Monday, May 19, 2008

Backpacking in Greece (Part IV)


I have traveled the Greek islands for many years now and apart from Athens had given very little thought to the mainland. I had never until recently hired a car and gone in search of the interesting, and, as it turned out, quite spectacular sights to be seen there.

The following places I mention were all seen in a day, but you need to start out early. Take plenty of film with you and have fun!

First and foremost, a special "thank you" to our Athenian friend Amalia, both our tour guide and driver on this trip, but we won't mention anything about a railway barrier!


Whilst traveling the National Road from Athens, you will come across toll-booth's, the road toll charges will range from 1.46 Euro to 2.93 Euro. When you take the highway out of Athens the first prefecture you come to in the Peloponnese is Corinthia. Make sure to pull over at the lay-bye, take your camera and look down at the Corinth Canal...... What a view! You will no doubt recognize it from the many postcards published.

The Corinthian's were the first people to come up with the idea of a canal but were unable to complete it, so they turned to building a paved slip-way in order to haul their boats over the isthmus. It was not until 1893 that the Corinth Canal was eventually completed, in fact by the French.

As time passed Athens was to become such a powerful force that Corinth's power declined, then the Roman's under Nero completely destroyed the city in 146BC. Today Corinth is one of Greece's major cities it has a large waterfront with lots of taverns, bars etc, it is lively in both summer and winter.

Many ancient ruins are at the base of the huge rock of Acrocorinth, most of these however are Roman. The views here are quite stunning!
Amongst the many ancient buildings can be found the Temple of Aphrodite. The goddess of love!

Further along the National Road between Corinth and Patras you will come across lots of smaller villages which are well worth a visit, time permitting of course.

The next town I mention we came across because we were slightly lost! (Not according to our tour guide)


Here you will see Roman baths, ancient Odeum and the Agora, Argos also has a modern town, which can be quite busy, however it is virtually free of tourist's. Also you will see hundreds of orange orchards, Argos is famous for this.


Now this is a must! a quite amazing amount of history and ancient ruins to behold. Park your car and head towards the Acropolis, pick up a book/map from the kiosk. (worth the money)
You enter the Acropolis through the Lion Gate, a good photo opportunity, (it has a second entrance on the opposite side.) Inside are the palace ruins, a walk to the top will provide great views. On your way back down you will come across some footpaths, follow these to some incredible tombs built like cones. To this day they are not sure how these were actually built.


The first capital of Greece, Nafplion is an amazing place, there is a great Venetian fortress in the middle of Nafplion Bay. Look up and you will see the restored castle of Palamide, if you are prepared to climb the 1000 steps it will provide worthwhile. Once again a view to be admired, another great camera moment! We arrived late afternoon just in time to see the sunset, I never thought the mainland could be so spectactular until I came across Nafplion, here would be a great base from which to explore the surrounding sites. It's waterfront is filled with tavernas, bars and cafes, and for the ladies the main square has lots of small boutiques.

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