We grind to a halt, lean forward and and slowly but surely roll our eyes towards the sky. In front stands the majestic Mount Taygetos towering above the village of Mystras. We step outside and the afternoon sun hits our faces, its warm, inviting and a beautiful day.
Within half an hour the sun starts to set behind the mountain and we head inside. Vin’s cupboards are stocked to bursting point as we spent most of the day shopping, stocking up on LPG, diesel and water. It feels good to have a selection of foods and Craig turns his hand to one of his many tasty culinary delights. Our bellies grumble as a sign of appreciation.
With full tummies we collapse on the sofa and check out some potential parking spots from Pete & Judy’s Greek map. Its not long and we are fast asleep like Mac n Tosh, nodding dogs.
Our sleepy spot: On a small patch of grass surrounded by orange trees and great views up to the mountains.
We wake to a few yapping dogs and complete darkness. As we glance at the clock, Craig jumps out of bed like a jack in a box. I on the other hand, groan and rollover to hog the warm bits and stick my head under the pillow for a few more snoozes. I was just drifting off when I heard the garage door open and Eor roll on to the ramps. With that I jumped up, got dressed, brushed my locks and we were off. Heading towards the Taygetos and Parnon mountains to watch the sunrise. It sure did not disappoint. The sun slowly lit up the plains the olive and citrus groves adding a dashes of colour through the drifting clouds and morning dew.
After breakfast, we took Mac n Tosh for a ‘so called’ quick walk. Several hours later we returned from our unexpected but extremely rewarding hike. The village of Mystras doesn’t really offer much in way of excitement, a handful of run down coffee shops, a closed museum and plenty cats asleep in plant pots.
We were just about to give up on the village and head back when an old chap shouted down from his balcony. Munching away on a fresh orange he proceeded to have a full blown Greek conversation with us. After about 5 minutes he realised we couldn’t understand a word he was saying. To which he shrugged his shoulders, smiled like a little school boy and chucked us a few ripe oranges from a nearby hanging branch.
Unbeknown to us we’d wandered to the end of a tiny alley. At the end of the alley, a dead end with another chap, this time clearing dried leaves and twigs. He said hello and asked “you have time to walk?” To which we replied, yes. “Then go, go this way, up here, keep going. This is a hidden ancient trail, it is amazing. You likey. Now go, yes, please”.
We followed his direction and walked in to what felt like his back garden before climbing up in to a forest area. We followed the overgrown path and kept going. You could see under the moss covered path ancient cobbled stones and every so often stone walls, crumbling archways, ancient aqueducts and the remains of small dwellings. For several hours we trekked along the tiny and overgrown forest trail, which took us up through a gorge and up to a small peak just below the Taygetos mountain.
It was one of the most beautiful forest trails with acorns, horse chestnut, wild berries and an array of forest foliage and flowers. Along the way we found a small, almost derelict church with a small stream and waterfall. All this topped off with stunning views across the valley. The trail continued all the way through the valley and up to the peak of the mountain, a interesting trek for anyone who fancies a couple of days off the beaten track.
After several hours, we popped out where we started, which still feels like the chaps back garden. We hoped to see the chap and thank him but he was no where to be seen.
On the way back to Vin, we passed an lovely Spartan statue with some beautiful detail on the shield. Craig’s a big Spartan film fan and he started to tell me about how they are famous for their courage. Shields were a big thing for the Spartans and from a young age, as young as 7, they were taught to fight and return with your shield or die. Pretty gruesome stuff when you think about what they had to endure from such a young age, no wonder they became tough buggers.
Mac n Tosh crashed out after their big walk, so we jumped back on Eor our little monkey bike and scooted down to Sparta (forgot the camera). We quickly zipped around the tourist sites before riding up and down the streets ladened with cafes, bars, shops and plenty bazaar ‘feel’ stores. Just before sunset, we headed back to Vin and moved a few kilometres up the hill slopes of Mystras to the car park at the entrance of Mystras historical site.
Our sleepy spot: Mystras site car park (only small) over looking the Sparta plains .