The weather on Monday couldn’t have been more of a contrast to Sunday. Usual 07.30 start but this time cloudless blue sky and warm in the early morning sun. Brisk walk down to the harbour to use the restaurant WiFi before breakfast but this time including a wander around with the camera.
I tried to find the path up to the old medieval windmill on the headland but completely failed. I tried a few likely looking paths but they all terminated by gates at the entrance to houses. I followed one good path but as it gained height it simply led further away from the mill. Having said I would be back by 10.00 for breakfast I knocked it on the head and gave up. My rambling led nowhere.
Leisurely breakfast in the sun, packing and a bit of reading, then dinner in the sun and it was time to catch the dolphin (hydrofoil) to Corfu. The last time I travelled on a dolphin was from Symi to Rhodes to catch a flight home and it broke down in the middle of the sea in a swell. Not a pleasant experience at all. The air-conditioning didn’t work because there was no power with the engine malfunctioning so the long, thin, metal cigar-tube shaped craft not only got oppressively hot but wallowed like a sick whale. Many if not all of that generation of dolphins have now been taken out of service in Greece and probably sold on to the Philippines where the old cross channel ferries ended up when Greek shipping companies had had them written off as unsafe. This was a brand new craft, though superficially it looked identical in every respect.
The main difference seemed to be in the loading and unloading procedure. For a start there was no physical contact between the stubby fin on the side which serves as a ‘gangplank’ and the quayside. Many overweight, middle-aged Brits seemed to find this a problem and so clung onto the helping arm proffered by the beefcake matelot or the young blonde matelette (I may claim origination of this term which as far as I know is unheard of in English or any other language) depending upon gender and orientation.
Anything bigger than a handbag or small rucksack was taken from you and stacked neatly by the staff rather than the previous system of leaving it to the devices of passengers all of whom sought to place their lumbering Big Bags in the entrance way on the basis of ease of access at the other end. This management technique had simply produced untidy and unstable piles which collapsed if any rough seas were encountered en route and caused delays at the disembarkation points as passengers scrambled over a mountain of cases trying to rescue their own irrespective of where it was in the tangled mass. Under the new system, when the destination is reached staff simply manhandled all the bags on to the quayside for passengers, all of whom had already gone ashore, to reclaim. It didn’t need a brain the size of planet to work out what the system was and to conclude that last-on would be first to reclaim their bags. Worked a charm. My bag was third off.
Though the sea was pretty calm there was enough wave activity to render the dolphin liable to skit around once it achieved maximum speed so arm grabbing and other intimate contact was more pronounced from disoriented dodderers getting off than there had been getting on.
But the journey had only taken an hour and I was out of the harbour before anyone else. There was an immediate contrast with anywhere else I had been with all the bustle and chaos of a large town. Quite disorienting.
And that was when things fell apart. I had been unable to make phone contact with the friend I was to meet and so the offer of being picked up came to nothing. I used the taverna WiFi at the passenger terminal to e-mail the hotel where we were to stay but got no reply. After hanging around an hour, by which time it was 18.30 I set out to find the bus station only to be told that there wasn’t a bus service going closer than 8 kms to the village I was heading for and that anyway the next one was tomorrow.
So nothing for it but to bite the bullet. Find a hotel or take a taxi. Enquiry indicated that the taxi fare was €45 which would have been more or less the same as a hotel nevermind the cost of a bus and a taxi the next day. On top of that my arrival on Corfu had already been delayed 3 days because of the enforced change of plan so I went for it and took a taxi the 32 kms to the village of Boukaris on the East coast in the South of the island.
The taxi dropped me at the hotel where I had a sort of reservation and I met up with Elisabeth, the friend from Munich we met on Nisyros many years ago.
Tuesday we start exploring Corfu ….. and trying to find a WiFi connection I don’t have to pay for!!