Greece Part 1 – Corfu

Day 61: May 12, 2018

Leaving for Greece today! I feel a bit anxious. We’ve been stationary for a bit and I’ve grown accustomed to the way of life in the Baltics. Greece will be a different experience.

We slept in and ate our remaining food. Only a few items needed to go in the trash. We caught an Uber around 10:00 am for a 30 minute ride to the airport. We checked in, went through security and spent our remaining kuna on a lunch of Greek salad and burek. We managed to time everything just right. Usually we get to the airport way too early.

We arrived in Rome after an hour flight and got through customs fairly quickly. It then took awhile to get our bags. We went out the doors to say we were in Rome and then tried to drop our bags. We were about an hour early so we had to sit and wait. We’ve learned that you usually aren’t allowed to drop your bags until two hours before the flight.

When the hour was up we were first in line to drop our bags and then we went through security. On the other side we found a place to sit and I called my friend Caitlin to talk about our trip plans when she meets us in Athens. She was worried about what to pack, but also wanted to check how much we were sending back with her so she had enough space.

After the call we got burgers for supper. Our flight was delayed an hour due to a strike in France. I went for a walk and found lots of shops and a couple of gelaterias. I thought about buying some gelato, but then decided it wasn’t fair.

We got on the plane and I was able to sleep for a bit. Once we landed in Corfu, we got our bags and walked through customs to scout out a place to lay down. We found some benches near the check-in counters. The benches were metal with holes again, similar to Riga airport. This time we laid down our jackets to provide some insulation. We also had our earplugs and face masks ready. I called my family for a bit, but the internet wasn’t too great. Then I tried to sleep.

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Merai ready for sleep in Corfu airport
Day 62: May 13, 2018

At around 4:30 am I woke up and went for a walk to warm up. It was warmer than sleeping in Riga airport, but the metal was still cold. I sat and typed for our blog until Danny finally woke up. We bought some spinach pies for breakfast then went to meet the car rental representative at the arrivals at 9:00 am. He drove us to their office about five minutes away.

We now have a Suzuki Alto which is the worst car we have had so far. The worst part is there is no USB connection so we can’t listen to our music.

We stopped at a kiosk on our way out of the town of Corfu to buy a new SIM card. Trying to communicate without knowing the language is difficult. As English speakers, we are so dependent on others knowing at least some English. I had to sign up for the SIM card with my identification card. It was interesting because the form also asked for my father’s name. I’m starting to know what to ask with new SIM cards: “Do I need to send a text to get internet?”, “Do I need to load money onto it?”, “Is there a pin to unlock it?”, etc.

I got it working and then it stopped. I figured out that I needed to use the money I had loaded on to buy a package. It was 7 days, 3 MB for 4 euros.

We drove to a grocery store in Palaiokastritsas where we are staying. There were fresh fruits and vegetables, but not much selection. We bought enough for a day thinking we will be able to find a larger store later.

Further up the road was the Paleokastritsa Monastery. There was a beautiful view out to the sea. The water was so blue and so clear. We both wanted to jump in the water immediately, especially with the heat.

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View of the Ioannian Sea from Paleokastritsa Monastery

We drove up the road to find our Airbnb which always seems to be a struggle. We asked at the pool if they knew where it was and the bartender was actually the person that showed us the place. The owner’s were away so she was helping out.

The wifi is not very good here, but she said that we could use the pool’s wifi. We unpacked our groceries and ate leftover pasta for lunch. I laid down on the bed and ended up sleeping for five hours. I was exhausted from not sleeping the night before. Sleeping in the airport seems like it will save so much money, but it eats up so much time because I get so behind on sleep.

For supper, we had smokies in croissants with fried onion and peppers on the patio with a very sweet red wine. After some reading we went to sleep.

Day 63: May 14, 2018

We slept in and had yogurt, strawberries and cereal for breakfast. We drove up the hill to Angelokastro, a Byzantine castle, at the top of a hill with very steep cliffs.

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Angelokastro

The castle never fell despite many groups trying to conquer it. It is suspected to have first been fortified by the Byzantines between the 5th-7th centuries AD. There was a nice view to the bay where we are staying and you could even see the beach. There was an underground chapel with some interesting artwork and another chapel further up as well.

We watched some ants trying to bring a shell into their mound for much longer than we expected. The rain clouds were moving in so we walked back down to the car. It started pouring rain just as we reached the car.

We drove to another town where Google said there was a grocery store, but it was just souvenir shops. I bought some baklava which was super sweet. We drove on and stopped at a gas station to buy some apples for our next stop: Corfu Donkey Rescue.

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Corfu Donkey Rescue

We were greeted by a very friendly orange cat. We walked through the gate and a volunteer met us to explain what was up. We were petting the donkeys, but I had my lunch in my bag so they kept nudging at it. We sat at a table out of the penned area and ate lunch. Cats came and sat with us.

After lunch, we took a donkey for a walk, but she mostly ate the grass. We pet the cats that came over. One orange cat was super funny trying to chase a piece of grass, total Gunther moves, jumping all around, but not catching anything.

We went back in and brushed the donkeys. Then we sat back down with the cats. One really cuddled in and was even drooling. The donkeys were cool, but I liked petting all the cats more.

As we were about to leave, they brought out a newborn donkey, only a day old. It was running all around its pen while its mom stood by.

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Day old donkey

We reluctantly left and stopped at another grocery store which was also very small. They seem to have lots of “supermarkets”, but they are really all small corner stores.

I updated our expenses and Danny called the visa company. It all seems to be sorted out now. I made a Greek salad for lunch tomorrow and Danny made pasta with sausages for supper. Then we went to bed.

Day 64: May 15, 2018

Rainy day today so we took a road trip after breakfast. Our first stop was an old Venetian shipyard/arsenal in Godiva. It was also where the Serbian army debarked in 1916 in WWI.

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Old Venetian shipyard/arsenal

Our next stop was Old Perithea. The village dates to the 14th century and hosts about 130 semi-ruined houses near Mount Panokrator, the highest mountain on Corfu.

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Old Perithea

We stopped for a tea near the entrance so we could use the washroom. We then realized we only had a 50 euro bill to pay with. The manager was not very pleased especially when I laughed at the awkwardness of the situation.

We ate lunch in the car then walked around the village. There were a few occupied homes, but not very many. We found one house that had vines growing everywhere. It reminded me of “Ever After” when Drew Barrymore meets up with the Prince and they are chatting.

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Abandoned house in Old Perithea

It started pouring rain so we stood under the trees until it let up. We walked back to the car and drove on to Sidar. We walked up the main touristy strip that had a whole bunch of shops. We stopped at an arcade and played air hockey and foosball. When I was done losing, we went back to the car and drove to Canal d’Amour Beach. A van drove by with fruit as we were walking and they listed their items. We stopped them and bought cherries and a quarter of a watermelon for 10 euro. We paid way too much, but it was too tempting.

Canal d’Amour Beach is set between two cliffs. The beach was small and the water was very silty. There were some nice hotels with pools surrounding it.

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Canal d’Amour Beach

From there we drove back home. Danny made chicken, rice and eggplant with tomato for supper. We ate out on the deck. There are a lot of stray cats here. The one in this territory is pretty rough looking; he’s seen some things.

Day 65: May 16, 2018

We had our typical breakfast of yogurt, berries and cereal and then got ready for hiking followed by a beach day. We drove to Kaiser’s Throne which was built for Kaiser Wilhelm II who liked to spend his summers there between 1908 and WWI.

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Kaiser’s Throne

Danny had understood it was a hike up, but we drove basically right to it. There was a panoramic view of the island. It would have been beautiful at sunset. We were able to see the sea in three directions: east, west and south. To the north was a mountain range including the highest peak on the island. To the east we could see mainland Greece and Albania across the sea.

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View of Albania/Mainland Greece from Kaiser’s Throne

With the extra time from not hiking, we stopped at a store and bought condensed milk to add to the leftover rice from the night before to make rice pudding. We also bought sun screen and olives. We drove to Mirtiotissa Beach which was for nudists only. We are truly embracing the culture.

We walked down to the beach which had a small sandy section with rocks and cliffs on either side. We found a spot in the sun and settled in. We rented two beach chairs for three euro each to avoid getting too sandy.

The water was glorious! There was a sand bar out from the beach and the water was crystal clear. We forgot our books so we just went in and out of the water. There was a little bit of wave there so it was fun. The beach did get a little busy, but not awful. We didn’t take any pictures, but I wish we would have to show how beautiful it was. The temperature was perfect: around 24 degrees Celsius.

We drove home and showered then went down to the pool bar. I got a strawberry daiquiri and Danny got a beer. We came back home and I made ramen for supper. We ate out on the deck again and a different kitty came to visit. We gave him some tuna, but it didn’t let Danny pet him. I made rice pudding for dessert. It’s always a bit hard to make things without the proper ingredients, but I did what I could.

Day 66: May 17, 2018

We woke up and had eggs and toast for breakfast. Then we drove into Corfu town. We walked to the spa I had booked into. Danny left to go explore the town and I started with a pedicure. I had some time before my massage so I sat on their balcony. The owner came to chat with me about how I found out about the place. He didn’t seem to get my humour. I would make a joke and there was no acknowledgement of it. Strictly business, but still pleasant.

After my massage I went downstairs for a hair cut. The girl cutting my hair didn’t speak English, but her co-worker was able to translate.

Following my hair cut I walked around the streets of the old town a bit. I went into some shops, but the clothes weren’t really my style. For lunch I had a pork gyros wrap. It had tzatziki, lettuce, tomato and fries with a tomatoey sauce and seasoning salt. It was really tasty although the fries seemed odd. I also bought a circular shortbread cookie with cinnamon sugar. Also very yummy.

I walked around the streets and started getting very hot. I bought a scoop of strawberry sorbet and as I was walking I ran into Danny earlier than we had planned to meet. We got him some gelato and chatted about what he had seen.

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Saint Michael and Saint George Palace

We walked around the old town a bit more. I bought a postcard and Danny showed me some small guitars and a chess board made from olive wood.

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Streets of Old Town Corfu

Danny had visited the new Venetian fortress, but we walked over to the old Venetian fortress together. It dates back to the mid-6th century AD when the inhabitants moved onto the peninsula. The Byzantines walled the peninsula and built towers. The current form of the fortress is from the Venetian rule (1386-1797). They used it as defence against Ottoman attacks.

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Old Venetian fortress

From the top there was a view of the old town and the harbour.

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View of Old Town from the old Venetian fortress

On our walk out we saw the Church of Saint George, which was built when the island was a British protectorate (1815-1864).

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Church of Saint George

Danny was tired after a long day of walking so we went for supper. I had a pork roast and Danny had Greek ratatouille. After supper, we got into the car and drove to a kiosk to reload the SIM card. I was uploading pictures to Dropbox and it used up all the data. We drove home and Danny called his parents. Early to bed to get up early for our flight to Athens.

We enjoyed our relaxing time in Corfu. The things we had planned were not must sees we were able to do what we felt like each day. I would label Corfu as a has-been island as there were lots of abandoned hotels and buildings. There was also no garbage collection the entire time we were there and the bins were overflowing. We really didn’t mind being on a less busy island as it meant it was less touristy. It was also very good for beach days.

Next up, we are meeting my friend Caitlin in Athens to do some exploring of mainland Greece!

M

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