I feel like ferry schedules in Greece are more of a, I don’t know, a serving suggestion perhaps? Sure, we can do this journey in 2 hours and 25 minutes. In fact that’s what we’ll advertise it as. But fucked if that’s actually what we’re going to do it in despite the handbrake turns into port, the RORO doors swinging down before you’re anywhere near docked, the insane turn around as humans and vehicles are herded off and new sets of both are herded on. You’ve not even found a place to park your arse before they’re off again. Maybe they should just add half a fucking hour on per stop so we can actually plan shit.
We decided to just stay in Athens for the night rather than try to predict when we’d arrive at Piraeus and whether we’d have time to get to Corinth at a reasonable hour because my crystal ball was in for repair. We just dealt with all that shenanigans the following morning and here we are, the land of ancient ruins and a fuck off great big canal.
We’ve done a lot of nothing since we got here, we’ve had three and a half weeks of non-stop touristing, we’ve earned a break from our holiday. We’d found a tiny, central apartment on Booking.com which suited our needs. We also found a boat ride down aforementioned fuck off great big canal but it only left on Thursdays so we extended our stay to accommodate it and proceeded to utilise our extra time wisely; by lying very still in an air-conditioned room, watching Sarah Millican clips on YouTube.
Eventually, after a couple of days, we emerged blinking into the sunlight in search of adventure and freddo espressos. Largely the latter. There was blood in our caffeine systems. Nah I jest, we’d been grocery shopping, I’d ventured out on Sunday but it was an absolute ghost town, and whilst Tarrant was glued to the Queen’s funeral on the Monday I headed into Loutraki to buy our vouchers for the boat trip and to gush over the canal that links the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf, severing the Peloponnese from the rest of Greece.
Gush over the canal. That sounds wrong. But it really is a very impressive canal. A feat of engineering. It’s really quite spectacular, carved into the rock, steep sides disappearing into this crazy turquoise water. You can stand on the bridge close to the Isthmus bus station and just drool over it. The canal that is, not the bus station. Though this is the bus station you’ll need if you want to go anywhere else in the Peloponnese so I gleaned some information off the very lovely woman there because the timetables listed online don’t always match up with what actually happens.
Today we actually ventured all the way to the submersible bridge at the northwest end of the canal. We literally walked the 3.5 kilometres in the ridiculous sunshine because we wanted to watch a bridge sink under the water to let a massive boat through. There wasn’t even a guarantee we’d see it happen, I’ve no idea if there’s a schedule you can find. Googling turned up bugger all. We just rocked up and stared at at.
During our island hopping escapades we’d been using Vessel Finder to track our ferries and find out how fucking delayed they were. I popped it open just to see if it was worth sacrificing any more skin to the sun gods, and a ship was literally just nosing its way into the canal at Isthmia. I was way more excited than I should have been. You can also see the whole length of the canal right from one end to the other so we bounded (I bounded, Tarrant walked like a normal human) onto the bridge.
There it was! It was huge! This big ship being towed down the canal by a little tug boat! We got off the bridge and found a place to stand to watch it sink. The bridge, not the boat. We’re not going to get excited because a boat is sinking. That’s some next level schadenfreude shit. The bridge sinks way before the boat gets there. It’s so cool. The traffic is halted, it’s quite a busy bridge albeit a small one, then it’s casually lowered into the water.
The behemoth was towed through, churning the blue water into brown, followed by a small yacht. Four small vessels crossed over the other way, then the bridge was raised back into place. I think we must have stood there like the massive nerds we are for about forty minutes as the bridge and the boats did their thing. I regret nothing. Actually I regret not bringing water. Or suncream.
That was enough adventure for one day, but Tarrant’s greatest Greek adventure is still food. We treated ourselves to breakfast this morning. She ordered scrambled eggs which was simply listed on the menu as, well, scrambled eggs. She confirmed it came with toast and asked for no butter on the toast. It came on toast, and atop that toast sat a slice of ham, and atop that ham sat a slice of cheese. That’s on us for not going through the whole “can’t have dairy” thing but I mean, my omelette clearly stated the presence of cheese. They might even have had milk in the eggs but she hasn’t shat her whole arse yet so we’re calling that a win.
Corinth, Peloponnese, Greece / Κόρινθος, Πελοπόννησος, Ελλάδα
Stayed at: CKBSM Korinthos Central Apartment, Corinth
Useful shit to know…
- You can pay anywhere between €40 and €95 for a boat back to Athens from Santorini, it just depends on how long you’re willing to spend on the actual boat and how flexible you are with your timings. We did want to travel on Thursday but the €40 boat sailed on the Friday and I’d much rather spend that money on an extra night on the wonderful Naxos than hurl it at a boat trip. Sure, you’re not saving much, but you’re sure as fuck getting more for your dolla. Oh, it’s a 9 hour 45 minute trip though, and that’s without delays. Double oh… it’s scheduled to leave port at 5.55am…
- There’s always going to be a bus from Fira that will get you to your ferry on time, even if it leaves obnoxiously early. Port timetables are published a day in advance. Our bus left at 4am.
- If you know the name of your boat you can track it on Vessel Finder. This works for pretty much any boat in the world I think.
- Piraeus Port is absolutely vast but there’s a free shuttle bus that runs from one end to the other.
- For the Metro, the Green Line (1) runs to/from Piraeus. Change at Monastiraki for the Blue Line (3) and Omonia for the Red Line (2). I believe they’re extending the Blue Line to reach Piraeus but I don’t know when that’s scheduled for completion.
How To Get From Athens To Corinth
- The main bus station is at Kifissou 100, and at first glance it looks confusing but it’s well organised and signs are in Greek and Latin script.
- I think the closest Metro station is Agios Antonios on the Red Line (Line 2), at least this is the station we opted for, then it’s a 20 minute walk from there.
- The ticket office is by the taxi rank. I didn’t see much Latin script once inside and, whilst the chap I spoke to spoke English I don’t know if it can be expected.
- Find the KTEL Korinthia / ΚΤΕΛ ΚΟΡΙΝΘΙΑΣ desk and buy your ticket here.
- At the time of writing it cost €8.50 one way.
- Here’s a hastily snapped photo of the timetable:
- KTEL Korinthia website has the timetables (It’s in Greek but Google Chrome does a good job of translating it).
- The coaches leave from bays 24, 25 and 26. I just asked drivers in these bays which bus we needed, they were really helpful.
- It took about an hour and 20 minutes (no other stops, no bad traffic) and we weren’t dropped at the bus station but outside the courthouse at 37.939102, 22.932566.
- I believe there are two submersible bridges; one at Isthmia but I’m not entirely sure where, and the Posidonia bridge which is the one we saw.
- The bridge you want for the classic shot down the canal with the steep sides is the bridge close to the Isthmus bus station. This bridge doesn’t sink.
- The Corinth to Loutraki bus will drop you at the canal. When I was there in September the bus was hourly.
- Corinth or Loutraki to the Canal cost €1.60. Corinth all the way to Loutraki was €1.70.
- There’s a bus shelter by the road outside the bus station. You stand roadside to go to Loutraki and station side to go to Corinth.