I am not a morning person. Back at home in the U.S., if I can sleep until noon on a weekend, I totally will. But here in Nafplio, that is beginning to change because every morning I am excited to wake up and take in the beauty of the Mediterranean coast by hiking along the Aegean Sea.
The other morning, the entire class woke up early and scaled Palamidi, the fortress that overlooks the city of Nafplio. Nine hundred and ninety nine steps all the way up to the top of the fortress at the break of dawn- that’s no small feat! But, we all made it with the help of Professor Sidossis’ encouragement “anyone can climb any mountain, you just have to set your own pace.” We also got some much needed support from our new furry friend, a small dog who followed us all the way up and down the mountain. No wonder why everyone is so relaxed in Nafplio, friendly community dogs just follow you everywhere to cheer you up!
But my favorite early morning hikes are with a smaller group, a few of us who brave the lack of caffeine and the chill in the olive-scented air to trek up mountains while it is still dark and observe amazing sunrises at their peaks.
This morning had to be my favorite hike of the entire trip. The “Sunrise Crew” was well on their way before light began to peak over the edge of the Aegean Sea. We had seen our destination from the Palamidi Fortress, but had to explore a bit to find our way and scope out the perfect location to watch the sunrise. And we definitely found it. After traversing through a forest of cacti we happened upon the ruins of an old olive oil mill. Jutting out of the side of the mountain was a stone platform, the roof of what we thought was the olive oil maker’s underground quarters. Tenderly navigating through the prickly obstacle course of cacti, we made our way to the stone platform and looked out as the sun rose over the sea. Taking a quiet moment to enjoy the beauty of Nafplio’s coast is a ridiculously amazing start to my day.
Noticing the change in my attitude towards mornings has really made me realize that I am actually adapting the Mediterranean Lifestyle as I learn about it. According to our course, the Mediterranean Lifestyle involves outdoor, convivial activity that is integrated into one’s daily life. These quiet, daybreak adventures with the “Sunrise Crew” really highlights there principles.