There are a couple of things worth putting in your eyeholes if you’re in Corinth, one of which is Ancient Corinth, an excavation a few kilometres from the new city of Corinth. Y’know, assuming you’re not complete over really, really old broken shit by now.
The ruins themselves are quite cool, the highlight being the seven remaining pillars of the Apollo Temple. I’ve realised that I rate a ruin on the remaining pillars. Like, you could show me the most important ruin in the country but if there aren’t any pillars left I’m a bit like, meh. The Ancient Agora in Athen is the birthplace of democracy but all I care about is the temple on the hill with all the lovely pillars.
Turns out Corinth was a powerful city until the Romans decimated it in 146BC. It was patriarchal of course. Because, y’know, it’s Greece. A woman’s place was in the home and a man’s was out fighting wars. Now I would say I was a feminist but given a choice between going into battle or keeping house, pass me that chopping board, sunshine. I’ll make you a sandwich.
There were plenty of wars to go and get killed in. After the Greeks won the Persian War, Corinth convinced Sparta to start the Peloponnese War against Athens. Less than 40 years later they sided with Athens against Sparta and the Corinthian War broke out. I feel like they just liked stabbing things.
We pottered around the museum for a bit gawping at the artifacts unearthed at the excavation, had a look at the ruins then had a little think about whether we wanted to walk the 4 kilometres up the fuck off great big hill to the Acrocorinth. I mean, it probably affords astounding views but it really is a very big hill. We eventually decided against it, citing irregular bus times as a perfectly valid excuse.
We’d actually had a bit of rain this morning and it had been overcast most of the day which is very conducive to sightseeing. Like, Athens was wonderful but I fucking melted. I think my brain must have taken liquid form and trickled our through my ear. There’s probably still parts of it clinging to various ancient sites. But just because it’s a bit cooler now I’m still not walking up that fucking hill.
The following day we ventured out after a night of absolute downpours. We had a boat trip booked this evening, as long as it wasn’t tipping down for that the rest of the day could do what it wanted. Terms and conditions apply. I had plans to jump off a bridge and it would be nice if it weren’t raining for that.
I’ve done four bungy jumps and I like to do them in nice places. I’m not going to hurl myself off a fucking crane in the ASDA carpark, mate. No. If I’m going to scare the living fuck out of myself it has to be somewhere with adequate eyehole fodder and I’d already managed to develop a minor obsession with the Corinth Canal so it would be an honour to shit myself at this absolute landmark.
You don’t have to book this one, you can just show up so there’s no commitment. You can just walk away and pretend you never even saw it. But the staff are absolute legends and straight away they put you at ease. I chatted with them for a bit, they said I could watch a couple of jumpers first before deciding, but I thought fuck it. Let’s just do it. Bungy is one of those things that just gets harder the longer you leave it.
I registered, paid, got harnessed up and a group of us were led down some steps and under the Corinth Canal bridge to the bungy platform. Tarrant came along for the lols, she was more nervous than me and she wouldn’t be going anywhere off the edge of any manner of structure. We all lined up and one of the bungy masters looked directly at me and said, “Claire? Would you like to go first?”
Actually yes! Yes I very much would! The waiting is the worst fucking thing about launching yourself into an abyss, I’d be very glad to get it done. Every single time I do this I’m like, fuck it, this is the last time, I’m never doing this again. I’m not putting myself through this shit any more. Two staff members got me attached to all the things it was necessary to attach me to so I didn’t die. They went through what I needed to do to flip myself the right way up when ready, and how to clip myself to the hook that would bring me back up.
If you’ve read my South West Coast Path blog (it’s a 54 post monster, I won’t actually be offended if you have no intention of reading it) you’ll know that I’m not great with heights at all. I had to sit down several times and bum-shuffle down various hills because I was terrified of plummeting to my death. I even completely froze on one hill. Tarrant had to come and rescue me. But it’s somehow different when you know you’ve got a length of elastic strapped to your ankles. I’m still terrified of falling but when that countdown reaches one, jumping is a whole other thing.
I say jump, it’s more of a flop,but however you do it if you don’t go on one you’re basically not going. You’ll stand up there all day trying to convince yourself this is a perfectly sane thing to do. I stared straight ahead at the drone in front of me as everyone counted down from five… four… three… two… one… and, as I do every time, I just sort of fell off the bridge and screamed a lot. The picture of grace and elegance. I wish I could execute the perfect swan dive, push myself away from the platform, but no. It’s always an awkward crouch-then-topple.
And yeah, the drone! Back when I did my very first bungy jump in New Zealand you were given a t-shirt, a certificate and a CD with your jump video taken from one angle from the side. By the time I did my fourth in Nepal I was asked if I wanted a GoPro strapped to my head aimed at my face. I resembled a terrified angler fish as I shuffled out into that platform. This time the GoPro was strapped to my wrist and I paid extra for a drone to film my jump. It’s fun to see how technology has come along throughout all the years of parting with obnoxious sums of cash to scare the fuck out of myself. It’s also a great way to make you feel really old.
I got the link to the GoPro footage the following morning, it resulted in some quite creative boob shots. I won’t get the drone footage for a few days but I’m looking forward to it, assuming I didn’t accidentally take the drone out with a bingo wing or a particularly defined wrinkle. Of course it won’t be my last one either. As soon as you go over the edge you know you’re going to do it again. And again. And again. Until someone has a heart attack, either me or Tarrant, at this stage either is possible.
We’d planned to spend the afternoon on Loutraki’s lovely beach on account of it being pebbles ergo not prone to getting in all of your holes without asking but it was cloudy and that wind was certainly cold enough to make your nipples sit up and take notice. We contented ourselves with chilling in a café for a while before heading to a restaurant for the most ridiculous portion of meat I’ve ever seen in my life. I had the chicken and I swear they brought me half the bird. Tarrant had a pork chop, it was bigger than her head. I couldn’t even finish my chicken so I took it away for my midnight snacks I like to have, usually whilst questioning why I’m putting on weight.
So this boat trip. They call this particular excursion the Canal Crossing and they pick you up in a bus, drive you to the port of Isthmia and you get on a boat. Then you sail aaaaall the way up the canal, turn around, and sail aaaaall the way back down it again. I think Tarrant was a little underwhelmed, especially when she found out it cost nearly €30 each, but I know for a fact if I’d suggested she not come she’d have gotten FOMO. I thought it was fucking great!
They had to close the canal last year on account of bits of the wall collapsing which obviously isn’t conducive to safe passage. They’ve only opened it for three months this year but I don’t think it’s a super major shipping channel like the Suez or anything, it’s too narrow, modern ships don’t fit. The idea to cut a canal through the Isthmus was first conceived in the 7th century BC but it couldn’t be done so they just built a limestone path and dragged ships over it. The remains of this diolkos can be seen by the submersible bridge at the northwestern end.
Three Roman emperors had grand ideas to build a canal, but two were assassinated before they could make it happen and the third, Nero, stabbed himself in the neck. Interest was revived in the 1800s but two companies that attempted it went bankrupt. It was eventually finished in 1893 but it wasn’t used as much as they thought it’d be on account of it being too narrow to navigate and the tides being a bit of a bugger. I’m starting to think this whole thing was cursed. But still, it’s a very attractive cursed feat of engineering.
I was content, I’d seen it from all angles now. From the bridge, from the water, and dangling upside-down from a bit of elastic. My Isthmus of Corinth adventure was complete. It was time for something else to irrationally fixate on. Perhaps something cheaper next time please, Greece. Maybe a small, photogenic island or something I can just gaze at from afar.
Jump to “Useful shit to know…”
Ancient Corinth, Loutraki & Isthmus Canal, Peloponnese, Greece / Αρχαία Κόρινθος, Λουτράκι & Ισθμός, Πελοπόννησος, Ελλάδα
Stayed at: CKBSM Korinthos Central Apartment, Corinth
Useful shit to know…
- The bridge you want for the classic shot down the canal with the steep sides is the bridge close to the Isthmus bus station.
- We booked our Canal Crossing with Heraion Tours. I had to go into Loutraki to buy the vouchers from their shop. They were very helpful. It cost €28 each which included bus transfers from Loutraki to Isthmia.
- Zulu Bungy are right by the bridge. You don’t need do book, you can just walk in. Check their website for opening days/times and prices.
- The Corinth to Loutraki bus will drop you at the Isthmus bus station which is close to 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.
- From Corinth you wait outside a jewellers shop on the road close to the bus station (37.937887, 22.937902) and buy your ticket on the bus.
- From Loutraki you go from the small bus station and can by your ticket at the desk there.
- The buses to and from Ancient Corinth (ΑΡΧΑΙA) are not frequent, at least not in September. The timetable I was given at the bus station in Corinth (see below) differs slightly from what was written on the website (which is in Greek but Google Chrome can translate it).
- You can catch the bus from outside the bus station in Corinth.
- The return times from Ancient Corinth given by the bus driver were 11.30, 14.30, 17.30. There may be more but do check.
- It cost €1.60 each one way.
- The bus does a big loop around the outside of Ancient Corinth and will drop you at a bus stop close to the entrance (37.905135, 22.876439). It’ll pick you up from the same place on the same side of the road heading in the same direction.
- Ancient Corinth cost €8 each to get in.