Albanian Adventure Day 14: The Journey to Athens and The End

It was the last proper day of the tour today and we made our way to Corfu bus station which was like a free-for-all. People were driving the wrong way into the station then getting the whole place jammed, families were travelling with trolley loads of stuff as if they were moving house by local bus, and there was a general waft of vomit and bananas. Possibly banana vomit.

The coach itself wasn’t bad at all, and I passed the whole day long journey by sleeping, playing backgammon on my phone, eating snacks and staring out of the window daydreaming. I daydream all the time in normal life so don’t need an excuse to daydream while travelling.

When we arrived in Athens we had one short bus ride left to get to the hotel. Our tour leader warned us that the hotel was on the edge of a pretty rough area of town, and that when we get off the bus we just need to walk, follow him and keep going.

I knew we were in the right area when I looked out of the window to see a woman lying unconscious in a doorway and another woman sitting on a stationary motorbike swaying with her eyes rolling into the back of her head.

There were police everywhere, and a guy in a doorway said as we passed carrying our big bags, “Welcome to fucking Athens, the bullshit capital of the world.”

The Acropolis AthensThe hotel itself was really nice and had a roof terrace with a view of the Acropolis. It was really close to the centre of town, about a 2 minute walk away so we had dinner on a bustling street and I discovered that Greek yoghurt in England is absolutely nothing like real Greek yoghurt! Real Greek yoghurt was the dessert they gave us and it was divine; creamy with honey drizzled on top. Yum.

Athens City CentreWe congregated on the roof terrace for a final farewell, and the tour ended on a high. What a fantastic two weeks it’s been. I had never thought about going to Albania before I walked into the Intrepid shop in London a month or so before, but I am so glad I gave it a shot because it’s a beautiful, mountainous country with [mostly] friendly lovely people and so far almost untouched by tourism. I’ll have to return in 20 years’ time to see what’s changed.

My flight leaves early afternoon tomorrow so there won’t be time to enjoy the city, but luckily I’ve been here a couple of times before so I won’t be missing out.

 

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Albanian Adventure Day 13: Dasia, Corfu

Today was a free day in Corfu. For some reason my air conditioning sounded like a plane taking off so I decided to turn it off quite early in the morning by pulling out the plug, but within 2 minutes I was boiling hot and couldn’t find the remote, so searched around the room, by which point I was wide awake.

I took advantage of this by going for an early morning walk with my camera, and caught a beautiful red sunrise.

Dasia Sunrise, Corfu

Dasia Sunrise, CorfuI set off after breakfast to find the tourist information office but it was shut. One of the group had picked up some bus maps so we studied them, ruled out the waterpark because of its shoddy promotional photo that consisted of a kooky cartoon character and no indication of what the park actually looked like, and decided to get a local bus to Dasia where we’d been told there was a pebbly beach. Sandy beaches were the other side of the island and we weren’t too bothered either way.

The bus journey wasn’t bad and we met a lovely Irish lady who had been living there for 20 years. Life seemed to be good for her.

I’m not sure if we went all the way to Dasia but it felt like we were nearly there and lots of people were getting off so we got off too. We found a stretch of private beaches and lay down on some reasonably priced sunbeds at a nice looking bar. The sea was a lovely temperature and we took it in turns to have the shade of the parasol.

Greek Salad & MythosI of course had a Greek salad for lunch, and a fabulous Mythos, then we headed back to the hotel to get showered.

The hotel had a Backgammon board and I really wanted to learn how to play, so I bought some wine and snacks and fellow traveller Pat taught me. He had a LOT of patience. The more wine I drank the harder it was for me to make a decision where to move the pieces.

BackgammonI downloaded a free Backgammon app to my phone so I can practise more.

 

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Albanian Adventure Day 12: Corfu Old Town

The ferry terminal was right next door to our hotel which was rather convenient, so we shed our Albanian Lek by buying a truckload of snacks again and walked down to the port for passport checks, bag scans and a short wait for the ferry.

The journey took about half an hour and wasn’t too busy so the entrance into Greek territory didn’t take too long and we were at our hotel in Corfu Old Town in no time. We had an orientation walk and stopped for some lunch and of course local beer.

corfu beerIt was my aim on this holiday to have one Greek salad a day, and I excelled myself. Today was my first GREEK Greek Salad so extra delicious. If I had to have Greek Salad every single day of my life I’d be happy.

corfu old townCorfu Old Town is really pretty and reminded me of happy family holidays around the Med. ‘My Family and Other Animals‘ was set here and conjures up idyllic images of life on the island which have stayed with me since reading the book at school.

I’ve always been in love with Greece: the history, the Greek philosophers, the people, the atmosphere and the architecture. Greece is another place where if you show a bit of interest in the people they’re suddenly your best friend. Having said that I found London to be incredibly friendly most of the time when I lived there for a year. People told me it would be lonely and that people would be rude, but I discovered that as long as you make an effort, people make an effort back. I think that’s universal, but it’s just more obvious here in Greece and Albania.

old fortress corfuThe Old Fortress was constructed by the Venetians in the 1500s and boasts spectacular views of the town and coast apparently. We arrived in the hottest part of the day so I decided not to go up there and instead went for a swim in the crystal clear water below.

That evening we dined in a nearby restaurant where I sampled my first Moussaka of the trip. On a first day in Greece I think it’s essential to have a Greek Salad and a Moussaka but Christ the portions are big. They reeeeally love their Mousakka here. I think my portion was as big as my head.

I pretty much rolled back down the hill to the hotel.

 

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