At times day-tripping from Loutraki turnes into an overnight trip. Such was the case when I visited the seaport of Patras, a two hour bus ride west of the Corinth Canal. I packed my day pack for the night and I was off.
I found an inexpensive room in a pension with a small deck overlooking a lively pedestrian street. The price was 20 Euros (US $22). Strolling after dark with the locals on this street was safe and delightful. The open-air sweet shops were particularly enticing.
Patras, the largest city in the Peloponnese, has over 3000 years of history. A commanding castle is its most striking feature, once you get past the sheer size of the ships which are sitting in port waiting to take passengers to Italy and various Greek islands.
As I wound my way up a hillside on the way to the castle, I passed numerous Roman ruins. They included a part of a stadium (built 80 – 90 AD), a public house, a Roman bath, and an ancient odeon (small theatre). The nicely restored Roman odeon, where concerts are performed in the summertime, was built before 160 AD.
A conversation I had with a local man revealed how home owners deal with the fact that Patras is sitting on an old Roman city. When a home owner wants to do a major renovation to their house, the city must excavate under the house before a permit is given. Once a permit is given, the home owner may be required to put some sort of cover over whatever ruins are found before they can renovate.
The Romans were the first to build a fort in Patras around 550 AD. Since then it was remodeled many times by the Byzantines, Venetians, and Turks. It was in use as a defensive position during WWII.
The phrase “sitting on a gold mine” has new meaning to me after visiting Patras. The Roman ruins in Patras are a gem.
I’m heading out on a flight to Rome now. As I locked up my friend’s flat in Loutraki, for the last time this morning, I felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend.