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Greece, Sparta – This is Sparta! (And Mystras)

View Of Nafplio - Nafplio Greece

View Of Nafplio – Nafplio Greece

Post By Vicky with [commentary in italics in brackets by Dave]

Beautiful Bourtzi

My day to drive [buckles seat belt]. First stop – the beach. Nothing like a casual morning swim to start off the day. No time to lose tanning though. We had lots to see. After checking out of yet another lovely Greek hotel we were off to Bourtzi castle. By boat though – it’s located in the harbor. The castle itself is small but it’s worth the short boat ride.

Bourtzi Fortress - Nafplio Greece

Bourtzi Fortress – Nafplio Greece

After a lunch of pastichio (traditional Greek lasagna) and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) we bade farewell to Nafplio and were on our way to Sparta. To see our route click here. As D had noticed the day before the car brakes were incredibly sensitive and took some getting used to, although as the only seat belt wearers on the road I wasn’t worried about us being flung through the windshield. Having read horror stories about driving in Greece, I was prepared to be scared. But, aside from the terrifying $9.25 per gallon gas prices it wasn’t so bad. I would just try to pull over to the side of the road the instant I saw a car in my rear view mirror. And it worked every time [and she did it…every… time]. I certainly wasn’t ready to be pressured into driving 150 km on 1 lane windy roads with 90 degree [more like 160 degree] turns up the side of the mountain. Luckily there weren’t many cars on the roads I had to yield the way to.

Unfortunately there isn’t really anything left of Sparta. Not even enough ruins for your imagination to fill in the rest of the picture. If not for the sign you wouldn’t know where you were [new facebook pic!].

Sparta Acropolis - Sparta Greece

Sparta Acropolis – Sparta Greece

Mystical Mystras

Fortunately the condition of Mystras more than makes up for what’s missing in Sparta. Although fairly modern in comparison with other ancient ruins (it was built in the 13th century) the site is fascinating. And huge [is this even a sentence?]. There is a lower section where you buy your ticket and start the tour and then you can drive up to see the upper section. In the upper section you can walk down to see the Palace and other structures or climb up to the Castle.

Mystras Palace - Mystras Greece

Mystras Palace – Mystras Greece

Since we were losing daylight fast and I was not ready for the adrenaline rush of night time driving we had to pick one of the two. Can you guess which one I chose? Well climbing up to the Castle of course – to be followed with groans by D [groans were next day actually, in the moment I was fine]. It was a great view from the top and certainly not cluttered with swarms of tourists – we were the only ones there.

Mystras View - Mystras Greece

Mystras View – Mystras Greece

From there we drove to our last hotel – Hotel Mani in Areopoli. The website hadn’t provided an address so I emailed the hotel directly. The response – the town has no streets names nor house numbers and the hotel can be found next to the gas station [to be fair the hotel WAS next to the gas station]. Hmm…. Can you guess the size of this village? With a population of only 1000 there were surprisingly more than enough tavernas and cafes to choose from [the crisis hasn’t made it’s way to Areopoli yet]. After dinner we walked around the small picturesque village, where entire families were out on the town – the children playing soccer in the square and the parents and friends sitting at the bordering cafes. Definitely a quaint little town.

Post By Vicky with [commentary in italics in brackets by Dave]

Want to read more about our trip to Greece?
Day 1: Greece, Santorini – The Arrival and Finding Your Way
Day 2: Greece, Santorini – Volcano Tour and Hot Springs
Day 3: Greece, Santorini – Frolicking Through Fira
Day 4: Greece, Athens – Conquering The Capital
Day 5: Greece, Athens – More Monuments!
Day 6: Greece, Corinth – Making Our Way To Mycenae, Argos And Nafplio
Day 7: Greece, Sparta – This is Sparta! (And Mystras)
Day 8: Greece Kardamyli – First Diros Caves, Then Messene Ruins

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