Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Last Day...Corinth

The Pacific Princess docked  early at Piraeus, the port for Athens.  After a quick breakfast we departed our home for almost the past two weeks.  Once outside of the cruise terminal, we looked for a guide for the day, Vasili from Greecetaxi.  Our plans were to see the ruins at Corinth.
After a few minutes of waiting, Vasili shows up with a big smile.  We load our luggage into the waiting Mercedes and start our day.  The streets are full of traffic, but he navigates it well.  We pass the time talking about where he grew up and his family, it was his father's cab and he drove.  During tourist season he drove lots of tours since he was very fluent in English.
Once out of the city the road opened up to an interstate like set up.  To the right were hills and the left the sea.  Small towns dotted the countryside and coast, and the road was lined with shopping plazas, gas stations, etc, just like home, except there were no McDonalds.  We left the major road and after a few minutes we were at the Corinth Canal.  It had been a dream of Greeks for centuries to cut through the narrow strip of land that would increase Athens to the Adriatic Sea.  It was finally completed the end of the 19th century.
Vasili dropped us off on one side of the canal and drove to the other and waited.  The canal was crossed by bridge flanked with pedestrian walkways.  Being afraid of heights, I stayed away from the outside rail, that is until the middle of the bridge where a large dog was resting.  In the canal was a small freighter making its way to the Adriatic.
Once back in the car we continued to the site of ancient Corinth.  Though once a thriving city, Corinth has been mostly destroyed over the centuries from earthquakes and time.  There is part of one temple still standing, and various parts of structures.  The museum has some very well preserved artifacts.  Above Corinth is a large fortification, the drive up was along a narrow road.  At the fort, we decided not to go inside since it was very cool and windy, but the view was magnificent.
The last stop of our tour was lunch in a small resort town.  It is a favorite place for Vasili and his friends to spend weekends in during the summer.  The streets were lined with nice shops and vacation condos, and even though it was the middle of the week and the end of the season it was bustling.  We were dropped off at the waterfront promenade and went looking for a meal.  After walking to the end we decided on a place that served stuffed crepes.  We had a table so we could watch the people walking by and the sea just beyond.  Lunch was good and we returned to meet Vasili, who always seemed to appear at the meeting place as we approached.
The drive back to Athens was nice.  We talked about music, life in Athens and the United States and enjoyed the scenery.  Once closer in to Athens, the traffic got heavier since it was getting to be rush hour.  our hotel was the Sofitel at the airport.  VERY good choice, it was right across the street from the terminal.  The hotel was beautiful, and the room was very comfortable.  The bathroom was very well equipped and the shower massage great.  A great place to end a vacation.

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