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suggestions for day tour with guide out of Nafplio to see Mycenae and Epidaurus?

We're currently planning to rent a car while staying in Nafplio so we can drive to see Mycenae and Epidaurus. But perhaps my husband, designated trip driver, would enjoy the day more if someone else drove. Also thinking we would get more from the sites with a guide. Has anyone done a similar day trip from Napflio that they can recommend?

I was looking at this company: LandLifeTravel, https://www.landlifetravel.com/ which has such a day tour. Has anyone used this company? The tour description says a 'tour leader' is included but a 'licensed guide' is excluded. I realize guides in Greece are government licensed. So wondering does this mean the tour leader does not accompany us while at the sites but just provides background en route? It seems better to have a guide accompany us at the sites.

Posted by
2812 posts

No no no do not fall for this, there are many many companies with similar offers. You have guessed exactly right. for €180 each = €360 -- you're basicially buying a taxi driver who will deliver a spiel en route & hand you brochures. You need something with a licensed guide. During my FIRST trip to Nafplio, many moons ago, a local travel agent ran a day tour w. licensed guide ... but no more (their excuse is that most visitors come from Athens in a group that already has a licensed guide, or come off a ship in a group, with a licensed guide. Phooey).

Here's your answer -- VIATOR -- offers licensed guides in Athens and a number of other major sites (Delphi, Olympia, Nafplio). I clicked on Nafplio -- https://tourguides.viator.com/Listing.aspx?Country=Greece&Region=Argolida&City=Nafplio. There's a list of 11 but most of them live in Athens ... you want people who live in Nafplio -- there are 2 on the list; look for "Primary." both have good reviews. When you click "Learn more" it gives their background & training ... very informative. Usual charge is €50 per hour for 2-4 people so you could get 6 productive hours for less than the link you listed (add €35-40 for car rental for the day). This kind of Guide will truly enrich your day ... and will NOT include irrelevant stops at pottery studios or souvenir shops, as many group tours do (for Kickbacks, I am sure). With this experience, you can call the shots ... maybe even go to Nemea (look it up! -- http://nemeangames.org/ancient-nemea/excavations-ucb.html) ... and on the road to Epidaurus, make a 10 minute stop by the roadside to see the World's OldesT arched BRidge in continuous Use --http://www.ermioni.info/kazarma -- (Bronze age! - 3500 years old!). As VIATOR instructs, u contact guide directly & discuss interests. This is definitely the way to go!

Posted by
7496 posts

We had a car in Napflion and toured all the antiquities by ourselves. I don't think you need a fuide. Bring a Michelin Green Guide and you'll be fine. You will drive through olive and citrus groves. A pleasant and nice landscape but nothing so amazing that the driver would be missing out. Go to the Mycenae, Epidavros, Tyrins, and Ancient Nemea. All are very worthwhile. While in Napflion we also drove south a short distance and took a water taxi across to Spetses, a pretty and very green , as opposed to the Cyclades, island. A real treat.

Posted by
396 posts

Thanks very much, Janet and Suki. We do travel independently and watch what we spend. It's good to know that we could have a quality experience using the Michelin Green Guide. A (person) guide will be a splurge, but since we may never be back in this area and I'm such an ancient history nut it may be a worthwhile expense for us. I wouldn't want to spend that kind of money on an inferior experience, however. Janet, thanks very much for the Viator reference; it looks perfect.

Posted by
935 posts

Mycenea and Epidavrous are something you can do on your own with a rental car, cost of admission and research on your part. Save yourself a lot of money, go at your own pace and get more bang for your buck with a do it yourself tour.

A guided tour will be convenient but you'll be waiting for stragglers, dumb questions and wasting time.

However, that's me . . . do what's best for you but do it yourself is more gratifying and rewarding!

Posted by
2812 posts

Tommy K, I agree with you, and so does the OP, Lia... so she is NOT considering a guided tour. The Viator website provides licensed guides right in the area who take you round for an agreed-upon hourly charge -- more $$ than a group tour of 20+, but none of the drawbacks you mention.

Posted by
396 posts

One of my favorite pastimes is reading and learning about ancient civilizations. Engaging a guide, for me, is sort of like someone else visiting Ferrari and paying for a drive on the test track, because they're such an enthusiast : ) I really appreciate the different points of view you've all provided on this thread. Not sure what we will do as it is a lot of money but you've given me better information than I had to make a decision. I'm envisioning the scenario more clearly now, and the pros and cons. I appreciate your time and thoughts.

Posted by
935 posts

Just wanted to give an alternative way to experience Greece on your own. Not saying I am right or wrong but thought the more options one has the better decision you can make.

Right now I'm on the island of Chios and while there are a lot of tours being offered I'm doing it on my own after doing my research I'm discovering more and doing more on my own.

So do what's best for you whether its an organized tour or a more satisfying do it yourself trip!


Posted by
2812 posts

Lia, why didn't you tell us that in the first place? Were you seeing if we could guess what was in your mind? No fair! Now that we know your love of learning & prep, it's a whole different story. Also, it helps us when you "Recap" information supplied on previous threads -- so we don't have to hunt back to get key information. Burrowing into your backlist, I now find that you are planning to go in June 2018, so you'll have plenty of time to read up. I also find that I recommended a number of Guides & references to you, back in July, and that you say that (like me) you want materials that have more "evaluative content" than just logistics -- where to rent cars, what busses/trains to take etc. For the benefit of other "new readers", Lia currently has Rough Guide, Lonely PLanet, Blue GUide, Cadogan's guide & Michelin Green Guide. If you do enough digging on this, I think you'll have plenty of material to enjoy those sites on your own. I also think many people enjoy t aking the BUS from Athens to Nafplio, spending 1-2 days just enjoying the Old Town & surroundings, then only renting a car when you want to go farther -- to Mycenae and Epidaurus plus Tiryns, NEMEA, an overlooked gem, and Asine... a darling little cove beach right by the ruins).

I'm sure I gave you the Superb noncommercial Nafplio Website before - http://www.visitnafplio.com and the fab photo album by our Ace photog-poster, "Stanbr" - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/ for the area. For NEMEA, this website tells about the revived Games PLUS all archeology - http://nemeangames.org Also fine links on TIRYNS, which is just 10 minutes outside of Nafplio - https://hubpages.com/travel/palace-of-tiryns and ASINE - http://www.ermioni.info/tolo-asine I find this "secret beach" (also called Kastraki) a wonderful finale to a day of ruins-rambling. 2 small cove beaches, 1 sandy 1 rocky, a friendly taverna perched just above, where u can change in the restroom... swim & Sun, then enjoy sunset and a fine fish dinner.

Tips re the others: MYCENAE - get there before 9, because flocks of tour busses arrive about 10; go to Museum first, helps to orient you. EPIDAURUS - arrival time not as critical, because site is so big & spread-out, crowds not as much of a factor. MAIN thing is theatre ... the rest of acreage is rubble not that well-signaged... and museum not notable; best pieces are in Athens museum. But as noted before, don't miss the ancient Mycenaean bridge by roadside, en route.

Posted by
2812 posts

A P.S. in regards to prep & learning about ancient civs .... there ARE some notable works of historical fiction that can really put you back into the Golden age, and into pre-history. I don't mean those "ladies novels" - romance with columns in the background -- I mean serious works of Authentic knowledge ... by Mary Renault, true works of art based on deep research, yet full of passion and strong narrative. For each, the author gives a Afterword citing the exact historical background. I reccomend:
• THE KING MUST DIE - A must for visitors to Crete ... the Theseus legend brought to vivid life, with the Minoan civilization and prehistory Athens, its art, violence, cruelty and mystery. A real page-turner!
• LAST of the WINE - set in Athens at its height, early in Peloponnese War - illuminates society, learning, emotions, military, more...
• The PRAISE SINGER - The "Bardic Tradition" of gifted men whose "banquet entertainment" was dawn of Western literature.
• The MASK of APOLLO - Seen thru a player's eyes, the birth of Theatre; a story that will make Epidaurus deeply meaningful.
-- all these are available in paperback, great reading matter for ferries, beach, planes.

Posted by
396 posts

Thanks very much for all of the great references! Over the past few months, when I'm not reading travel guides and websites, I've been bingeing on Greek and Crete history; a lot of fun for me because it's a lifelong interest.

I had an experience in Rome, in the main forum of all places, where we had a guide but the tour information was pretty basic. You can imagine that was a bit disappointing after dreaming of visiting Rome my entire life. So I'm trying to be more careful about visualizing the visit at sites that really interest me and making sure I get the experience I was after. No guarantees, I understand. I read the Green Guide on Epidarus and Mycenae the other night; I'm looking for more detail beyond what i read there. I'll do additional reading to see what else is available.

Posted by
2812 posts

Re "Lifelong interest" -- Lia, we were separated at birth! At age 17, in my Indianapolis branch library, I stumbled upon the Loeb edition of the "Greek Anthology" (all of those poems, epitaphs, graffiti, etc that were "discovered" & collected during the renaissance) ... fell in love with Greece on the spot ... SO much more interesting than the boring Roman Aeniad I was laboring thru in Latin IV. I vowed to go there, but Life Got in the Way. Over the decades, I pored over books on Greek art, archeology and architecture. Finally made that trip in my 60s -- and found all that I'd studied thru the years, plus what I didn't expect -- falling in love with the Greeks of today. The friendliness, humor, love of nature, love for the past, but living in the moment ... irresistible. Read about their struggle against Ottoman oppression for centuries, their fierce resistance (unlike the collaborating french) to the Nazi conquerers ... inspiring, saddening. Today's political ups & downs may be disconcerting, but past heroism unforgettable. (When in Athens do NOT miss the Melina Mercouri Foundation -- has a thrilling photo-rama of the career and courage of this great artist/patriot ... the whole city turned out for her funeral cortege ... and she's memorialized in Marble on a main avenue).

BTW, does your Columbus mean ohio, or Indiana? Or other? Whichever, I highly recommend recent "art-house" movie of same name -- set in that remarkable Hoosier town full of amazing modern architecture.

Posted by
396 posts

Sorry for the late reply - we were away for a long weekend. I live in Columbus, OH. I get a little eye rolling from the family at times over my interests but they mostly just seem amused : ) I completely agree that any knowledge you bring on the trip will increase your enjoyment. I love the thrill of the recognition and ensuing enjoyment of some not-so-obvious facet of a sight. It seems to connect you to long ago. I thought I might read 'The Greek Runner' to get additional background on WWII in Crete.

Posted by
2812 posts

The book is actually "The Cretan Runner" ... and since written by a GREEK, not a Brit, is a better reflection of the Cretan resistance to Nazi invasion/occupation. For overview of this heroic effort, here's a great blog -- http://greekodyssey.typepad.com/my_greek_odyssey/2006/11/the_battle_of_c_2.html The more one learns about the bravery and stoic suffering under this cruel occupation, the more one is in Awe. What I warn you against are the memoirs or novels about the British contingent -- those left behind in the mountains and sheltered/protected by civilians. The Brits -- led by Oxford/Cambridge grads -- organized the kidnapping of the Nazi General commanding the occupation. While it created great "PR" for the Allied countries, it was done as a Daring "caper" by these upper-class boarding-school boys, apparently with no thought as to the consquences for civilians. The Cretan mayors, etc, had finally managed a make-shift "modus vivendi" with their occupiers -- but the abduction of the General resulted in widespread assassinations of random village populations, including the burning down of churches where men women & children had sought refuge. I have links to an unbearably poignant group of photos (taken by a Wehrmacht photographer who could not live with himself, and who released the pix after the war) ... it shows German troops rounding ALL the men of a village and killing them all in a mass execution. One look would inoculate you against any narrative of Brit "heroics" led by privileged twits.

Incidentally, this link - http://greekodyssey.typepad.com/my_greek_odyssey/archives.html - is an absolute treasure-trove! It has listings in all imaginable Greek categories, of not only Blogs but outstanding books on all subjects Greek. Knock yourself out!