Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cruising the Greek Islands: Nafplion, Mycenae & Hydra

We sailed from Monemvassia to Nafplion (once upon a time an important seaport town in the Peloponnese).  From Nafplion we traveled by bus to Mycenae.  Since my first sojourn in Crete, I have longed to see Mycenae, a major center of civilization in the second millennium BC, and probably related to the Minoan civilization that arose in Crete.

In 1874, Heinrich Schliemann excavated all over the acropolis (hill) of Mycenae.  He believed the stories of Homer in the Illiad contained historical truth and interpreted the site from that perspective (just as he had done with the excavation of Troy).  Schliemann found ancient graves with royal skeletons and spectacular treasures.  In one grave, he found a human skull with a gold death mask, and incorrectly declared:  “I have gazed upon the face of Agamemnon.” (Agamemnon was a king of Mycenae during the legendary Trojan War). 

To sit quietly among the rubble of stone and the huge walls of ancient Mycenae still standing, to look upon the Lion’s Gate, and the Treasury of Atreus, after years of reading about it, was a long-awaited dream come true.  I could not grasp the wonder of the place, or visualize what it must have been like those many years ago, nor could I believe that I was at last at Mycenae.  

Returning to Nafplion, we boarded our yacht and sailed that afternoon to our last island stop: Hydra.  The only motor vehicles permitted on this island are trash trucks.  Horses, mules and donkeys, along with water taxis provide public transportation.  Here we enjoyed an evening stroll, and yet another taverna dinner, and a spectacular sunset over the Aegean Sea.  Afterward, we set sail for Athens.

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