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Gythion ruins from ship

Gythion ruins from ship

It is always wonderful to return to Greece, and this is a new place to me. Gythio: translation from the Greek, God’s Place, referring to the mythological Gods. P1040176This is an ancient port city and has an archealogical site and well-preserved theater. References to the port go back as far as 400 A.D. For some reason, though, instead of exploring this area, we were determined to reach Mystras.

Something unique to cruising is the propensity to look for the most

unique experience at each stop. If we were staying along this coastline, we could take our time, eat the food, visit with people, and enjoy the atmosphere. Today, however, we were just plotting the easiest and least expensive way to reach the 13th century ruins of Mystras. We had heard that a bus ran regularly and so we wandered from the small port into the sleepy little town. When the bus schedule didn’t match ours, we joined with three other people and squished into a cab with a delightful English-speaking driver.

From the CastleWe drove through olive groves and small towns and then passed through Sparta and began to climb. Bless our driver, he delivered us to the TOP entrance to Mystras so that we could take the steep and uneven steps DOWN. (He met us at the bottom.)

Even still, before our descent we took the steep upward climb to the Citadel (castle); Not only can we not resist P1040184reaching the P1040180highest points, but the views are not to be missed. In all of these sites that were the ancient fortresses, the views are spectacular. One can only wonder at the ingenuity and hard labor that transported the rocks up these mountains.

Without a guide, we weren’t sure of what we were seeing. About midway down we entered a small church which still has the preserved frescoes from the 13th and 14th centuries. We were P1040194 Frescoes at Mystrastired enough that we didn’t re-climb to the more elaborate and renovated church (not modern by any stretch of the imagination). There is a limit how many cobbled rocks one can tolerate in a day. (Did I mention that I left my walking shoes in the car that brought us to Civitavecchia?)

Just below there we encountered a donkey grazing at the side of the steps. Was it the resident weed-eater? Or a rescue donkey? Or someone’s ride to work? We never learned the truth.P1040192

As the sun began to truly bake us we arrived at the bottom entrance only to meet the ship’s tour group. Whew! Once again we were glad to be the independent types.

When we returned to  Gythion, we were directed to the one place that would serve gyros in the middle of the day to a group of silly tourists. (We had been gently informed that gyros were food for the night time). Undeterred we luxuriated in the dockside breeze with our gyros, Greek salad and tzatziki, and returned to the ship having had our first taste of Greece.