It is a pleasant surprise when, after two days of haggling with shopkeepers, battling it out with tourists for the best view spots and waiting in line for tables to clear, we finally arrived at a place where none of that existed. In fact, apart from our yacht, only one other yacht was anchored at port. The port itself was interesting as it was enclosed by the beach on one side and had lush green mountains on the other side.
Travel Tip: Make a conscious effort to visit places which are off the beaten track. The hidden beauty you will find in these places is incomparable and will truly be worth your while.
I enjoyed the best dinner of the entire trip on this island. With a range of options at Plaka port itself, the group decided to break up into twos and threes. Sarah and I chose a table near the water at a tavern near the water, with the perfect beach and mountain views on both sides and the sunset behind us. The spot was priceless. The owner herself came out to greet us and offered us complimentary handmade ice cream, while we browsed the menu. I opted for deep fried whole calamari, while Sarah decided on freshly grilled whitefish and the local speciality – eggplant parmigiana, accompanied with a glass of the house red. The food was hot, extremely fresh (catch of the day) and portions were generous. I also loved the fact that our total bill amounted to less than 20 Euros, which was actually the cheapest meal I enjoyed during my entire time in Greece.
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View from castle at Nafplio. Photo: Sarah Rose Kortright[/caption]
Travel Fact: The sweet “tsakóniki” aubergine grows in the fertile plain around Leonidio. In the narrow streets of Leonidio and the villages around it, a different language is spoken. It’s the Tsakonian language, which derives from the ancient Doric dialect. Regarded as the oldest dialect in the world, it is spoken and written by some 2,000 people in this area.
My other worthwhile memory of Greece happened a little while later, after dinner, when Sarah and I comfortably settled into beach chairs overlooking the water. The rest of the group joined us soon after and settled into a circle on the sand surrounding us. The stories followed freely under the stars. It was a little while later that a red spot on the water caught our eye. We all looked at it while the conversation flowed. The red spot continued to grow larger and larger, until at one point it felt like a boat or a ship may be approaching. And then, suddenly, in a combined moment of awe we suddenly realised what we were looking at – it was the moon rising. It was the most amazing blood-red, full moon that I had ever witnessed. And it was breathtaking. I remember how the entire group fell silent – not a word passed between any of us for the next 10 minutes as we watched the moon ascend.
I have witnessed and experienced a lot during my travels, but that is one scene and one experience that I will never forget. That absolute moment of awe.
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Our next spot on the itinerary was the ‘party’ island of Napflion. However, perhaps because it was the end of summer, we were greeted by the distinct ‘lack’ of party atmosphere. Our skipper directed us to a dilapidated castle on top of a hill, which meant climbing up the 1,000 steps which led us to it. The views from the top indeed did not disappoint! We lingered for an hour and then made our way down. The climb up actually meant that we were all famished and the group decided on freshly baked island pizza for dinner. Not a massive fan of pizza myself, I stole away for some grilled calamari and fried local mushrooms, joining the group later for desert and fresh sangria.
Travel Fact: During the Greek War of Independence, Nafplio (a town on Napflion) was a major Ottoman stronghold and was besieged for more than a year. The town finally surrendered because of starvation. After its capture, because of its strong fortifications, it became the seat of the provisional government of Greece.
Following dinner, we headed to a cosy bar on the other side of the island. We had to climb down several steps before reaching the edge of the water, but what greeted us made it all worth it. Golden lanterns adorning a gorgeous spot by the water, with comfortable chairs under the stars and the occasional waves crashing against the cliff – absolute bliss. “This must be what millionaires enjoy on a daily basis,” is what I thought to myself as I settled in comfortably to the sound of chatter around me and lamented my lack of a decent night vision camera.
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Travel Tip: Invest in a decent night vision HD camera. You will come across many beautiful sights and scenes, often after dark. Some may even fall into the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ category. It is therefore a wise move to invest in a decent camera to capture these moments.
We spent the rest of the evening there, bonding between ourselves, before retiring to the boat and continuing over a group game of truth and dare – details of which we shall keep mum about (haha!). And, as I retired to bed, I remember excitedly chattering away with my bunkmate Sarah about what surprises lay in store for us the next day!
Jennifer aims to travel all of the Globe within the next ten years, either solo or with company. Suffering from a serious case of wanderlust, she seeks to absorb the essence and soul of a place, rather than chilling back in a resort. She is always up for new travel adventures so if you’re a kindred soul, get in touch!