Sunday 10th May Thermopylae 38.79736 22.53684.
Two and a half centuries ago the Persian army led by Xerxes and numbering some 1,700,000 troops advanced in Greece. Three hundred Spartans and seven hundred Thracians led by Leonidas halted their advance here in Thermopylae for three days. They were only defeated when a traitorous Greek showed the Persian army the back door to one of the gates the Greeks were defending. The Persians told the Greeks to lay down their arms and Leonidas' reply has gone down into Greek history - "Come and get them!" So, quite rightly, Leonadis is a Greek hero and I wonder if now Greece is looking for another hero? Will Alexis Tsipras say to Angela Merkel,the ECB and the IMF "You want my euros? Come and get them". I doubt it but I suspect many Greeks wished he would. There is to be, in all likelihood, a plebiscite here in Greece to decide whether or not Syriza will make the u-turn, reform pensions and increase taxes to release further IMF funds. Rocks and hard places. I can only think that life was simpler for Leonidas with his war cry - "Come and get them!" Better to face overwhelming odds on the battlefield than the international banking community perhaps.
A Greek hero!
We arrived here today after an interesting drive. We programmed the Sat-Navs for "no tolls" but the tolls on the E75 extension are new so on exiting we had to pay. Fair enough, but the b****y Sat-Navs hadn't picked up all the new junctions so we wasted half an hour going up and down the motorway and paid again for the privilege. Eventually we found the road we wanted and here we are now, parked up beneath Mt Taygetos where Leonadis' Spartans made their last stand.
Last night we stopped at Kato Gatzea, a small harbour with a few tavernas, 39.30820 23.09899. We met two sisters from Germany a few days ago who said that the Pelion peninsular was the most beautiful part of Greece and they had stopped at one of the two campsites just around the bay for six days but we have an aversion to campsites unless we need a washing machine so took a chance and parked on the headland. No one bothered us and we had the best night's sleep for days; no traffic, no owls, no trains, no aeroplanes and NO BARKING DOGS. Just the gentle sound of the waves lapping against the beach to send us to sleep. Tonight we are parked between the motorway and a trunk road but if this place was good enough for Leonidas it's good enough for us.