Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Break on Through to the Otherside

Date: 5/16/09
Distance: 50 miles
Sights: Loutraki, Nea Perachora, Lighthouse and ancient temple

When standing on the sight of the Ancient temple at Perachora (after you've waded through the waves of French tourists blocking everything), you see how it got its name "The Other Side." Modern, Ancient and Akro Korinthos are a mere 5 miles across the Gulf of Corinth from you. Here was a two storied temple that the Korinthians boated to (lacking the technological know-how to make it the 20 miles longer trip cycling).

About noon Saturday, I set out to find the other side. With Jim Morrison running through my head, I fought down the Coast Road to Korinthos. From there I got to the Posedieon Bridge. It is one of the 2 drawbridges on teh Canal. both of which actually sink into the canal when they are "drawn." I had to wait there 25 minutes.

But this gave me ample time to get pictures of the Dioklos. The Dioklos was the ancient road over which the Corinthians dragged boats over the Isthmus (for a neat fee, of course). Then I sailed into Loutraki. I stopped by the beach for a coffee and sandwich. (Grilled ham and cheese referred to in Greece as "Toast"). Then I left Loutraki for a tough 10 km up hill ride into New Perachora. Then back down to the ancient site.

It must be beautiful and peaceful where there arnen't two busloads of French tourists who are offended when you try to walk down the only steps to the site - I mean they are just sitting there!

I slowly made my way back to Vrachati. The hill up from the lighthouse isn't as hard. But I still desperately needed fruit. The fruit guy spoke no English. Fortunately for me a Jamaican cab driver arrived and playing interpreter. I made it back in time for dinner on the pebbles at Edem in Vrachati.

Down the Coast Road

Προβολή Down the Coast Ride σε χάρτη μεγαλύτερου μεγέθους

Date: 5/15/09
Trip: Vrachati - Xilocastro
Distance: 25 miles
Sights: Gulf of Corinth, Goats

I sat in rush hour traffic in Kaito. The road is too small for the number of people trying to fit into it. Driving me crazy as I sat at the edge. That's when I felt something nudge up against me. I looked over and there was goat, mouth open trying to bite me.

With a "Annngh!" and throw from me, the other two goats who were in the back of this pickup started neighing? Chalk that up to number 14 of things you don't see in the States.

I had heard about this nature trail in Xilocastro. It was only 12 miles from Vrachati. So on a lazy Friday that we left early, I went off. In an easy ride, I hugged the Gulf til I got to Xilocastro. Well, the trail wasn't great but it was something.

I took the trail up and back. Then back to Vrachati.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Up to the Ruins (4/26/09): Akrokorinthos

Ancient Corinth
Ride: Vrachati – Akrokorinthos – Vrachati
Distance: about 25 miles (with my cycling around looking for food)
Difficulty: Hard
Sights: Ancient Corinth, Akrokorinthos, Gulf of Corinth
The guide book clearly said “Acrocorinth is a s
hort trip from Ancient Corinth.” About 15 minutes up to Akrokorinthos, I realized “Maybe the guidebook handed planned to have someone cycle up.” But I figured I was almost to the top but then I saw the car that had passed me on what I thought was another hill. “Shit!” I thought. I wasn’t going to make it without stopping. I found a safe place to stop on the shoulder and drank a whole bottle of water. I took a breath and pushed my way up to the top of the hill.
My first day in Corinthia, I needed to see Ancient Corinth. I got onto Schwarzfahrer and made my way out. I rode out east from Vrachati down the National Road for a good 5 or six miles. There is a turn off to the town of Archea Korinthos. The small r
oad that leads to the town heads straight toward Akrokorinthos. If you follow the signs to Akrokorinthos you come across the archaeological site of Korinthos with the remaining pillars of the Temple of Apollo..

For six euros you get entrance into the old city. The main piece to the site is the Temple of Apollo. There are 5 or 6 columns remaining from the temple. What is weird is that the columns are not Corinthian. They have the Doric capitals, not the flowery, leafy ones which are named for the city. There are Corinthian capitals remaining from “Temple E” in the back part of the site.
The site is beautiful with ancient trees growing amongst the crumbling ruins. As earthquake after earthquake knocked down the city, the sites that have remained the best include the colonnades of shops and the one temple. Everywhere I went I kept running into masses. There were three going on all around the site. One was in Latin, one in German, and one in maybe Italian or Portuguese.
After a couple of hours wandering the old city, I left for my “short trip” to Akrokorinthos. I followed the first sign which then merely took me to an unmarked fork in the road. I had to decide which left or right. I had a fifty-fifty shot so I went right. That only lasted about 30 feet over the crest of a small hill when I was stopped by sheep crossing the road.
There were two Roma people fixing their car. I asked “Akrokorinthos?” They both shrugged. The shepherd then pointed his stick (not staff) back behind me. “Shit, I should have gone left!”
From Archea Korinthos
I turned around got back to the fork. I went left! That’s when my “short trip” to Akrokorinthos really began – up 600 meters in 3 kilometers. That makes an average grade of 20% - more steep than any hill on the Tour this year (but considerably shorter).
I finally fought my way up 3km of hell. At an average of 5 mph, it took me nearly half an hour to reach the top. Strangely enough, it was well worth it. There is an old Frankish/Venetian fortress at the top. It was remarkably well preserved and took up a huge acreage. I spent about 2 hours climbing around the walls and ramparts. Some parts of the fortress were right up against the cliffs of the hill. There is no way they would let you traipse around it so freely in the States.
From Archea Korinthos
I made it back down the mountain and cycled along the back roads and beach back to Vrachati.