Monday, 25 August 2014

Five Things I Learned In Nafplio

1. A thorough familiarity with Greek letters from a career in maths is actually very helpful in pronouncing - albeit very slowly - words written in Greek. Of course everyone we interacted with in this tourist town spoke English, and pronouncing a word almost never meant understanding what the hell it meant, but still; proof that my last sixteen years haven't been completely wasted.  The fact that this took sixteen years to demonstrate in the first place, required travel to a foreign country four hours flight away, and ultimately resulted in practically no actual benefits to communication, is something I choose to ignore.

2. Swimming in the Ionian Sea is wonderfully relaxing, even when the beach you're just off has had a speaker system installed to boom out pop music whilst you splash around. That said, there are a few too many fried-egg jellyfish floating about for comfort - hearing them described as having the second-least painful sting in the Mediterranean isn't as reassuring as one might think when actually faced with them - and it turns out that even the smallest and friendliest of saltwater fish can start to freak you out if they spend enough time lazily circling you as you tread water.

3. Greek Orthodox weddings have a lot to recommend them, whether it's forcing the happy couple to smooch a book, or waving a large sparkly whisk in their faces which is then separated into two circlets for them each to wear.  Further fun can be had by requesting an English translation, which the young priest at the church attempted very gamely, but with desperately little success. I don't blame him for a minute; I haven't a clue what a "celebrant" even is, still less the first idea as to how to pronounce it in Greek. The ceremony concludes with the throwing of rice, which is encouraged irrespective of one's aiming skills nor one's proximity to the bride and groom.  Friendly fire was a real problem; thank God Fliss and I were standing at the edge of the congregation, as far from the crowd's firing solution (and, you know, God) as possible.

4. The Greeks have a local delicacy - which we were utterly unable to pronounce - that consists of a triple-sized Tunnock's teacake with the marshmallow replaced with chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce, and chopped nuts.  It tastes a bit like Death by Chocolate studded with Ferrero Rocher, and look far too much like chocolate boobies for us to call them anything else.

5. Speaking of local delicacies, like Slovenia, Nafplio has precisely two local beer options for the weary traveller.  There's Fix, which is a very light lager with a bit of sweetness to it, and Mythos, which is an entirely respectable lager that I basically drank for the name alone. I like to think every bottle consumed gains me further favour with Cthulhu and his dark kin, which is obviously why I so disgustingly abused the open bar on my first night there. Sure, I could have remained sober to drink in my first experience of Grecian life, but would that have saved my skin when the stars are finally right?  It would not.

Completely unaltered, obviously


Tomsk said...

The photo on Facebook - is that Andy Teale you're standing next to?

SpaceSquid said...

That it be!

(Which reminds me, I should put up some of our photos. It certainly doesn't seem like I have time for anything else this month...)

Tomsk said...

My powers of observation are strong! I didn't know you knew each other. Not the world's hugest coincidence as we were all in Durham, but still there was a bit of a 'does not compute' moment.

SpaceSquid said...

If it makes you feel any better, I lived with his girlfriend.