A Chance to Join the Acropolis Rally at Loutraki,Corinth,Greece

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May 29th 2013
Published: June 1st 2013
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We woke this morning to another warm day but overhead it again had that fog effect blocking out what would have been an intense sun.

Our title of the blog 2 days ago wasn't quite correct as we need to drive a little further south today to then head north to Loutraki near Corinth where we will travel back over the 21 metre gap that is the Corinth Canal to the 'mainland'.

So we drove another quarter of a degree south to Kalo Nero on the E55 with what would have been some nice coastal views had the day been not so hazy.Just before we turned at Kalo Nero an opposing car blinked its lights at us to warn us of a couple of policewomen armed with a radar catching cars going over the 50kph through the small town.The blonde and red haired policewomen had another driver already pulled over and we had dropped our speed well in time anyway to avoid the 'trap'.

The road then turned east taking us to a brand new toll road the E7.It was so new that some of the off ramps had not been completed and it was partly because of this that we took the wrong direction at an interchange going south towards Kalamata instead of north towards Tripoli.The road signs had some of the future off ramps crossed out and we mistook one of them for the place ahead we were looking for.

Vicky was totally confused as to where we were because the road didn't feature on the maps we had installed and she had us driving over the farmland in an unmapped zone.

We drove on thinking that there would be an off ramp for us to take and go through an underpass or over a bridge to get back onto the road and head back in the direction we should have been going.However,kilometres passed by and there was no way off or any breaks in the median to do a quick u turn on what was an extremely quiet road.Just after a tunnel we had a chance to turn through a small gap used by emergency vehicles but we were travelling too fast and saw it too late to do a save manoeuvre.

The ahead we saw the toll gate building and pulled up at the window ready to explain to the person collecting the € 0.70c toll we would have to pay for travelling in the wrong direction,that perhaps he might waive the fee for us.With a pleasant smile he politely declined our request to waive the toll but confirmed that we could return to where we had made our error by turning left at the bridge 100 metres away and return to the other side of the toll road.

So we accepted our error and cost and followed his instructions.......only to find another toll booth and had to fork out another €0.70c to re enter the super new road and head back.Oh,well there goes the gelato for the day!

At 120kph(we could have done 130kph)we cut out the 12km that we had travelled in the wrong direction very quickly and at the interchange we slowed down to make sure we took the right lane to swing in a north easterly direction.

The other option to the toll road had been a road that climbed over a couple of mountain ranges with several hairpins on both and so we had opted for the tolls on this occasion.As it turned out the surrounding countryside was all very much the same,olive orchards where there was relatively flat land and rocky mountainsides above.

The road was a pleasure to drive on with easy gradients and a great surface and we maintained a very good speed.

The toll gates kept popping up at various intervals and our supply of small change had taken a bit of a hit by the time Corinth or Korinthos as it is known as locally came into sight.

We took the wrong road for the second time today heading down into the town of Corinth instead of travelling on towards the short bridge that would take us over the canal.We had planned to stop and take in the engineering marvel that is the Corinth Canal(more about that tomorrow)but instead after following the GPS instructions and driving through a maze of back streets we arrived at the canal at the end of the 6km cut where there was another road across but this time at sea level.

What we found though was that the 'road' over the short gap had disappeared and there was the start of a line of cars and motorbikes forming on both sides.

We got out of the car and it soon became clear how fortunate we were in taking the wrong off ramp a little earlier as coming down the canal was a tug boat with a small coastal tanker in tow followed by a yacht under motor and a local sightseeing boat.

With the temperature outside of the car at 32C we got out and watched the parade pass by all in relative slow motion.With the tow rope detatched the tug returned through the gap and we waited for where the 'road' to be put back in place so we and all the other waiting vehicles,which now numbered many,could pass over the gap.

There was a lot of noise coming from the machinery down at where we thought the road span would emerge from and then suddenly instead of it coming out from the sides of the cut,it rose up from the sea!

As we headed into Loutraki,our overnight stop,we spotted the huge gathering of trucks and people in overalls that was the control centre for the Acropolis Rally that was to happen over 3 days from 31st May with Loutraki as its base.

We thought about turning into the centre and entering Cindy.We have all the experience of driving on mountainous roads,albeit at speeds slower than the rally cars would go,and we also looked dirty enough to show that we have travelled many kilometres to pick up mud and grime as rally cars do before they get cleaned up at the end of each stage.

However,we realised our 1.6 Citroen diesel engine probably wouldn't match it with the rally cars of today and so we carried onto the town and checked into our quaint classical hotel.

We were ready for lunch and found a café down the road and tucked into a gyros(we love this simple food as it has everything in it and is cheap and filling)plus a 500ml Mythos COLD beer and sat on the kerb under a wide awning watching the locals pass by.

Loutraki has a wonderful foreshore with a long promenade and we headed down there for dinner finding a small restaurant that had what we wanted(Greek salad,what else)on the menu and enjoyed a relaxing meal over an hour and a half quaffing bacl wine and again watching the locals stroll by on a balmy,evening.If only Tauranga would get rid of the rail line and move the restaurants to the foreshore it would make a setting that would bring the crowds in even greater numbers.

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