Epidaurus and then on to Poros – and a Strange Coincidence!

We meet Magnus and breakfast again.  We confirm plans to meet at the bus station the follow day to catch the bus to Galatas.

Today we are visiting Epidaurus by bus.  The Peloponnese really does have an excellent bus service and I hope that my series of posts demonstrates  that you don’t need to hire a car to get around.  It may not get you to some of the off the beaten track locations but so far the buses have served us very well.

Epidaurus is only 45 minutes away on the bus and leaves three times a day.  We decide on the earlier bus with the notion that the earlier we get there, the more chance we have of missing the tour buses.

It is a pleasant journey and the bus delivers us directly to the Epidaurus complex.  The entrance fee is 12€ per person and includes access to the archaeological site which includes the ancient threatre, the Sanctuary of Asklepios and to the museum.  By the entrance there is a cafe with toilet facilities so everything that you need for your visit.

We head directly up the stone steps to the ampitheatre.  We had struck up conversation with a Canadian lady on the bus.  She was travelling alone around Athens and a couple of the island but told us that Epidaurus was to be the highlight of her trip.  She had rehearsed a passage from Euripides especially for the occasion.

It is hard to believe that this theatre was built to seat 14,000 people.  We make our way to the top to take in the view of the theatre and the surrounding countryside.  Our travel companion asks us to take some photo’s and video’s of her whilst she takes her spot on the stage which we are happy to do.  As we had arrived there early there was only a short queue of individuals wanting to do the same.  This inspires Peter to jump into the hot seat too.  He didn’t come with anything prepared but decides to recite the Lord prayer in Arabic!

Although it is spring it is still hot leading up to midday so we beat a hasty retreat to the Sanctuary of Asklepion where there is some shade from scatterings of pine trees.  The smell of pine and the spring flowers is heaven.

The Asklepion is basically a health spa or wellness centre.  Different areas are clearly identified from hospitals for the sick, dwellings for the priest-physicians, and hotels and amusements for its visitors.

Just past the museum, are the remains of Greek baths and a huge gymnasium with scores of rooms leading off a great colonnaded court.  In its centre the Romans built an odeon. To the southwest is the outline of the stadium used for the ancient games, while to the northeast, a small sanctuary of Egyptian gods suggests a strong influence on the medicine used at the site.

Close to the stadium are the foundations of the Temple of Asklepios.  Patients would sleep here to await a visitation from the healing god, commonly believed to assume the form of a serpent. The deep significance of the serpent at Epidaurus is elaborated in the circular Tholos, one of the best-preserved buildings on the site. Its inner foundation walls form a labyrinth, thought to have been used as a snakepit.

The final part of our trip is to visit the small but interesting museum which describes the development of medical knowledge and the cures used at the Asklepion.

This brings us to the end of our day out at Epidaurus – definitely worth the visit.  We had timed everything to catch the mid afternoon bus back to Nafplio.

From the bus I gaze out of the window and spot an unusually shaped cloud above us in the shape of a bird with outstretched wings.  I think freedom is calling.

Back at Nafplio we have our final meal at To Omorfo Tavernaki – a veritable feast!

This trip to Nafplio, albeit very brief has been enlightening.  The place has left it’s mark on me and I know I will be back.

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After breakfast we just have time for another wander around the town before catching the bus to Galatas.  Sometimes it is easier just to cut the ties first thing in the morning – lingering makes the departure even harder.

Later that day we meet Magnus at the bus station.  The bus is on time and soon we are on our way to Galatas where we will make the short crossing over to Poros – my first time back in 24 years.  Magnus will be  leaving the bus before we reach Galatas – somewhere near Troezen but there isn’t an official bus stop there.  Magnus tells the driver that he will signal to him as we approach the place where he wants to be dropped.  The landmark will be a refuse bin where his brother in law will be picking him up and taking him to the family villa.

The bus tracks the same route to Epidauros that we had taken the day before.  When we reach Epidauros, some people disembark and jump onto another bus as the stop seems to serve as some kind of interconnection.

Once the bus sets off again Magnus says that he seems to have told us a lot about himself but hadn’t asked much about me and Peter.  I told Magnus that I worked in Economic Development for Manchester City Council.  “Oh”  says Magnus.  “I once met a man in a fish and chip shop in Manchester.  He worked for Manchester City Council.”  At first I didn’t think any more of this as the council is one of the city’s biggest employers.  Magnus then began to tell me that apart from travel and history, one of his other passions was nuclear disarmament.

As soon as he said this I had a feeling that I knew where this conversation was leading.  He continued to tell me that the man that he met in the fish and chip shop was involved in the Mayors for Peace programme.  I turned to him and asked him if the man he referred to was called Sean to which he replied in an almost state of shock -“Yes!”

So here we are on a bus in the Eastern Peloponnese – Magnus 40+ years in Hong Kong and me from a small village in Cheshire who find that we both know the same person from Manchester!  For several years Sean had worked in the same office as me – Economic Development at one end and City Policy at the other.  Sean and I both loved watching Scandinavian Drama or Nordic Noir as it’s called and would often chat to recommend or to review something that we had watched.

To cut a long story short, I have since kept in touch with Magnus.  Shortly after I returned back to the UK and before Magnus returned to Hong Kong he had a meeting with Sean and the Lord Mayor in Manchester and he came to stay with me for a few days.  We even plotted and planned a little business venture together based around escorted holidays to Greece – we had the business plan and lots of enthusiasm.  Although the intention was there, the logistics of operating a business where the partners were in opposites sides of the world wasn’t really going to happen.  However, life for me took a slightly different turn!

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