Yesterday the weather changed dramatically. A day earlier you could have been forgiven for thinking that summer had arrived. Yesterday started quite bright but by lunchtime, a bolt of lightning and a clap of thunder was followed by torrential rain that turned the narrow alleyways into streams. At some point in the afternoon the precipitation had eased, enough to go for a walk with the loan of a hotel umbrella. Bourtzi castle that can you usually see backed by mountains, now appeared to be floating in solitude on the horizon, surrounded by mist and murk. What a difference a day makes!
Later that evening I found myself back at Aiolos Taverna for a quick bite to eat. I fall into conversation with a lovely lady called Jen who has taken a year to travel, part of which includes a month long stay in Tolo. Jen has been on a retreat and is also taking part in an art workshop in a few days time. Nafplio appears to have developed itself as a destination for activity holidays particularly focusing on wellness and the creative arts. And it fits well.
Today though the weather is brighter and I want to take a trip to Tolo. Jen had told me that Tolo isn’t looking very pretty at the moment. There are major roadworks going on. I ask Maria if she knows what is going on and she takes a guess that a broadband infrastructure is being installed, but she isn’t sure.
The bus station at Nafplio is very well organised. It is a small bus station but the buses will park in a specific spot based on the destination but it is very clearly laid out.
I have a little while before the bus to Tolo departs but today is market day in Nafplio, just a little further along the road from the bus station. I’d visited the market last time I was here but it seems to have doubled in size in 6 years. The first part of the market is clothing, household items and tools all stacked high. You may have a stall that has a mountain of bra’s or a table full of trousers. It’s one of those good old fashioned markets where you can roll up your sleeves and have a good rummage! The next section of the market is made up of fresh produce with brightly coloured displays of fruit and vegetables, jars of various types of honey, olives, huge plastic containers of wine. You could eat like a Greek God from this market and also know that you are buying directly from the producers.
As I walk between the stalls a young man hands me a rose. I see that he is walking with a small group of women handing out roses to other women. It is International Women’s Day and what a lovely way to acknowledge it!
Back at the bus station I find the boarding point for Tolo. Tickets for a local journey such as this are purchased on board the bus. We set off out of the town along the Asklepio Road and then turn towards Drepano. I do not exaggerate when I say that there are acres and acres of orange groves to the left and to the right. I just can’t take my eyes of them. They are grown closely together on small and compact trees that are so abundant with the luminous orange fruit. I remember Maria telling me that the small oranges are used for juice, which these are. These must be the juice variety.
After passing through Drepano we arrive at Tolo. I had been following the route on Google maps as I wanted to start my walk at the beginning of the bay. When I was here last I only had a snapshot view of Tolo and today I plan to spend the afternoon here.
Tolo Beach or Psili Ammos is a golden sand beach dotted with tamarisk trees. It has water access facilities for people with disabilities and also a life guard tower. I won’t get chance to sample the waters today but it does look as though it shelves gently making it a great location for children. The beach appears relatively sheltered with a short promentory curving around to the left and the islets of Romvi and Dakalio to the right. I’d read that the bay of Tolo or Asini had in the past been used as a secondary port to Nafplio because it offers safe harbour.
Back on the road that backs the beach you get a sense from the buildings that Tolo is definitely a holiday town with a bit of residential. Many of the businesses along the front are associated with tourism in the form of travel agencies, boat tour operators, bars and taverna’s. It isn’t long before I arrive at the beginning of the roadworks. It looks pretty major and I daresay the shop owners and local businesses are suffering from a certain level of disruption. On the other hand I don’t doubt that although it looks pretty gruesome at the moment, the building works will be complete (hopefully before the season starts) and you’d never know what went on before.
I scouted out the two hotels that we use in Tolo and it was definitely useful to get a sense of where they are in proximity to the beach. Realistically you’d never be far from the beach in Tolo but the village does climb ampitheatrically from the back of the beach and beyond. A useful thing to know as one of the hotels are located up a sloping road overlooking the bay and the other is right on the beach. The more knowledge you can give to your clients the better.
At the end of the bay there is the small port of Tolo. This is where the seasonal excursions to Spetses and Hydra depart from. There really is a beautiful outward looking view across the bay of Tolo from here. I take a slow walk back along the beach and try and soak up the essence of the place which isn’t entirely possible out of season. From the little bit that I’ve seen of Tolo, I do want to come back and spend more time here. This looks like the perfect place to spend some beach time.
Now I have to try and find the bus stop to take me back. Having disembarked from the bus before it reached the centre of Tolo – or as far as the roadworks permitted I don’t know where the bus stop is. However, somewhere along the main road behind the beach seems like a sensible place to look. It isn’t long before I see a lampost with the KTEL sign and a bus timetable. I can see that a bus due in about twenty minutes which is great timing. After standing at the bus stop for about ten minutes I noticed an elderly lady talking to a young man from her balcony. The man looked as though he had just taken delivery of some packages but I thought no more about it. Two minutes later the man came over to me to ask if I was waiting for the bus. When I told him that I was, he told me that he doesn’t think that the bus will stop here. Because of the road works, the bus stop has been moved up onto the main road above Tolo. He very kindly gave me directions to find the other bus stop. I’m really greatful for the vigilence of the lady on her balcony. I found myself in panic mode as the bus wa due in less than ten minutes and they aren’t very regular. He told me not to worry because the buses are always late!
I climb the steep street that takes me above the town speed walking as fast as I can. I’m unsure as to where the bus stop is exactly but a friendly couple ofloading their car of shopping pointed me in the right direction. At the junction of a crossroads I noticed a roofless bus shelter which marks the spot. The young man was right. The bus is late but it does eventually arrive and that’s all that matters.
Back in Nafplio, amazingly I still have some energy left to continue walking for a while. As the sun sets behind the mountains beyond Bourtzi Castle, I take the Arvanitia coastal path along the back of the beach and back into the old town where I have dinner. Being here is so easy.