This post is part of the so called “Greek Series”, consisting of photographies shot while backpacking Greece in September 2013. You’ll find a basic introduction to the series here and a list of all previous posts over here.
Nafplio is a port city in the western part of the Peloponnes peninsula. The former capital of Greece today is mostly a vacation destination for tourists from Athens due to proximity and good ferry connections. People from Athens escape here for weekend trips to shop and enjoy themselves. It is a touristy place for sure with shopping boulevards and many luxury brand stores. The economic crisis Greece is facing was not very obvious and we saw a lot less graffiti and poverty then in other urban areas. Though the city as we saw it definitely didn’t represent the living reality of most of Greek people it was definitely a good place for going out and having a good time in general. There are two castles / fortresses to see here, one on the top of the hill behind the city with a great landscape view over the buildings and the sea and a small fortress on an artificial island within the bay itself.
This post is a continuation of the one I published some days ago about my Portugal journey in mid of February. It was a good choice to travel there in February by the way. There aren’t many tourists and you meet a lot of locals. The temperature (around 15 to 20 degress Celsius) is perfect for walking around, but there is a good chance for rain though. So that’s a bit of a risk. Although I was in the sea for a couple of minutes (I promised it to a friend) in general I can’t recommend going for a swim in winter 😉 Unless maybe you are Russian and practice one of these crazy winter swims being shown on TV. Anyway the water was darn freezing.
So maybe it is a better idea just to look at the sea, for example from the Tower of Belém. You get a great view and the architecture of the tower, build in the 16th century, is fascinating by itself. Actually this isn’t the Atlantic but the Tejo River. Unfortunately it was quite foggy this particular morning and you can’t really see Almada, the city lying on the other side of the river bank.
I liked these small grocery stores very much. You don’t see them very often in Vienna anymore sadly. We had a funny experience in a small shop selling handcrafted ceramics. The old lady spoke Portuguese with me even after I signalized that I didn’t understand it. But she realized that I didn’t get the price so the old lady showed it to me with her hands hereby teaching me how to count in Portuguese. Then the charming woman said something like “Good Schoolboy” and we had a laugh. And in case you wonder about the odd sign of the above shop. I wonder too 😉
The “waterfront” of Porto is definitely the most AWE-inspiring part of the city. In this town we joined a free walking tour due to our short stay (just one day). A young teacher showed us her city with much dedication. There was an old women monastery out of pure gold. Replying to my question about protection measures she just said “These kind of things don’t happen here”. Her love for Porto was insipring and uplifting. But she also talked about the hard times Portugal is facing due to the finance crisis these days. There are many young people without jobs and it looks grim unfortunately.
A narrow street in Porto. The Portuguese are fond of cute dogs (I think I didn’t see any big ones). They are everywhere! This particular one followed me a while but lost interest in me after seeing a cat and chasing the poor little thing.
In the background you see the Cathedral of Lisboa in a similar style as Notre Dam (I guess at this point architecture lovers will shout uncontrollably). The picture was taken from one of many viewing points, so called miradouros. You see the Baixa (downtown) and parts of Alfama, the higher part on the eastern side of the old town. Needless to say the red rooftops are magnificent.
Portuguese are definitely keen on urban art. I didn’t like everything, but this piece was cool. Maybe you would think the tiles are unusual and quite modern here. But in fact Portuguese use tiles a lot. They are called Azulejos and have a centuries old tradition in Portugal. Wanna know more about them? Well I guess then you have to tune in for Part III in a couple of days ;)*
* or you read the wikipedia article, but ppppssss.. don’t tell anyone.
In the midst of Austrian winter I embarked on a week long journey to a warm and friendly place at the most western point of Europe. Portugal was amazing and I would like to share with you my impressions in a series of posts. Here we go with the first one..
Striking and very interesting was the difference between Porto and Lisboa. One being the name giver of the country, the other the actual capital. While Lisboa is undenyingly an European metropole there is also a provincial charme about it. Being in the Baixa (downtown) you would think you are in an old 30.00+ town, but when you go up to one of the many (I say again many) viewpoints you will discover that you are indeed in a pulsing capital. Porto just screams life. There are these narrow streets full of history, churches out of pure gold (which will take your breath away), superb restaurants and lovely people. And portwine 😉
This statue stands in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belém, Lisboa. Laying a little bit outside of the city core Belém is an important cultural area. We slept in Belém for the first nights and it was perfect to discover the sights here, like the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (a beautiful monastery of the 16th century and World Heritage – see down below – ) and the Torre de Belem (tower from the same century and symbol of the city).
A birdview of Belém. You see the mentioned monastry. Once Belém was situated outside of the city and after the earthquake of 1755 there were ideas of rebuilding the destroyed Lisboa in Belém, which did not suffer as much from the catastrophy.
One must love these precious yellow trams. Especially the ones going from the lower parts of the city to the higher parts. The view is amazing, the atmosphere unique. Basically the center of Lisboa can be diveded into a valley (Baixa) laying between two hills (Bairro Alto – seen here – and Alfama), the trams connecting them. A line crossing all these neighborhoods is Number 28.
In the background you see the bridge of 25 de Abril, connecting the independent city of Alamada with Lisboa. It is a suspension bridge and often compared to the Golden Gate bridge. In fact it was build by the same company and constructed in a similar style because of the thread of earthquakes both cities are constantly facing.
While the earthquake of 1755 could be felt in Porto too the city was not destroyed and so are the houses much older. But besides of that the buildings of the city seem narrower and have an own charme different of Lisboa.