The trip was great, despite the fact that the car gave up. I’ll start at the beginning. Left the BSA at 10.30am on Saturday and picked up hire car at store opposite the Hilton in Kolonaki. I had to navigate in Athens and succeeded with no mistakes, A was driving and didn’t get honked at or make me and L, who’s a friend of A’s from when he was doing his PhD, shout at him.
Made the trip up to Thermopylae with no problems, had lunch at a seaside town, fabulous views out over a gulf. Went to the ancient battlefield, and saw the modern monuments erected in memory of the Spartans. Then I drove up the mountain and back down again, we went up to about 3000 feet, the views were spectacular, although I only looked at them when we stopped in random lay bys, seemed to get used to the controls easily, I’m certain I can drive without bother later in the summer.
We also went to this amazing gorge…which they think the Persians may have used when Thermopylae was fought. Got some great pictures. We then went back to the same town we were in for lunch, got a hotel. Had an ice cream and watched the sun set over the gulf, bright red!
Then we went for a drink at another seaside bar and then wandered along the front to check out restaurants…then we found a fun fair. Went on the ferris wheel, great views and the dodgems. After that went back to hotel to sleep.
SHad breakfast on the coast and watched the fish swimming in the water below. We then went to the hotsprings at Thermopylae…really hot..and they stank. But was very relaxing to soak the feet in them. Then we went up another mountain to look another battle sites from the Persian invasions, parked to take some pictures and when we tried to drive the car again…the gears just wouldn’t take. The clutch had gone and we were 2500 feet up. Rang the car hire company and they gave us instructions to get a tow. We knew exactly where we were, but a couple of locals drove past and told the tow truck the local instructions for getting to us. They said it would be an hour til they could reach us and it was bang on.
Then came the fun part, the tow was a flatbed truck so the car sat on that. There wasn’t enough room in the tow’s cab, so me and A ended up seated in the car on the back of this truck to get down the mountain. Don’t worry it was securely tied on! The extra height meant we could see much further. Got to the tow’s office and got in touch with the car company only to discover that they had no replacement vehicles in our area, and only one in Athens unfortunately with no way of getting it to us. Since we had booked for 2 days hire, they are only charging us for one and paying the transport costs for getting us back to Athens. Got to the station and caught the bus back to Athens, it was a good journey…managed to sleep which was needed at this point. Got off at the station where we get the bus to Thebes and got a taxi back to the school. Since by this point we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, went out to Ciao with another resident at the school called Lu.
Ok…now for Sparta. Eventually got out of the city, went via every single back street you could think of. And set off south, nice drive down…though really hot…think 40 degrees with humidity. Had lunch en-route and arrived in sparta about 5 ish. Saw the spartan acropolis, got some good pictures and then had some dinner and a few drinks.
Next day we went up to a site dedicated to Menelaus and wandered around there. There were a bunch of people up there, they had been there all night for the religious festival of St Louis and we ended up having lunch with them…slightly surreal. But the food was great and they had some really cold beer. Then we went to the Museum in Sparta and then headed north back towards Athens. Stopped off at Corinth on the way back. Had a look at the site and museum there. We got back into athens about 9 and went to the Plaka for dinner – at the crepe restaurant and then went back to the school to sleep.