Come off it..

I did . The bike that is, but luckily not until I neared the end of todays ride .

Another early start today was no hardship. I was enjoying this section of the coast a lot-not only was it scenic and interesting, there was a road that took me exactly where I wanted to be . It was signposted Old National Road and I assumed this had been the main road to Athens before the nearby parallel motorway had been completed . It made navigation easy and was quiet and well maintained . Happy days .

I needed to cover just under fifty miles today and was heading for the coastal resort town of Loutraki. The Old National Road took me all the way there, and my early start gave me the luxury of a roadside lunch stop with thirty miles done.

I’d got used to seeing how people shopped in rural Greece. Supermarkets were scarce and it was common to see vans and pickups at the side of the road, loaded with fruit and veg, fish, bread. I even saw a van selling clothes, complete with an on board changing room. As I left Akrata I saw the customary queue behind a van which I then realised was full of live turkeys. Weird, and I don’t think they were being bought as turkey pets .

The miles rolled by nice and quickly. I was noticing more and more large ships and tankers in the Gulf of Corinth, a sure sign that I was nearing Athens

I rode through the town of Corinth. The port area was busy and apparently, as well as it’s rich Ancient Greek and Roman history, the town was famous for Corinth raisins (me neither) which it exports all over the world .

My route also took me across the Corinthian Canal. About 120 years old, it shortened a 250 mile passage to about 5 miles, connecting the Ionian Sea (Gulf of Corinth ) with the Aegean Sea.

At its peak 100 000 ships a year used it, but it’s narrowness (23 metres ) makes it impassable by most modern ships and its main trade these days is small leisure craft.

At the Patras end there’s a really cool bridge known as the Sinking Bridge of Poseidinia. Unsurprisingly this bridge allows ships to access the canal by being submerged completely and allowing the craft to pass over it.

The not so cool thing about this bridge are the bike wheel sized gaps between the planks-I noticed them as I rode on and quicker than I could say “don’t get your front wheel trapped” I was off. I hit the deck in front of the single file queue of cars behind me, all of whom waited patiently as I unravelled myself and pushed the bike off the bridge. The bridge keeper asked me if I was OK before telling me off “is dangerous to ride bikes “. Hmm ,bit late for that! Most importantly the bike was unscathed and my only injury was national pride

My base in Loutraki for the next couple of days was Hotel Excelsior. Backing onto the sea front it was a classic example of an old, but spotless, family run hotel. Good value too and once again, my bike was accommodated in the basement with no fuss. Lovely .

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