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Perhaps the best thing about small ship luxury cruising is that you are able to visit places that the Grands, Destinies and Voyagers have to pass by. On Friday morning Silver Wind arrives at Monemvasia, Greece. Located at the tip of a barren, dark rock in the southeast of the Peloponnesus, this village is often referred to as the Gibraltar of Greece.

Founded in the 8th century by the Greeks, Monemvasia boasts a colorful history. The cobblestone streets of the Lower Town, perched against the rock and surrounded by an impressive fortification, are slowly but surely turning into the "in" place of the region after being neglected for a long time. With its flower-laden terraces, quaint taverna's, a few little handicraft shops and not many tourists in sight, Monemvasia seems a true discovery. While many of our fellow shipmates opt for the full-day coach excursion to Mystra, Teun Wim and I decide to discover both the Lower and Upper Towns of Monemvasia on foot.

The Gibraltar of Greece?

From the Lower Town, a slippery zig-zag path leads up to the top of the rock, where the remains of the long deserted Upper Town can be found. The worn stone surface of the lane makes the expedition tricky, but after a steep climb we reach the top of the 985-foot high crag where we enjoy the breathtaking view of the Lower Town and Monemvasia Bay. 

Almost a week later Silver Wind calls at the Peloponnesus again. After a relaxing Wednesday at sea the ship anchors off the city of Nauplion around midnight and when we wake up on Thursday morning, we see another rock, another fortress, another steep climb, but a completely different town. Nauplion is the former capital of Greece, chockablock with medieval buildings recalling the Venetian occupation in the 15th century. Towering high above the city like a hawk's nest is the Palamidi Fortress, once the home to the King of Greece. With its pretty little port, marble squares, upscale shops and inviting terraces, Nauplion just waits to be discovered.

Colorful terrace
Silver Wind anchored in the bay of Nauplion

With Silver Wind anchored in the bay we are whisked ashore by the ever-efficient tender boats. What a way to arrive! Lining the waterfront are dozens of taverna's, bars and shops which are all but deserted at this hour of the day. The center of town is a maze of narrow marble streets, full of upscale handicraft shops.

Of course we climb the 999 steps that lead up to Palamidi Fortress. The climb up in the midday heat is excruciating; but the same goes for the descend. Luckily, there is an inviting open-air taverna right at the base of the fortress, where we stop for much-needed refreshments. We shop a little, linger a little on the town square and generally enjoy every minute in beautiful Nauplion. All too soon it is time to hop in our water taxi and head back to our Silver lady.

Morning view of Silver Wind anchored off Monemvasia

View from the old town of Monemvasia

The Main Street in Monemvasia

Lower Town, Monemvasia

Taverna in Monemvasia

Stunning view from the Upper Town

Main Square at Nauplion

View of the city from the Palamidi Fortress
Typically Greek street scene

First look at Nauplion from the tender

View of Silver Wind from high atop the Palamidi Fortress
Nauplion Harbor

 

 

All photos and text: 2004 Bart de Boer - www.ShipParade.com

First published on September 5th, 2004. All rights reserved.