Aegean Again

Well, here we are on the other side of the Aegean Sea. We weren’t particular about our accommodations last night, simply looking for somewhere with A/C, a hot shower and comfortable beds, but it turned out we got a nice view, too, though we didn’t really know it until this morning.

We started the day by backtracking a few miles to see the Corinth Canal which, technically, turned the Peloponnesian Peninsula into an island. The isthmus that connected Peloponnese with the rest of Greece is only 6 kilometers (about 4 miles) wide at its narrowest point.

This fact was not lost on the ancient Greeks, who, in the 6th century B.C., built a ship “railway,” called the Diolkos, across the isthmus from the Ionian Sea (via the Gulf of Corinth) on the north to the Aegean Sea (via the Saronic Gulf) on the south, shortening the shipping distance between those points by 430 miles.

The Diolkos only worked for small vessels which would be unloaded, then put on wooden rollers and pulled across the isthmus to the other side, where they would be launched and reloaded. The Greeks, and later, the Romans, wanted to build a canal here, rather than a ship railway, but they lacked the technical ability to do so, although an effort was made by Roman Emperor Nero in the 1st century A.D.

But, by the late 1800s, the ability to cut a canal through rock rising as much as 300 feet above sea level did exist and, in 1893, the Corinth Canal opened.

We were lucky to see a vessel making the trip through the canal. The canal is so narrow that ships can only go through one at a time.

And there they go: back again to the Aegean!

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