Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Wed 13 Jul 2016. Epidaurus to Sparta to Mystras

Wed 13 Jul 2016. Epidaurus to Sparta to Mystras
On our lovely Greek beach, farewelled our Aussie neighbours. Travel safely Guy & Cheryl!

Took the morning to explore the UNESCO ruins of Epidaurus, the birthplace of Apollo's son Asclepios the healer. Epidaurus was the most celebrated healing centre of the Classical world, the "cradle of the art of medicine", where ill people went in the hope of being cured. To find out the right cure for their ailments, they spent a night in an enormous sleeping hall. In their dreams, the god would advise them what they had to do to regain their health. Within the sanctuary there was a guest house with 160 guestrooms to then enact the cures (whilst this sounds like a great business model, it must be noted there were also the ruins of a hospice and cemetery on site...)

Plaque erected as thanks for cure for deafness

Went through informative but small museum, with statuary from temples, shines, bathhouses etc. Symbols of healing (grouse, snake) and war (spears, horse, breastplate) were on display.

To ensure man's health, the cult of Asklepieion observed animal sacrifice (governed by formal laws), purification with waters, and a communal meal with the god/s. Part of their rituals involved an annual procession from city to centre along the Sacred Way. Magical energy and auto-suggestion came later, as did increased skills and knowledge of physicians and surgeons.

Epidaurus is also celebrated for its 4thC theatre. GirlRob finally realised that Greek theatres (as opposed to Roman ones), always face a view (in this case lush landscape)! This theatre remains renowned for its exceptional acoustics, which permit a match struck at centre-stage to be amplified to all 14,000 spectators, regardless of their seating. A modern study suggested the rows of limestone seats filter out low-frequency sounds (incl the murmur of the crowd), and amplify high-frequency sounds on the stage

Formal "seat of honour"

There wasn’t much more to see beyond the museum room, but GirlRob was delighted to find a hoopoe in a tree on the way back to the carpark. Given it was 34˚ at noon, it was a relief that the air-conditioning is working better since BoyRob rinsed the membranes.

Headed over the mountain range with its views over Nafplion and gorge. Travelling improved - the condition of the road, cooler air, green mountains, running rivers. Nafplion is the home of castles and luxury yachts. We made our lunch on the biggest unused wharf we've ever seen.
Castle on hilltops...

Castles on sea rocks....

On to the town of Sparta for a brief look at the statue of Leonidas, one of its few kings to have ever undergone the notoriously harsh training of Spartan youth.  Leonidas led a small band of Greek allies at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC valiantly defending the pass through which the Persian king Xerxes sought to invade Greece with his massive army. Defeated, and dying in the attempt, Leonidas is most remembered for his battle cry, oft translated to “Never Surrender”. Sparta today seems to be a thriving clean town, a pleasure to see such civic pride. 

Repairs in the main street

A different take on an open-topped bus!

No free camps with all these fenced properties

Drove a further 5 minutes to Castle View Camping, jumped in their pool first thing to cool off, put on load of washing, cut up ham and salad for dinner, hung out washing. More relaxed, we talked to Michael and Katrina from Vienna, who told us when we cross to the Americas to explore our next continent, we must aim to be in Guatemala for Easter for their amazing religious festival and parade, because it also becomes an unofficial convention of overland vehicles. They also invited us to visit them in Vienna. 
Castle View Camping - true to its name....

Camping in the olive grove

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