Great Continental Railway Journeys

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Athens to Thessaloniki

Series 4 - Episode 4 Athens to Thessaloniki



After a brief rest last week, Michael Portillo returns to travel the train tracks of Greece starting with a brief history lesson in Athens. Before heading north for Delphi, he sails through the impressive Corinth Canal, which surprisingly has an ancient link to Greek railways, and learns the 1920 expansion of the Greek railway network caused the country to go bust. “History repeats itself,” says his modern-day guide sagely.

And, always game for a laugh, Portillo pops on a pair of shorts to re-enact Chariots of Fire, stumbles through the steps of Zorba the Greek and dons an unflattering shower cap to bake some syrupy-sweet baklava.


Michael Portillo embarks on a Greek odyssey from the Athens port of Piraeus, north to the city of Thessaloniki, exploring the Acropolis and sampling moussaka and baklava on the way. He also discovers the parlous state of Greek finances at the time of his 1913 Continental Railway Guide, and learns how an aristocratic English poet became a Greek national hero.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Michael Portillo
Executive Producer John Comerford
Series Producer Alison Kreps