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September 24, 2011 (Day 4)
Itinerary: Cycle Greece Day 1, meet at Athens Piraeus port, ferry to Methana, cycling from Methana to Epidavros to old Epidavros Theater, drive from theater to Nafplio
Trip odometer: 34.5 miles
Moving time: 3hrs 37 min
Stopped time: 43 min
Max elevation: 1123 feet
Min elevation: 0 feet, sea level
Weather: hot at 90-98 degrees
Terrain: several climbs and descents
We found it extremely easy to take the metro to the Piraeus port in Athens. There were no strikes today and the metro was very nice looking and clean overall. We meet CycleGreece at the port at 9am and soon met our cycling buddies. There are 5 of us tourists on the trip, one CycleGreece staff, Colleen, leading our bike ride, and another CycleGreece staff, Pete in the support vehicle. We make a perfect little group of 7 and we all get along remarkably well.
The ferry taking us to Methana was an easy 2 hours on which we had a Greek lesson from Colleen and Pete and learned more about the alphabet than how it applies to math, physics, and engineering. We learned a few Greek words as well which we promptly forgot.
Our bikes fit pretty well. We brought out own bike saddles, and they did a good job fitting the bikes to us. My bike feels very close to the one I have at home as it is almost the same brand and model.
Our ride was gorgeous riding through the Greece countryside. The majority of the ride was along the coast to Epidavros with the water that typical deep Greece blue down below. On our left were the mountains and during the longer climbs, I stopped to take many photos looking down to the coast. The climbs were tough to handle on essentially our second day in Greece, but the downhills made up for it as we flew down the road. Our pit stops were located either along the side of the road at an interesting site or once at a little supermarket where I bought some chocolate milk to share with Mark.
I did get a flat tire at one point, but with the support vehicle right behind me it got changed extremely fast. I felt like I was on the Tour de France or something because I just got a new wheel rather than sitting there on the side of the road changing the tube. It is nice to have a support vehicle following us with all the luggage and ready to help us with any bike issues. For the most part the 6 of us stayed fairly close together.
At the end of the ride we stopped at the Epidavros ruins where we saw the museum and theater. The theater is amazingly well built with acoustics unlike any we’ve every seen before. There is a round orchestra, or stage, at the bottom and then a half circle of seats and steps are built into the slope going up around the stage. If you stand in the center of the stage, even talking in a whisper or normal voice, you can hear that voice throughout the entire theater that holds 15,000 people! We did a clap test and could even feel the echo reverberate back to us. It was built in 400 BC and really is an engineering marvel!
The Epidavros heritage area is known for its healing powers and the theater was mostly built for the sick people in the hospital to attend and improve their well-being. We had a private tour with a local tour guide and learned too much information to retain just after biking 35 miles in the mountains. =)
What a great day of cycling and tomorrow should be a bit easier with mostly flat cycling. For dinner our group went out to a restaurant in Nafplio near our hotel where we shared all kinds of appetizers and main dishes so that we all had a chance to sample and taste everything. This is a great way to eat Greek food and find out what we like. Nafplio is a cute little tourist town mostly full of local tourists. Once again we are surrounded by laughing children playing in the streets, happy couples walking along window shopping, and lots of smiles all around. We are off to a great start on our vacation.