Freshly Squeezed OJ and 999 steps in Napflion, Greece

Luther’s Malta and the Mediterranean Program, currently in its 27th year, offers students the opportunity to spend a semester exploring Malta's rich history and traveling to other countries in the Mediterranean region. Coursework includes Paideia II: Ethical Issues in the Mediterranean, a Service Learning class, where program participants teach English to recent immigrants to Malta, Maltese History and Culture and additional classes taken at the University of Malta.

To learn more about the program, visit the Malta Semester website.

When I imagined Greece, I did not imagine the bustling city of Athens. I pictured crisp white and blue houses speckled on a cliff overlooking a deep blue sea. So pretty much I thought Greece was all like Santorini, and I was mistaken. Although we didn’t take any trips to Greek islands, the little mountain town of Nafplion was cooler than we could have imagined.

 

We traveled the Greek countryside in a coach bus (riding in style). After a journey past the Corinth Canal and a stop a the mystical Mycenae ruins (see Zach’s blog post), we arrived in Nafplion. Nafplion was like a southern Italian coast town sprouted in the middle of Greece. Each street bled just as much Italian character as the last, with an intricate Greek twist.

 

We stayed in Hotel Mariana, which felt like a castle; Josie and I felt like queens. We woke up to complementary breakfast on the open air balcony overlooking the pastel colored town illuminated by the suns peaking rays. The faded mountainous layers painted the coastline. Could this be real life? You will have to pinch me. We even were able to squeeze our own refreshing orange juice- and it was honestly the most delicious OJ I have ever drank. It was definitely the icing on the cake. I am going to dream about that breakfast.

 

On our day trip to visit the Theatre of Epidaurus and the sanctuary ruins, we did something slightly illegal. Here is some background; When I signed up to run Grandma's half marathon in June 2019, I knew I would have to train in Malta. But this particular 'training' opportunity seems to stand out. When we were walking past the ancient stadium ruins, we a grand idea. We decided we would have a race- it would end up being a race we would never forget. A few of us lined up at the starting line behind the stone markers designated to mark our lanes. Long legged Wyatt, Zach in Birkenstocks, our tour guide Maria's daughter, myself (training for my half marathon), Professor Brooke and his two speedy and energetic boys. Josie blew the whistle and we were off! Sprinting through the ancient ruins while the spectators cheered on from the sidelines. I have never been a track runner, but I can imagine where they get their sudden burst of adrenaline. The crisp wind blew past my face and my legs moved faster and faster. After we gleefully crossed the finish line, we hear yelling come from on the top of the hill. Someone was yelling at Maria in Greek telling her that we are NOT supposed to run on the ruins. Whoops… a little late now! But I am so glad we did, even if it was a little bit against the rules.

 

Speaking of physical activity, we trekked up 999 steps to the castle on the highest point of Nafplion. Although an unexpected hailstorm postponed our hike, we thought it would be smarter to wait because we didn't want to lose someone to a strike of lightning. I decided I would speed walk up the steps for cross training 2.0. After 10 minutes of steps straight up to the sky, my lungs were working overdrive, and my quads were burning. The end was worth every second, it was the most breathtaking aerial view I had ever seen, and we were overcome with a sense of peace and tranquility. After the 999 steps to the base of the castle, we decided that we were committed to making it to the tip top (another 25 minutes of hiking)! When we arrived back on the ground, we looked down and our legs were shaking uncontrollably. A workout well done!

In addition, we enjoyed free time walking around the picturesque town of Nafplion and capturing the essence in photos so we would never forget our time in Nafpolin. We loved Nafploin!

 

P.S. Hotel Mariana may have given us five full bags of the juicy Nafplion oranges to take home with us (in addition to the many oranges we had stuffed in our pockets). They were seriously the best oranges I have ever had!

View from the breakfast balcony
Our castle room!
Some words of advice
The girls in Nafplion
A view worth 999 steps
We did it!
Walking down the 999 steps
Feeling exhausted after our hike
Freshly squeezed OJ