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  1. Clare

    Day 4: Corinth

    Our aim for today was to visit the ruins of ancient Corinth. On a map, Corinth looks like it ought to be an easy day-trip away from Athens, but it was actually surprisingly difficult. First of all we had to catch a train, which runs from Athens to Corinth station once an hour. The main train station in Athens isn't far from where we are staying, so this part of the journey was quite straightforward. Return tickets to Corinth cost €14.50 each, which didn't seem too bad considering the journey took just over an hour in each direction. The train station is in a town known as Νέα Κόρινθος (New Corinth), which was founded in 1858 after an earthquake wiped out the existing town of Corinth. The guidebook warned that, because the town was so new, there wasn't really anything of interest to see here. The site of ancient Corinth is located several kilometres away from the new town, which meant that we needed to catch a bus. Unfortunately, the bus station is located on completely the opposite side of town from the train station so, with the help of Google Maps on my phone, we had a 3km walk through Corinth. Not long after we set off we were accosted by a taxi driver who, obviously wanting to charge us an extortionate fare, tried to tell us that we would need to take three buses to get to Ancient Corinth. What I'd read on the internet definitely didn't suggest that this was the case, so we persevered and eventually made it to the bus station. In fact, on the way we even found the sea This part of Corinth was actually quite pretty. It was around 11.30 by the time we got to the bus station. The bus to Ancient Corinth only runs once an hour, so we had a while to wait in the bus station. Bus stations in Greece seem even more low-tech than in Croatia and Montenegro; the bus timetables weren't even posted on the walls, you had to go to an information desk to consult a piece of paper there instead! The bus was supposed to arrive around midday but it wasn't terribly punctual, so I began to worry it wasn't going to materialise and we should have taken the taxi driver up on his offer after all. Thankfully, around 12.10 it eventually pulled into the bus station. Phew! The journey to Ancient Corinth took less than half an hour and cost €1.80 each, which I'm sure is a lot cheaper than a taxi would have been! As we were getting off, the bus driver told us the timetable for the return journey and that the bus would pick us up from the same place; that was good to know, because there was no bus timetable on display here either! We turned a corner and got our first view of the ruins. Wow It cost €8 each for a ticket to get in, so cheaper than the Acropolis. Corinth was one of the largest cities in Ancient Greece, with a population of 90,000 people in 400 BC. The town was captured and significantly destroyed by the Romans in 146BC, but then rebuilt as a Roman colony in 44BC. The most striking part of the ruins is the remains of the Temple of Apollo. As we walked around the temple, we could see what looked like the remains of a fortress on the hilltop behind. These are the remains of Acrocorinth, which the guidebook had said was a 4km walk from Ancient Corinth. It looked like that would be a very steep 4km, so we decided to give it a miss In addition to the Temple of Apollo, there were remains of several smaller temples... ...as well as numerous other columns and pillars, some of which had really elaborate detail on them. We could just about make out the remains of painted colours on these stones... ...and this stone seemed to have some Roman writing on it. Of course, there are also biblical associations with Corinth. St Paul not only wrote letters to the Corinthians but lived in the city for a while, during which time he was put on trial for conducting illegal teachings. The trial is believed to have taken place here at the rostrum, a large platform used for public speaking. A church was later built on the spot during the Byzantine period. I'd expected the ruins to be quite busy - and there were a few coaches in the car park - but as we were walking around it actually seemed pretty peaceful. It was definitely a lot quieter than Athens, and the views were really spectacular. The way out of the site lay down a wide Roman road, lined with the remains of buildings on both sides. It certainly wasn't a bad view to end with There's a small town outside the ruins, where we found a restaurant to have a belated lunch. I tried chicken souvlaki today, which were really nice, and Tim went for a mixed grill. For pudding we tried baklava, a pastry filled with honey and nuts, which was lovely too. The coffee we had was Turkish though, so we had to be careful not to choke on the coffee grounds Our journey back to Athens started smoothly. We managed to catch the bus back to the new town and navigate our way across the town to the train station, all on time to catch the 16.14 train back to the capital. Unfortunately, when we were about 15 minutes away from Athens, something went wrong with our train. We left a station, slowed down, reversed back to the platform, then proceeded to sit there for over an hour. The announcements about what was happening were only in Greek, so it was one of those times when you really wish you could speak a language! Lots of people were getting off the train and staring at something, so I'm guessing either the train had broken down and someone was trying to repair it, or something had happened to the track which needed to be fixed/cleared before we could move on. It took an awfully long time anyway, so it was nearly 7pm by the time we finally got back to the apartment. It was a good day though - Corinth was beautiful and we managed to cope without needing a taxi Tomorrow we will be picking up a rental car and saying goodbye to Athens, as we head to our next destination: Olympia.
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