We spent a day in Gythion planning for our next few days in Greece. A long day interspersed with food breaks, we chatted to Millia who worked at our hotel who gave us some direction, the loveliest little old Greek lady you could meet, with a charming smile, kind eyes, and a dirty laugh! Nothing was a bother for her and she was keen to help us out and joke with us.
Leaving Gythion, we caught the bus to Sparta, a warrior city in Ancient Greece back in the day. With thunderstorms forecasted for later that evening, we headed out on the first bus available to Sparta. After settling in and sorting through our bags (I had decided to offload some unnecessary weight and send some clothes back to England which made my rucksack easier to carry) and a walk around Sparta to explore and get our daily dose of Gyros (a delicious pitta filled with chicken, salad, sauce and chips) the sky clouded over and the rain began.
Thinking it would ease off, we remained in the central square eating, but soon realised as the rain got heavier and more insistent and the skies got darker, we would have to brave the heavy downpour and run back to the hotel. Soaking wet but relieved to be in the dry safety of our hotel, the thunder and lightning began, and continued throughout the night and into the hours of the morning.
With clear skies we visited the ruins of The Ancient Theatre of Sparta the following day. A little walk from our hotel felt longer in the blazing heat. A cobbled pathway led to the entrance of the ruins where olive groves were abundant and continued to grow magnificently. Visiting out of season we had the whole place to ourselves and it was amazing to wander around the ruins and picture what life was like back in Ancient Sparta. The theatre ruins have a great atmosphere as you stand where the stage would have been. The seating and viewing area now covered in shrubs, grasses and rocks, is still impressive. Above the seating level are impressive panoramic views of central Sparta, the remaining ruins and a mountainous backdrop.
Our next stopping point on the map later that evening was Mystras, a small village near a beautiful and strong medieval fortress, and a 6km walk from Sparta with our backpacks. With stunning scenery all the way, it made the hour walk worthwhile and we could definitely appreciate our surroundings more than a 10-minute-taxi ride. With an appetite worked up we ate in the small cobbled, restaurant lined village, and camped under the starry night falling asleep to the lulling sound of crickets.
An early morning rise, we hiked our way up to Mystras Castle, with the sun rising for company. With the town still sleeping, and too early for tourists, we were able to enjoy the slow and sloping walk up. The ruins of the castle, together with the breathtaking landscapes are wonderful; beautiful architecture including churches and monasteries, stone-built houses and mansions, and intricate frescos (watercolour paintings directly on the plastered walls) reveal the Byzantine history and its glorious past.