A bridge too far…

An early Sunday morning start today for a forty mile spin to the small seaside village of Selianitika. After yesterdays ride I was looking forward to todays route for a few exciting reasons-a couple of long climbs meant a couple of long descents, with views to match. A good section of the route was next to the Gulf of Patras, and also today was the end of my journey South, as I now turned left and headed East towards Athens. Journeys end was in sight.

The most exciting thing though was the prospect of another ferry ride-childish I know but even though this was to be the eighth ferry of my trip, I was full of beans for it.This particular trip was across the Gulf of Corinth, linking the town of Antirrio on mainland Greece with the town of Rio on the Peloponnese peninsula.

The place where I’d stayed didn’t do breakfast, but did provide these pre packed croissant things …..they deserve a special mention

So bad but so good

These were everywhere, basically a long life croissant thing full of Nutella, or jam. Full of calories, preservatives and sugar, they were a pannier friendly common breakfast substitute and every supermarket sold them. Cheap and nasty and oh so good!! Like a gateway drug to Sunny Delight and Haribos probably, but I always had an emergency fix in my bags.😊

About five miles in I hit a diversion sign,telling me the bridge three miles ahead was closed , and directing me onto the motorway. Problem. There was no other way round, and in any case, I wasn’t actually expecting a bridge. The road had an empty feel to it, making me think it was a genuine closure rather than one a cyclist could wriggle through. I was reluctant to commit to what could be a waste of time forcing me into a U turn worthy of Downing Street, but I had no alternative . Just then four road cyclists approached me, obviously thinking my questioning “bridge bridge?” comment was some kind of foreign greeting as they all cheerily replied “bridge bridge” to me as they pelotoned on by.

I pressed on. The bridge was an impassable disaster zone, looking like it had collapsed as a result of flooding or earthquake or something.

Luckily the enterprising locals had built a workaround, exploiting the dried up river bed, and I was actually able get through pretty easily, pausing only long enough to wonder what I had been whittling about .

Pretty good workaround

The next twenty miles glided by. The weather was superb and the descent into the crossing point at Antirrio was amazing-fast, smooth and quiet, with amazing views of the bridge that dominated the skyline.

This is an amazing bridge . Completed in 2004, the story was that the locals, who’d campaigned for years to have it built, were so dismayed by the toll charges (13 euros each way for a car) that they then campaigned to retain the ferries which until then were the only way across-and not only retain them but subsidise their running costs from bridge toll revenue making them free to the user. A pleasing victory for people power I’d say and it was interesting to see how busy the ferries remained today .

I rolled straight on to the waiting ship, no tickets required,

and the twenty minute crossing gave me a unique view of the bridge

The last fifteen miles today were by the sea, through small villages with a busy late Sunday trade in the beachside bars and restaurants that were still open.

When I’d researched Greece I realised there were no trains at all on this side of the country, so I was surprised to see sections of railway track alongside the road . I realised though that these lines went nowhere and were obviously a relic of the Greek version of Dr Beeching.

My end town Selianitika was tiny-just a small road with a few bars and a hotel, which had the undoubted pleasure of hosting me for the night.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: