Before I left for Greece I wasn’t sure if this part of the journey would work out for me. To get to the Peloponnese from Athens I’ve always caught the bus. However, on this occasion it will be faster travelling by train. The Hellenic Train website I found to be a bit hit and miss. When I tried to pre-book tickets I just couldn’t get all the way to the end of the booking process. It did show me an itinerary however, for the three different trains I needed to catch from Athens Airport. It looked fine in principle but one of the connections gives me only 5 minutes. Now I don’t know the size of the station, which platform or even if the platforms are close to each other so this is the element of the unknown.
Anyway, I know a man that can help. A recent new addition to the concourse where you buy your train tickets is a travel information booth. It was there when I was in Athens last Autumn and is a useful addition service for anyone confused about the train or the metro. I ask the man if it is possible to get to Diakopto by this evening. He asks me to wait whilst he speaks to the lady at the ticket counter. He comes back looking positive and tells me that it is possible. He tells me to go and buy the tickets and then he will explain to me which stations I need to change at.
Oh ye of little faith! It is exactly the same itinerary that Hellenic Train website had given to me. The man hands me a map of the metro and train map and circles all the station that I need to change at. I need to catch the Suburban railway service to Kato Acharnes who’s final destination is Piraeus. When I get off the train I wait on the same platform where the train coming back from Piraeus will take me to Kiato. This was the touch and go bit. At least I don’t have to drag my luggage around a large train station. Once at Kiato I will have about 1 hour to wait before the train takes me to Diakopto. Simples!
One thing that I always do to give myself piece of mind is to ‘star’ any bus or train stops on Google maps just so that I know when to prepare to get off. The first train from the airport was very punctual and quite busy as rush hour is just about to commence. There is an automated voice announcing each station in Greek and then in English. We eventually came to a station that I was pretty confident was Kato Acharnes but there was no announcement. Very strange. Thankfully I had been following it on both Google Maps and the map I’d been given at the airport. I ask a lady next to me if was Kato Acharnes and it was. When in Greece have a plan – but always have a back up plan.
On the same platform but an another line I can see the illuminated display board which confirms that the next train will be going to Kiato. Five minutes later as scheduled it arrives and departs and it’s another busy train. One thing I like to do is to try and catch a video as we cross the Corinth Canal. I try and fail abysmally as I drop the camera just as the train flies over!
The next stop at Kiato is the end of the line so there’s no mistaking where to get off. There are about 50 people waiting to get on the train and lots of people get off. Down in the street below, I can see the Kiato – Patras bus which runs as an extension to this train line. Even though it would pass close to Diakopto on the way to Patras as far as I know this is an express service.
The man at the train station confirms that the next train to Diakopto leaves from this same platform in about 1 hour. At around 7pm or a little after, the train arrives. It is much less busy than the others but by now, night has fallen so there isn’t any view out of the windows. At Diakopto, a kindly elderly couple point me in the direction of an elevator because there is a steep set of steps to climb. Now to thumb in my abode for the night.
Bloody Google Maps. It sent me completely in the wrong direction to start with so it was about thirty minutes later when I arrived at the accommodation. I phoned the owner to come and let me in and 5 minutes later I was in my humble abode for the night. That was some hell of a journey and it has really taken it out of me. I will get a good night’s sleep and tomorrow I will take the rack and pin railway to Kalavryta – another two bucket list items!