Greece - Chapter 6, Sparta
Sparta. The legendary city of Leonidas and the 300, city of tales and warriors undefeated. The legends of Sparta remain with us till this day, still fuelling dreams and imagination. And while its memory remains unscathed, the same cannot be said the city itself.
Like many other modern Greek cities, modern day Sparta isn't located on its historical foundations. It’s not far away but if you miss the signs announcing your arrival in Sparta, you’d never know you were there. Not unlike Olympia, Sparta is a very small town, however unlike Olympia it isn't made for tourists at all. In all honesty, there is not much to do there at all. Which was perfect since I did not do much.
Most of my activities consisted of going into the back country and exploring the back tracks. I did this nearly every day and I loved it. Unfortunately for me, this resulted in an unexpected stop at the mechanic’s. I was parked at a Lidl, filling up the shower and storing up on food. When time came to leave I had no power steering and no power brakes. Needless to say I was not going anywhere. After spending half an hour trying to fix it, I gave up, went inside the mall and asked for help. A few moments of “everyone knows each other around here” I was in the back of a car going around the local garages trying to find one that would agree to help. That done, we were back at the parking lot for a quick fix, enough to get the van back to the workshop.
What I later found out had happened was that the bolt holding the alternator had snapped off and the alternator was now off-angle. This meant that the power steering and vacuum pump pulleys (connected to the alternator) were slipping and thus I had no power. It was quite late by the time we got to the garage (around 19:30 on a Friday) and so I spent the night there, waiting for it to be fixed in the morning.
Morning came, and I went for a walk to retrieve money to pay for the repairs. On my way I noticed, for the first time, the incredible amount of modified cars. I don’t mean the poorly done rubbish usually executed, like a crappy old Honda that rides too low and has a ridiculously loud exhaust. These were done with more taste, and a better execution. As I talked with the local part’s guy (who happened to own a 400 horsepower Fiat) I discovered that unlike what seems to happen in most of Western Europe, the car culture is very much alive and flourishing. In fact, he was going to participate in the drag racing season a fortnight from then. Cherry on top, I spotted a Ford Escort Mexico and a C3 Corvette, which despite being the least loved Corvette, looked very, very good in person. The alternator having been fixed I resumed my daily wanderings.
As usual, strange things happened. The most incredible was the following. The day I arrived I had no idea where to park so I kept driving until I finally found a spot that looked good. Said spot happened to be next to a café, to which I ended going every day. The reason for this was that the woman working behind the counter was Canadian, which was unusual but on top of that she was from Montreal, where I was born. This unexpected coincidence surprised both of us, in a good way. And so, every afternoon I would go in, buy something to eat and we would talk for 20-30 mins.
After having stayed for quite a while it was now time to leave and so I headed east, towards Athens.