THIS IS SPARTAAAA!!!!!!

18th March 2018

Not quite the 300. More of a 3. But we were fairly intrepid. Having missed the fact it was a Sunday and not filled up with fuel we crawled over the mountain pass and down onto the plains beyond with the gauge advising that we had 20 miles left.

Where are we going. Sparta!!!

Still we were certain that the tiny, inconsequential village we were due to pass would have a 24hr petrol station (Rule 4). Population 12, Petrol Station 1. And so it turned out to be. In fact we almost had to queue behind a tractor.

The purpose of the journey was a deviation from climbing on a wet cloudy day to Mistras, a Byzantine Hill fort just outside the iconic Sparta. As it turned out, Sparta is pretty ordinary, but Mistras was anything but.

The view from Mistras to the Spartan plain

This was a proper tourist day. Mistras is a series of buildings covering a massive hill. Most people split the visit in two driving to an intermediate point, but we were in no rush so we walked the whole area. It takes about an hour to walk to the top, but the views are worth it. We even got glimpses of the snow covered peaks surrounding Sparta when the cloud broke.

Looking down the massive complex at Mistras

In the UK you wouldn’t be allowed within a mile of ancient murals like these.

Driving in Greece as a whole is pleasant. They’re not maniacs, but their roads are poorly marked leading to a lot of confusion and us almost getting wiped out on the return trip. Slow and steady wins the day.

Our final meal in Leonidio was at Pizzeria, a local and tasty restaurant at the end of our lane. We were lucky enough to bump into Eric and Andreas two inspirational climbers from Oslo. These guys were training for 8b+ no less. Unbelievable !  If  I walked away from Leonidio with anything it was the belief that it was possible for me to climb 7a. I just need to train and get myself in the right condition and frame of mind. Maybe that’s a target for me for 2019. We’ll see. It’s getting started and into routine.

I was also tipped off about Norwegian trad crag called Bohuslan. Listening to Andreas it seems Norway’s definitely worth a trip. There’s via Ferrara at Romsdalsstigan and Synshorn and loads of crags. Also it seems camping is ok so you can keep the price down. By all accounts it’s the car hire that is expensive. You Fly to molde or ålesund so now I need to do a bit of research.