Day 3 – Nafphlio to Epidavros (31.9 miles, 2361 ft.)
Saying goodbye to Nafphlio was hard because it was such a fun place to be. Luckily, better road conditions with less traffic, a larger shoulder, and new pavement plus stunning scenery with cobblestone paths on the edge of the seaside, rolling hills speckled with olive groves, pinkish, rocky cliffs, and were our rewards for pushing on.
By noon we were baking hot and looking for shade. A road sign advertising a hotel 200 meters off the main highway was our excuse to take a detour for shade and water. This “detour’ as, we’ve found many to be during our travels, ended up being the bonus for the day. After sipping Coke and chugging waters in the breeze-filled, cool shade of the grape arbor at the hotel, we then cyclied a few more kilometers down the road to Ligourio where we had a choice of cafes for lunch and a cool place for Eric to “hang out” while I made the extra 4 kilometer ride to see the world famous Epidavros Theater, surrounding archeological site, and museum. I’m so glad I did and, as a result, seeing a Greek play performed at Epidavros is now on my bucket list.
This ancient theater, built in 300 BC, is still in excellent condition . With seating for over 13,000 people, excellent natural acoustics, and a full program of excellent summer plays, I’m only sorry that we were not going to be in Greece over the weekend. After seeing Epidavros with my own eyes and hearing the acoustics from traveling student groups clapping on stage to their friends high up in the stands, I am impressed and it awe of those ancient Greek builders.
After visiting Epidavros, I cycled back uphill to the town of Ligourio to meet up with Eric. We found a old, less traveled, mostly downhill road to the town Ancient Epidavros, our stop of the night.
Our destination was the Mouria Pansion situated directly on the beach in a peaceful, secluded cove. From the road, this hotel did not look very promising, but once we entered the lobby and passed through the dated restaurant, we found ourselves separated from the world with lush palms, oleanders, bougainvillea, manicured grass, clean beach and blue water. It was like a hidden paradise…
If ever there were a beachside bar at which to order a coctail, this is it. The bartender uses freshly squeezed oranges, lemons, and limes plus freshly grated ginger and other spices to make his drinks. I’m not usually a mixed drink fan but this marguerita was fresh, tart, and strong.
Luckily there was no need to worry about cycling under the influence because Mouria Pansion also has a restaurant. There is no menu and the waiter strongly suggests their “local cuisine” (it’s possible that’s all they had in the kitchen) but the food, like the cocktail, was tasty.
We went to bed early so we could rise early for a before-breakfast swim.
Day 4 – Epidavros to Poros ( 30.5 mi, 3182 ft.)
Today was my FAVORITE day of cycling in Greece! Hills, a good road with little traffic, beautiful views of the ocean, and a ferry ride across a beautiful bay to our final destination made this ride a joy!
As planned, we started the day with a swim in the calm waters of the bay in front of our hotel at the Mouria Panison. I loved the smooth-pebbled beach and prefer the small pebbles over fine sand because it is gentle on my feet and doesn’t leave grit between my toes.
I could have relaxed on the beach all day but it was time to move on. Leaving the town of Ancient Epidavros is a very steep, long uphill. It was so steep (or we were so out of shape) that we stopped every 100 meters or so to wipe sweat from our brows and catch our breaths.
I’m convinced, however, that hills are worth it for the spectacular views and the thrill of the downhill. This leg of our journey did not disappoint. We were rewarded with azure waters, whitewashed Greek villages dotting the hillsides, and vistas of Greek islands just off the main coastline.
A great half-way stop for lunch was at Kalloni Royal Resort. The dining area on a breeze-filled patio overlooking a sparkling swimming pool filled with children’s laughter made for a refreshing place to rest and refuel with fresh grilled pork souvlaki and Greek salad.
We continued on towards the town of Galatas where we caught a short ferry across the bay to the tiny island of Poros. If ever there were an idyllic tourist picture of Greece, the view of Poros from the ferry is just that – a clock tower at the high point, white houses with red-slate roofs crowded together on the hills facing the sea connected by hidden narrow paths and stairways, and turquoise blue bay dotted with sailboats and yachts, and sandy beaches nestled in coves along the coastline – was the view from the ferry.
After cycling to our hotel, the Xenia Poros Image Hotel, we enjoyed late afternoon adult beverages, dips in the water, and several naps. We then showered, dressed for dinner, and cycled to a fish restaurant with tables strategically placed at the water’s edge for excellent views of the sunset. We enjoyed a romantic dinner, and toasted each other for this beautiful cycling experience.
Day 4 – Poros to Athens (10ish km – Hotel to ferry to train to bike shop)
We awoke early to catch the much-too-early 8:00 am ferry, the only ferry that would take our bikes during the busy summer tourist season, and slept on the short one-hour ride to Piraeus. We then cycled bikes to the Piraeus metro stop , rode until Theisse, retraced our ride around the Acropolis and returned our rental bikes to Athens by Bike.
This four-day add-on was a lovely compliment to our trip in Greece.
As always, there are some lessons learned and important notes about this trip.
1.It’s a little tricky to get to Corinth from Athens. The bicycle did NOT recommend cycling because of the traffic and drivers. Thus, the commute requires a transfer from the metro to the suburban trains and the transfer is not clearly marked and involves lots of stairs because of broken elevators.
2. There is a lot of truck traffic leaving Corinth and the road is narrow and/or overgrown with weeds, oleanders, and weeds. It’s rideable but not necessarily enjoyable.
3. The roads are hilly and can be steep and not for beginner riders. The rental bikes were adequate but geared more for local, city sightseeing, not really for long tours.
4. July is hot! May or October might be better months for a Greek tour.
5. We saw only four bicycles during our entire trip. 2 were farm workers and 1 was a cycle tourist from Albania who had just gotten chewed out for riding on the expressway (not allowed). In other words, it does not seem like drivers are accustomed to cyclists although this might be improving..hard to tell.