I left Corinth a little early. I didn’t know how my plans would turn out, but I knew I might need the extra time.
Just outside of Corinth I crossed over the Corinth Canal, which connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. Numerous attempts to complete it failed starting in 1 AD, finally completed in 1893. More than one Roman emperor’s efforts were foiled by their own assassination.
Given the heavy traffic from yesterday, I started the day on EV8. That relationship ended (again) when EV8 routed me from my decent highway to a hill steep enough I had to hold both sets of brakes when resting during my walk up – with only one set of brakes held the bicycle would slide back down the hill. Reaching the second one of those hills, I retreated back to the highway.
I passed Glaros Campground (the only campground between myself and Athens) at 30 km, deciding to press on. I had a convoluted set of plans, backup plans, and backups to the backup plans for where I would spend the night.
Having grown accustomed to my sedate coastal road, the road shifted today to long climbs. Losing momentum as I passed Glaros, I realized the wind had shifted to a headwind. Good for the Dutch women, less so for me. The slower rate meant I was unlikely to make the 120 km to Rafina, taking into account the time of crossing a large city, and the 200 m climb across the center of the peninsula. There are two ferry ports for Athens. Ferries depart Rafina (on, of course, the other side of Athens) mid-afternoon. Ferries on the closer port of Piraeus leave at 7:00 am, hard for me to catch all things considered.
At the recommendation of Sam, and the two Dutch women, I took a short ferry to the Greek island of Salamina, crossing the island to cut the corner into Athens, avoiding the coastal traffic. That worked beautifully. That also had the advantage of arriving in Piraeus, Athens’ main port. From the ferry terminal I could make more specific inquiries about departures. Except that the ferry didn’t arrive in Piraeus, which I didn’t immediately realize. That foiled my plan of easy access to the ferry terminal.
The intense traffic of Athens came as a shock after weeks of relatively tranquil roads (we’d taken a train into Rome). Large vehicles, no shoulder, interweaving motorcycles and mopeds, all pushed me to my limits; I’d already had a long day. My next plan was to take a train to the airport. The airport is at least reasonably near Rafina; I could use the train to jump over the traffic. I had some concerns about that plan, because while the road on OSMAnd looked OK, I couldn’t get OSMAnd to route out of the airport via the route that made sense to me. A problem for later.
Reaching what looked like the train station on the map, I’d managed to navigate to a freight station, not a passenger one. At this point I’d cycled deep into Athens. It was 4:00 pm. I’d been in heat and the sun all day. I was almost out of water. My phone charge had taken a hit both from searching across the day for hostels on the islands, ferry times, and a lot of detailed navigation in Athens (which is dense and huge). When searching for hostels, a number of them either didn’t list cycle storage, were in an awkward place, or had age restrictions that excluded me. On the other hand, even if I found the train station, by time I got to the airport I’d still have best case 15 km (and if OSMAnd was correct, 33 km) to cycle to the campground in Rafina.
After mulling it over (using up more time) I headed directly into the center of Athens, eschewing the GPS for just going that way. When I’d cycled far enough to be bear city center, I identified what sounded like a large hostel nearby (the Athens International Hostel), and just walked in to ask if they had a bed for the night. Somewhere along the way we miscommunicated, in that he thought I wanted a single room, where I explicitly did not. By the time I figured it out I no longer cared.
With gear and bicycle stowed away, I cleaned myself up and walked into Athens for something to eat. The hostel rests in what can only be defined as not the best part of town; I made sure to be back before dark.
I made a reservation for a different hostel for Monday-Thurs for my flight out. I’m more than unimpressed with this one, but at least it’s a place for the night, something I wondered at a few points how that would play out.
Research indicated the Metro only permits folding bicycles. Tomorrow I cycle to Rafina and a ferry that in theory departs at 3:00 pm, which should be doable with 30 km to get there. If not there’s camping nearby. Assuming the ferry accepts bicycles; despite a lot of research I still don’t know. My stomach is also cramping, be nice if that would stop.
Damn, this room has a mosquito.