And my only visit to Greece todate was via interrail in 1981 (having travelled by train from Venice, through Yugoslavia, to Athens).  On that visit saw the Parthenon and the museum in Athens and Epidaurus, Mycenae and Tiryns on the Peloponnese.

This time flew to Athens and drove – itinerary taking in Marathon, Thermopylae, Delphi, Olympia, Pylos, Nafplio, Epidaurus, Mycenae and Tiryns.

September is a beautiful time to visit Greece (temperature in the 30s during the day and the 20s at evening time).   Initial hotel bookings were with the assistance of and additional nights booked locally.  Logistics could not have been more straightforward.  Road network was excellent – ranging from motorway to highway to quiet country roads.  And traffic and parking were no challenge post summer peak times. The people were very friendly and informative in all respects –  looking for restaurants, beaches, archaeological sites, whatever.

Burial mound (tumulus) of Greeks who died at the Battle of Marathon


Visited Marathon Saturday afternoon.  After a swim in the sea headed to the site of the Battle of Marathon and the tumulus in which the bones of the dead Greeks were buried.  As you read the history and learn about the battle you begin to understand the heroism shown at the time – in terms of the complete mismatch of the two sides.  You also gain an insight into the tactics used by the Greeks (weak centre and strong wings).  Of course this battle gave its name to the use of the word marathon to describe our best known long race: based on the runner running back to Athens to inform the Athenians of the victory at Marathon.  We also visited the museum which is about 5km from the battle site.  Lots of interesting items there, including a number of graves which have been discovered and opened up.

From Marathon we headed north to Kamena Vourla on the coast – within easy striking distance of Thermopylae.  Nice little seaside resort – stayed in a seaside front property – Mitsis Galini Wellness spa & Resort.

Leonidas who died a hero’s death at Thermopylae


On Sunday after a swim headed to Thermopylae.  As you approach you get the sense of the location and the logic of the battle which took place.  There is a narrow passage between the sea and the mountains and a small number of Spartans looked to block the Persian advance through this gap.  Really excellent museum and 3-D presentation explaining the background to the battle, what happened over the three days and the subsequent impact for Athens and Sparta.

Honouring the Spartans at Thermopylae

When about to be overrun Leonidas and the remaining Spartans climbed on a mound to fight to the end. They died under a hail of Persian arrows, having bravely fought off the Persians for three days.

And from Thermopylae we headed across the hills (and through a number of mountain villages) to Delphi.  This was the day of the All Ireland football final (I think we were the only tow people in Delphi following the match.  But we succeeded in seeing the gamle courtesy of Go GAA – using the broadband at our hotel.

Looking down from the village of Delphi

Delphi is a beautiful setting at about 500m above sea level – with wonderful views down into different valleys from the top.  Lovely village in which to stay with a number of very good food options.  Again was struck by the friendliness of everyone we met.

Young entrepreneurs in Ireland

Having struggled though all the bad news about Greece, the Euro, the economy was great to get to ‘You Don;t have to be well-heeled’ on Page 9 of the business section of today’s Sunday Times.  Great report from Sandra O’Connell. If you are a young entrepreneur then Ireland is a great place.

Tara Haughton was an early starter at 15 – but why not?  Seems to me that the web waits for no one – but the corollary is anyone can start any time.  Have a look at the Rosso Solini Shop on line.

The interview with John Egan of Archipelago is great – with references to Sandbox and  The whole idea of ‘Archie Talks’ is great.  I think a lot of this points to the gaps that are there because of our traditional, slow to change, educational systems.  But rather than complain, these initiatives get entrepreneurs and smart people talking and working together.  The World is Flat and these people know it.

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