Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Nafplio - and 3,000 years of architecture

The Hotel Kapodistrias was not a bad choice at all in the end. OK - so it's an old building renovated in a way that would probably make Marky’s hair curl, but it's still retained a lot of its old look, to the point of looking authentic were it not for all the plastic paints used. I have a feeling that the hotel is located on narrow street leading up to the rooms we used to rent, which means it was renovated in the last few years. There was nothing looking like this on the way up to the rooms we used to rent.

Needless to say, both days we started late... The first day we just grabbed an overpriced tyropita and headed off for Lerna via the Nea Kios road, which I had never been on in the past and wanted to see. Hmm. Not much to see, really. At Lerna, the same old guy who’s been there every single time was there to greet us, and the orange trees around were all heavily laden with their fruits, some of which had already fallen to the soil. Twenty cents is all the farmers are getting for the oranges - terrible, it’s more worth their while to leave them on the tree. Couple that with the fact that it hadn't rained yet this year, so the oranges will be more sour than sweet due to lack of water and it’s not looking good for the agriculturalists of the Argolid.

The old man was fun to talk to about how the site is going but when he got on to what the new government is going to do, I decided that that was enough small talk and it was time to change the subject. This was not so much a function of being with K, but I am no longer all geared up for telling local people that the new government is great and what have you, I am no longer that naïve. They are all the same shit. It is just a case of whose faces one can bear to see in the windows on telly every day.

I walked K round the fortifications, we passed the Neolithic house of Lerna II and went on through to the herringbone masonry with the mudbricks at the back of the site. I learnt the Greek for herringbone masonry, but I'll be buggered if I can remember it now. We then walked over to the successive MH apsidal houses, and round the house of tiles past the better preserved part of the tumulus, doing my little "and right here is where building BG is!!" bit on the way. Then into the shelter and walk round the hose of tiles explaining why it is so called, etc. Nice spotting of the imprinted reeds on the roof clays, I have photographed them in the past, but had forgotten about them that day.

So... I haven’t been to Lerna ever in the winter and I haven’t been to Lerna for probably five years or more. The site is looking a little worse for wear in strange way. Some of it is I am sure connected to the season, but other bits are most probably connected to the conservation choices made originally, straight after the excavation.

In many places, most noticeably around the MH apsidal buildings out by the east end of the site, the cement used to keep all the bits in place has been undercut by rainwater and is now floating in the air in places. Looks really shitty. The mudbricks under the (modern) ceramic tiles have lost their definition - I remember they were all very well defined little rectangles, but now on some bits of wall, you cannot tell they are bricks at all: they look like a mud-massif structure. What’s happening at the MH apsidal houses is also the case for the bits of the tumulus as well. It made me sad - so I did not photograph any of this. Moving on - inside, the house of tiles looked a little battered compared to my mind's eye remembrance. I have even downloaded some excavation photos from the relevant part of the Dartmouth site just to check. There is no easy explanation for me as to how it could have become dog-eared under the shelter. It may have been the lighting or something else - it just seemed shabbier to me. I have no way of checking on this, though. Not unless I get old pictures out and start comparing, and all.

The crates with the bones in them has gone - the friendly guy on the ticket box told me the archaeologists had taken them away - about bloody time, if you ask me.

After Lerna we scooted off to the newly named Aghia Triada, formerly called Merbakas, to have a look at the sweet and funky church of the dormition of the BVM, which has Gothic influences in its architecture. After a nice argument with K about whether or not it does have gothic influences, neither of us managing to convince the other, we called it quits and were happy just to circumambulate the building a few times, each time noticing something more exciting in the way the church had been built or decorated.

After Merbakas we went off to Tiryns to show K the two tholoi there, which she had not seen. She liked these more than all the fallen in ones we had chased back in March 2003. Quite right too. The Tiryns Tholos brought back memories of Charlie - and that day we had all run up to the top of the chamber and had our photo session. Seems just like no time ago at all, but Charlie’s been gone for about four and a half years now.

And after Tiryns, and a mutual agreement to do the dam some other day, we returned for some shopping and food to Nafplio.

The second day, will be described later...

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