Piraeus, Greece, the port for Athens, was the second stop on our Royal Caribbean cruise last summer. Therese’s mom, Eileen, had the idea that instead of taking an excursion into Athens, we should hire a car to take us to Corinth. After some research, we contacted George’s Taxi Service and arranged to take a daytrip, stopping at the Corinth Canal and Ancient Corinth, eating lunch at Marinos Restaurant in Corinth, and then visiting the Palivos Estate winery, before returning to Piraeus.
Demetrios of George’s Taxi met us right where we got off the boat first thing in the morning, and our adventure began. Our first stop was the Corinth Canal, built in the 19th century, which is just a photo opportunity. Demetrios parked at a strip mall just beyond the canal and gave us time to take some pictures, and also to get some refreshment in a market there.
A little while later, we arrived at our next stop, the main sight for the day, Ancient Corinth and, looming above the Greek ruins, Acrocorinth. Corinth was to be the first of 3 sights of ancient ruins that we would see on our cruise (the other two being Ephesus and the Island of Delos). While modest in size compared to the other two, Corinth’s ruins are concise and well laid out. To get to the outdoor sight, you pass through the Archeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, where all the most well-preserved statues and mosaics are kept. Then you leave the museum, walk out into the sunshine, and it is as if you have stepped backward into the remote past. The sight is covered with the remnants of numerous buildings, the most famous of which is the Temple of Apollo. Therese, Eileen and I had the sight almost to ourselves, and wandered around examining the grounds.
As we walked around the ruins, our eyes were repeatedly drawn to the hill above Ancient Corinth, Acrocorinth, with its fortifications. I hoped that we would have a chance to see the top of the hill closer up, and my wish was granted. Demetrios drove up the winding road around the hill, and we got out of the car and took in a glorious view of the Gulf of Corinth. Still further above us were the Medieval fortifications, built into the apex of the hill. Demetrios told us that climbing all the way to the top would take the rest of the day. While part of me desperately wanted to make the climb, common sense told me that I was better off just admiring it from below. After all, lunch time was fast approaching. So after getting our fill of the gorgeous view, we allowed Demetrios to drive us back down into modern Corinth for lunch.
Little did we know that for lunch, Demetrios was taking us to the best restaurant on a block full of them. Marinos Restaurant was delightful. We enjoyed standard Greek fare – Eileen had Moussaka and I had Souvlaki with salad, hold the yogurt (I’ve forgotten what Therese ordered). The restaurant was open to the outside, with a lovely view of Acrocorinth, but it was nevertheless nice and cool, a needed break from the heat of the day. For dessert, the waiter brought me a bowl of fresh sliced strawberries, a nice conclusion to the meal.
After lunch, we rode to Palivos Estate Winery in the Nemea Wine Roads region. There, we were ushered into the tasting room, where we got to try 6 different kinds of wine. The tasting started with white wine, then moved to rose, and concluded with red. No surprises there. The surprise was the overall taste of the wines: very different than the wines we are used to drinking, very minerally.
We liked them enough that we decided to buy a bottle of their spiciest red wine – I believe it was the Ammos Reserva Terra Leone. We took that bottle of wine with us for the rest of our journey, from the cruise to Istanbul and home to New York City. When we finally drank it with a nice meal weeks later, all the smells and tastes of that fun day in Corinth came back to us.