Oh Corinth, what a place to visit! The mythology and history that surrounds it makes a day trip from Athens most necessary. Corinth was to the ancient world, as Paris is to Europe – a diverse, booming city filled with stunning architecture and sensual people.Numerous stories are associated with the name “Corinth”: the Fountain of Gluake, magical occurrences at the Temple of Apollo, the Apostle Paul’s judgement before Gallio under the Emperor Claudius, and being one of two cities, Rome the other, where “holy prostitution” occurred (all profits went to the temples). The things you learn.
We started the day at the Corinth Canal; quite a feat of engineering that occurred in 1881. It is 21 meters wide and is used primarily for shipping transit. I got a bit wheezy when looking down from the bridge over the canal; it’s quite a drop. But, it was worth it to see a shipping boat making its way through, you get a true visual for how narrow the canal is.From there we were off to the ancient ruins of Corinth. We passed olive tree farms and vineyards with views of the Sardonic Gulf on the way; these views provided stunning entertainment. Did you know that the average Greek person (according to the yearly census) consumes 25 kg of olive oil per year? And, that the current global produce exports from Greece consist mainly of oranges, raisins, lemons, olives, and olive oil? Locally, tobacco and wine are widely traded as well. We learned these little facts on the ride through the countryside. Our arrival in Corinth was accompanied with “oohs and awes” by all: we had massive ancient grounds to explore. Starting at the Fountain of Glauke, we learned the story of Glauke and Medea. Corinth was the exile point for Jason, Medea’s ex-husband. Medea, Jason’s first wife, was angry that she had been replaced (and was therefore herself being exiled). In retribution, she gave Jason’s new wife, Glauke, a cloak as a “gift”. But, this “gift”, was soaked in poison. Upon putting on the cloak, Glauke’s skin began to burn, so she jumped into a bath in an attempt to wash it off. But, it was too little, too late. From that point on, the fountain retained its name due to the ultimate betrayal that occurred there. Depressing, huh?Next, we stopped at The Temple of Apollo. Apollo was the son of Zeus and the god of many things in Greek mythology. He was the god of music and is often depicted playing a golden lyre. He was also known as “the Archer” who could shoot arrows further than anyone using a silver bow. He was the god of healing, giving the science of medicine to man. And, he was the god of truth and the god of light; one of Apollo’s most important daily tasks was to harness his four-horse chariot to move the sun across the sky.From there, we walked along the ruins of the Argos (city center) to the location that the Apostle Paul’s judgement before Gallio occurred. Paul had been preaching in Corinth for a year and half until some of the Jewish people in the city conspired against him and brought him before the Roman Proconsul, Gallio, for judgment. Gallio stated “he cared nothing for these things”, aka, he paid no regard to the uproar of St. Paul’s accusers. That was the end of it because under the Roman empire, religious free practice was tolerated. It was rumored that Paul was chained before his judgement from Gallio, but that remains disputed to this day. Regardless, the pillar where he was allegedly chained has nail hole where the chains would have been, interesting, no?Side note: There are lots of stray pups around the ruins in Corinth and once they latch onto you, there is no getting rid of them. We had two little guys following us around the entire tour. I loved it; they were true sweethearts:)Anyways, from there, we went into the Museum at Corinth to learn more about the history of the ancient city; there is so much to soak up. Then, in typical fashion, I went wandering to see what else I could find. Two women conducting architectural excavations was the first thing I stumbled upon, an ancient amphitheater the second, and a walkway to the sea, the third. Lovely treats if I do say so myself. We headed back to Athens post our “free time” by way of the sea. Again, we had stunning views (there is a theme emerging here). Along the way, our tour guide provided us with her recipes for Tzatziki and Greek salad and some suggestions of native Greek dishes to try while in town (Moussaka, Giouvesti and Frikase – always the lamb!). In Athens, I had a lovely late lunch of Saganaki (fried goat cheese), stuffed tomatoes and peppers, local white wine, and “on the house” orange cake for dessert…the Greek know how to do food.Post lunch, I went to the rooftop for some sun before meeting Ger for dinner. A Greek salad ensued as I was still stuffed from my late lunch, then we headed up to the hotel rooftop for a swim and to admire views of the city after dark. All in all, a lovely day spent in Greece. Agápi Greece!