At The Sea God’s Temple

Our last touristy stop in Greece was at the Temple of Poseidon.

This is a beautiful place, located about 70 km SSE of Athens. The temple itself is on a promontory and is surrounded by the sea on three sides. The temple is built on Cape Sounion. Legend has it that it is here that Aegeus leapt from the cliffs, to his death in the sea below. His son, Theseus, after killing the Minotaur, forgot to use a white sail on his return journey, causing his father to die in grief.

A simple mistake, and one death too many. While history records the death, and the naming of the sea, I wonder how Theseus actually felt when he realized that he was the unwitting cause of his father’s death. one trip, two deaths.

History records that the site was first inhabited in 700 BC. The original temple was destroyed by Xerxes in 480 BC. It was rebuilt in 440 BC by Pericles, I believe.

Byron visited the site, and his name is carved there. Would you classify this as the first known case of a celebrity messing up a historical site.

Yet, when we were there, it was late in the afternoon. The sun was beginning to go down in the blue, blue sky. The light of the setting sun reflected off the calm sea, and silhouetted the islands that surround the Temple.

The entire effect, to turn a trite phrase, was timeless. I sat there by the sea side, and looked at the islands sitting there in the sea; islands that have probably witnessed many sacrifices being made to the God of the Seas and The Oceans; islands that witnessed Xerxes destroy the temple; islands that saw it being rebuilt; islands that witnessed the decline of the temple, and watched Byron inscribe his name on one of the columns.

The islands shall remain when the temple is long gone.

After this trip, we returned to Athens.

One of our companions on this trip, on his return to his homeland, was arrested and executed. I took a picture of him standing with his face to the sun.

Unlike Aegeus, he did not jump to his death. But, the islands were witness to one of his last evenings as a free man.

Time does indeed pass us by.

Nafplion

Naflio was the second last stop for us in Greece. We got there after a very heavy Greek lunch.
The food was very good, but very rich and I felt as if I had just consumed a kilogram of bricks. We drove on towards Nafplion, stopping by at a fortified citadel on the way. I think that we stopped by at Tiryus, but I honestly cannot remember for sure. I was so much into my camera that I bumbled off, completely ignoring the guide. I have done this sort of stuff too many times in the past, and I have always lived to regret it.

After our stop over at the citadel, I looked over at Nafplio from the hilly road that we were driving on. It was late in the afternoon, and the town, tucked away in it’s little bay; with the castle of Bourtzi in the sea; with the clouds sweeping across the sky represented the perfect harmony of man and nature for me.

In my travels in Europe, one of the things that has always struck me, is the beauty of the environment. It was not always this way. India is far behind on it’s journey to economic well being, as is China. In both countries, we ignore the environment at our own peril, and if we continue down this path, then the consequences will be dire indeed.

Nafplio is a small town, with just about 10,000 people. It is a beautiful, old town. It is full of narrow lanes, cafes, cobbled streets. You could almost feel as if the great sweep of the current economic events in the world don’t matter to the people who live here. They seem to live their lives at a slow, leisurely pace. They seem to enjoy life.

I visited Naflio in 2005, and since then the financial crises that have hit the world and Greece would have surely taken it’s toll on this little town that is nicely tucked away in the Argolic Gulf in the North East Peloponnese.

Nafplio has had several names in it’s history. In classical times, it was known as Nauplia in the Attic Greece and Nauplie in the Ionic Greece. The names are remarkably similar to the modern name of the town.

It was the capital of the First Hellenic Republic during the Greek Revolution of 1821-34. The town has seen it’s share of excitement.

Sadly, we did not stay long enough, to listen to the singers in the pubs singing soulful Greek music. This is indeed a town for slow, graceful walks, for music of love and the soul. It is a town where you can sit and watch the sun going down, and heap praise on Mother Nature and feel blessed.

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