Toll free is the way to be

Monday means a return to Athens via Mycenae and Korinth. In celebration of National Monument Day we luck out with free entry to the site (normally €8). After reviewing the bus schedules to Delphi for the following day, we decide to keep the car. The ability to come and go as we please, stopping for a beautiful church here or a curious sign there – so worth it.

Mycenae is enveloped in tourbuses and crawling with French kids presumably on an excursion. We wander through the ruins detouring each time they cross our paths, loud and oblivious to the fact that other people are trying to read signs or take photos. I am at my limit when I am forced to clear my throat in an effort to encourage a young girl to please remove her feet from the sign I am trying to read. The sigh she heaves is larger than life, as I am an incredible inconvenience.

Korinth is sad and devoid of English. In typical fashion, Thao and I provide great entertainment for the locals who are blatantly curious about the petite Asian and tall blonde. We dip into a bakery for some sustenance, forgetting our intention of a leisurely lunch by the water.

Motoring on to Athens we attempt to find the Korinth Canal, a four mile long stretch of water that is barely wide enough to permit freighters. We nearly fly right past it and screech into a parking lot. Walking out onto the bridge we see a bungee jumping set up and raise our eyebrows at each other. But it’s far too windy and far too cold.. or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. The walls are over 300 ft and they were built over a hundred years ago by the Hungarians. Grabbing two freddos to go from a roadside cafe, we commiserate with a family from Texas who are traveling with a group of 8. The frazzled mother details a stressful day of unsuccessful sightseeing, and I admit we just came from where they were trying to go. We take solace in our cappuccinos and our trusty maps, bidding them a good journey.

We go toll free on the way back into the city, and the view is stunning. An enormous expanse of water stretches alongside the car, and mountains flank our other side. The word we use the most while driving is “fake” because the natural beauty is so mindblowing it can’t be real.

Our vocabulary changes significantly and becomes a great deal more colorful as we descend into Athens. Unbeknowst to us, a political rally is taking place in Syntagma Square, resulting in a incredible snarl of traffic and hostile motorists. After a white knuckle drive through the city, we park on some random corner and stalk to the Hotel Metropolis. It is pure karma that a private parking space for guests exists in front of the building and we drop our things only to go back to the car and begin again. Standing with the city map spread out on the car, a kind English speaking gentleman asks us if we need help. I could kiss him. We are equally fortunate when a policewoman at a catastrophic intersection answers my questions and points us in the right direction. Thank god for people like these.

We dive into pasta and salad at an Italian restaurant and come up for air only after plowing halfway through two desserts. At this point we would not be disappointed if we never saw another map or ruin ever again. But we will, tomorrow.

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