Today was the final day of our bike ride. My legs and body are tired, but I woke up with a positive attitude and a good amount of energy for the final day. We woke up, ate breakfast (I have been having a small bowl of the most delicious, creamy greek yogurt with honey drizzled on top and coffee most mornings, with maybe a piece of bread on the side). Our hotel in Nafplio has been amazing - comfortable two room suite with a beautiful little balcony with views of the port and mountains in the background as well as the high Palamidi fortress just behind us. The hotel staff have been great and we have been treated to an elaborate breakfast of yoghurt, cake, wraps, spinach pastries, bread, jams and eggs. As usual, I have not been hungry in the morning, so I have packed a pastry with me on the journey.
We were told to meet our driver at 9 am at the Nafplio bus stop today. The plan was for him to take us to Epidaurus, from where we would bike the 42km back to our hotel. The bus stop being a two minute walk from the hotel, we had our breakfast and made our way.
Epidaurus was about a 30-45 min drive away (maybe slightly more) and is an ancient place of worship and definitely a historical highlight for me. The most impressive part of the whole site was the 2300 year old amphitheatre (dating back to the 4th Century BC) which is incredibly well preserved - holding up to 14,000 viewers. We walked to the top row of the amphitheatre and the views were incredible. We could also see everything perfectly from any seat in the circle below. What was most astonishing were the excellent acoustics - you could hear conversations being had on the ground from the top row - the sound carried so well. Now I can understand how people enjoyed plays and spectacles without audio! The other really cool part of Epidaurus was the Stadium, which dates back to the 5th Century BC. We saw running posts and a track, where original races took place! Really cool. There were also shrines, baths, and a museums preserving the ancient artefacts. All really great.
One thing i have learned being in Greece, is that to truly understand timelines and populations, you need to not only know Greek history but also Greek Mythology. When we visit different sites, we are inundated with places of worship and names different communities living in the same sites at different times. Apparently, understanding the Bible is helpful to understand timelines.
Once our self guided tour was over, we picked up our locked bikes and set off for Nafplio, with a stop at a beach in the first 20km. The profile looked quite easy, but there were a lot of hills. Today I was feeling energised and had no problem with any of the cycling. I think my endurance finally kicked in and I felt like I was in good shape for all the climbs, keeping a good pace. We climbed to a highpoint, through the hills on the side of the road and turned off to go down the mountain. Going down was a bit scary, mostly due to the many many many potholes along the way, but I kept it very slow and steady and managed to keep it safe and reasonably comfortable. When we arrived at the beach - I immediately stripped off my cycling clothes to be in my swimsuit which I had worn underneath and jumped into the lovely water to cool down. It was perfect. After wading in the sparkling water, I took a rest in the shade with some water, diet coke and ate one of the spinach pastries from breakfast that we had packed along the way
After about 45 mins of lounging, we decided that it was time to head back to town. This last bit was the most trying, not because it was challenging, but because one of us ran out of gas. I stayed behind with them but
it was simply not possible . Finally we all supported each other by taking turns riding their bike so they could walk and catch their breath. It was confusing and hard but we made our destination in one piece.
We arrived at 4:30pm - and I showered and immediately headed to the beach. I hadn't seen the Nafplio beach yet (it was on the other side of the port) - but after scaling a short hill at the back of our hotel, we arrived and spent the next few hours swimming and lounging. To the left of our beach there was an abandoned building on a cliff face with graffiti and the best views. We joked that this should be our self sustaining commune in the future - where we live a simple life and invite fellow Londoners for a sejour.
After some beach time (the water was lovely too - but i kept screaming every 5 mins because i kept getting poked and bitten by tiny fish - a highly uncomfortable feeling) - we headed back to the hotel, showered and decided to enjoy our final sunset with a cocktail and have dinner in town. I drank a Strawberry Daiquiri watching the sunset and got a mild brain freeze. We then walked to a restaurant for a delicious Italian meal and basically stuffed our faces to a point where nobody could move or have coherent conversation. It was really fun. We waddled back to our apartment and called it a night
Day 9 - Final day in Nafplio
Today was the final day. Yesterday over dinner, we plans to walk the 1000 steps to the Palamidi fortress behind our hotel in the morning. It was the final push of cardio for the holiday. I woke up at around 7:45, had a coffee and waited for the others. One of the group of 4 joined me, so we did the walk up to see the views. We put my phone on speaker, listened to some tunes and did the walk up and down. The views were great. We saw the entire town, the other castle grounds (there are 3 castles in town) and great views of the sea. We were also back at the hotel at a smooth 9am.
It is now after breakfast and I am sitting in the balcony finishing this journal entry. The sun is shining but there is a wonderful warm breeze and the views are totally special. I am going to spend the rest of the time reading (I succeeded in my journaling mission but failed in my reading mission), having a cheap and cheerful sports massage and just enjoying the final moments in this lovely country.
Until the next cycling adventure!