One Flight Down, One To Go

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Windsor Castle in evening sun

Here we are in Eton at The Crown and Cushion (just a short stroll over the bridge into Windsor with its wedding reminders in all the shop windows) spending the night before our final flight that will take us back to Seattle.

Our flight from Corfu to London was glorious.  I had a window seat and the sky was largely clear.  The Dolomites were spectacular in the bright evening sun and coming into Heathrow from the east we flew directly over London and I could see it all: From the ancient bridges to the London Eye.  I don’t think I have ever experienced that before; it was amazing.

But the main reason I’m posting this is to report that Michael fell out of bed last night.  Is this the beginning of the end for the poor old geezer?  No damage done thankfully.  Apparently, he was too close to the edge of our queen size bed, developed a horrible cramp in his leg and over he went! Snatched all the sheets off the bed, which was no big loss seeing as how yesterday was a record-setting hot day for London (86 degrees)

Flight today leaves at 3:25 p.m.  We’re on our way home, so, we just want to be home.  Dr. appointment at 2 Wednesday afternoon.

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Corfu Final Impressions: Addendum

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I can’t believe I forgot to include this in my Corfu Final Impressions post:

Royal Ionian Ginger Ale!!

It is fabulous and, if it isn’t imported into the US, it should be. Gingery and slightly lemony, just scrumptiously refreshing.  Tsitsibira or ginger beer is another name and another brand, but the Royal Ionian is our favorite.

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Final Corfu (Greece) Impressions

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Do I ever begin a final reflections or impressions post with something other than the people?  I don’t think so.  And so it is with Corfu (Greece).

All of the Corfiots we have met during our 11 days here have been welcoming and friendly.  Mr. He-speaks-English-no-problem, whose name turned out to be something very Greek like Spiros, did speak English and everything we asked of him did, in fact, turn out to be no problem. I could easily spend a week at his simple but comfortable hotel on the sea in Paramonas.  I would hope, however, that the mountains of sea weed that were washed up on the shore while we were there would find a different beach on which to settle.  Even Mr. You-asked-for-separate-beds at Hotel Levant, whose name I never did learn, in Pelekas sort of warmed up to us by the end of our three nights there.

The joy of Athena at Corfu Pearl near Liapades when she presented us with the large green figs will remain with me as typifying the reception we encountered along our journey here.

And, not the least for coming last in this recollection, discovering new places with my sweetie pie and an old friend (as in friend of long standing) is always wonderful.

The Corfu countryside is diverse and beautiful.  As spectacular as the coastal views are, I think than my favorite memories will be of walking under the huge canopies of the unpruned olive trees as we made our way along mossy walled groves of trees.

Much of our walking was along parts of the Corfu Trail or the Corfu Mountain Trail.  Even with our excellent walking notes and our excellent note reader/interpreter, it was always reassuring when we encountered one of the Corfu Trail markers where it was supposed to be.

The food we have had has been delectable whether from a corner café, hotel restaurant or taverna.  The grilled meats, pork, chicken or lamb, are yummy and it is beginning to be hard to imagine a meal that doesn’t begin with tzatziki and good bread or a breakfast that doesn’t include the soft, sort of billowy, yogurt and delicious honey that are a feature of every breakfast buffet.

Having time to notice small things has been a gift.  Whether it was a butterfly on a flower or a bird by the pool or a shadow cast on a wall, the luxury of time to observe was a wonderful gift to ourselves.

My only frustration was one that I brought with me:  My strange and continuing mouth/lip issues.  This evening, when we arrive in London, I will call my doc and make an appointment for the very day we get back to Salem.  I can assure you that if my doc tells me that this is an issue that could be resolved easily by any pharmacist I will NOT be passing that information along to Michael.

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A Lazy Day Around Peroulades

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Very little walking involved today.  Turns out the village of Peroulades has little to offer in the way of distractions. We did find two sort of fly specked shops of sorts and I was able to purchase a couple bags of potato chips and a couple bottles of Coca Cola.

We spent a delightfully relaxing day loafing around the Hotel de Loulia’s pool, enjoying the grounds, buying some luscious peaches, nectarines and dark cherries from the fruit and vegetable peddler who stopped just outside the hotel gates, and, finally, walking to the Bikolos Taverna for dinner.

Friday night’s special was pork on the spit and it was delicious.  I had visions of an entire pig being roasted over the coals but, instead, it was chunks of pork grilled over the coals.  Delectable but not quite the succulent slices and crispy skin over which I had begun to salivate.  Portions at Bikolos Taverna are enormous as they have been everywhere we have eater in Corfu.  I thought large portions were a uniquely USA phenomenon but, apparently, I was wrong about that as I am about so many things.

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Mud flaps or Lips?

Friday, June 22, Villa de Loulia.

Yesterday, I awoke for this first time with lips of an almost normal size.  Hooray, thought I, perhaps my strange lips/mouth/tongue issue is beginning to resolve itself.  But, NO, this morning I awoke to what Michael lovingly calls my mud flap lips.  Puffier than ever.  When I spoke, I sounded like some cartoon character.  Don’t know which one but one that would be mocked mercilessly.

Now, instead of resolving themselves, I’m beginning to hope that they don’t so that I can see my doctor and maybe find out what the problem is/was.

Enough for ill health and, mercifully for you, no photo to attach.

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Corfu: Walking-Day Five

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The end is in sight!

Liapades to Agios Georgios

Route info: 14.8 km/6hrs 10mins; total ascent 480 m, total descent 570m.

Although yesterday, Thursday, June 21, was just our fifth walking day, by the time we were halfway done if felt as if we had been walking for a week and by the time we reached our destination I felt as though I was beginning to get a glimpse of what those on the Bataan Death March must have gone through.  I know that must be horribly politically incorrect but it felt like a near death experience to me.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The day began innocently enough with an early, in our room, breakfast because we wanted to get underway by 9 a.m., which is when the regular breakfast begins.  After taking our bags to the reception area, I wandered about the grounds of the Corfu Pearl and took a few photos.  The day did feel humid but was still coolish.

We retraced our steps up to the village square of Liapades and then headed into terra incognita down to the Liapades beach, which is lovely, small and colorful.  Then it began: UP UP UP.  Hand over hand over hand. Then we got to the short ladder and rope to get us up one particularly precipitous piece. And then it was DOWN DOWN DOWN. If one were not careful, it would have been ass over teakettle.  Humidity very high, bodies soaking and clothes sticking.  Sticker bushes sticking, too.

Many spectacular views to the multicolored sea below.

Some beautiful walking through terraced, shaded, ancient olive groves. Some spirit-sucking walking down dry, shadeless white roads. Some villages. Some resting spots. But relentlessly onward.

Joan was our walking notes reader and she did an extraordinary job.  Even when sweat was pouring into her eyes and over her glasses, she correctly interpreted every twist and turning point of our walk.

We opted not to take the deviation to Angelokastro; one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu.  It was the official capital of Corfu from 1387 to the end of the 16th century. It didn’t matter; there was NO way we were going to add another km or two to our day’s trudge.

After 10.3 km on Inntravel’s notes or 11.5 on Joan’s magic watch, we reached a “dramatic cleft in the escarpment.”  We did reach it and it was dramatic.  And, the best thing was that it marked the beginning of a long (4 km plus) descent to our destination for the day, Agios Georgios.

The descent was primarily without shade and over broken pavement and then stones.  Attention was required for each footstep and we had to remind ourselves to look up occasionally to admire the splendid views before us.

The last part of our walk was just above the beach at Agios Georgios at about 4 p.m. and looking at the fundamentally naked people sprawled on the sand absorbing the sun almost tipped me over into sun stroke.

We found the Panorama Taverna, where we were to be picked up by the taxi transporting our bags to our hotel, Villa de Loulia, in Peroulades.  (It is too far to walk all the way from Liapades to Peroulades.  If we wanted, however, we could have had the taxi driver pick us up this morning, transport us back to Agios Georgios and then walked this second half.)

You will not be surprised to learn that we opted out.  Instead, I m writing this while sitting in the shade by the swimming pool, listening to the many birdies swooping and sweeping across the sky and smelling the faint perfume of the jasmine (?) drifting over the water from the pool bar.

Route info according to Joan’s magic watch: 15.25km, 61 flights of stairs . . . let’s just say we walked our hearts out and our feet off.  But we are proud to have done it all and to have done it in good spirits. Joan said she got cranky at one point but I didn’t notice it and I think she is falling into that bad habit of hers of being too hard on herself.

I am attaching a lot of photos of yesterday’s exploits because it might very well be our last day of walking.  We do have two full days here, however, so, who knows? we may venture out for a short stroll later.

 

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Around Liapades

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Athena and her glorious figs

Note that I am not calling today a walking day even though we did walk almost 3 km in the heat and humidity and uphill both ways (well, maybe not that last thing).

Very leisurely morning with a breakfast that included the most delicious yogurt I have ever consumed in my life.  It is to what is called “Greek” yogurt in the states what fresh asparagus is to canned asparagus.  Practically no comparison.

Today, we spent time by the pool and Joan spent time in the pool doing more laps. It must be wonderful to know how to really swim: Legs, arms and head all moving in synchronicity.  I’ve never experienced it and, at this point of my life, feel certain that I never will.  Still, I can admire it when I see it done as well as Joan does it.

A little after two (I think) we headed out to walk up to the village of Liapades, which is just over a km from our hotel. To be precise, it is 1.22 km from our hotel to the village square.  The village is tiny but there were three cafes on the square.  We picked one and had a delightful lunch of souvlaki, tzatziki, pita bread, baked feta cheese and Greek salad.  Headed back to the hotel with a detour to the “big” supermarket, “big” being a very relative term.

Arrived back soaked from the humidity and sweat.  As soon as I was in the room, I peeled off my clothes and did a quick sink laundry.  Hung things out on our second floor balcony to dry only to watch the thunderstorm of the day roll in. Before I could retrieve my clothes, the wind had knocked over the coat rack on which I had draped them and one pair of undies had gone missing!  I had visions of my extra large granny panties landing on someone sitting on the terrace below.  I am happy to report that when it was finally safe to venture outside to track them down, I found them hanging from a large bump in the stucco finish of the wall beneath our room.

When we went up to the lounge area for our evening cocktails, Athena, our host, brought us gorgeous, enormous, green figs that her mother had just picked.  Athena was so excited about the figs and so delighted that we enjoyed them.  It’s one of the memories of this trip that will stay with me.

We now have a plan for departure for tomorrow’s walk and it is time to go to bed.  So, good night from Corfu.

 

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Corfu: Walking-Day Four

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Not so fast food

Tuesday, June 19: Pelekas to Liapades.

Route info: 19.1 km/7 hrs 50 mins; total ascent 590m, total descent 725m.

We weren’t scared off by the numbers and we set off about 9:30 a.m. under mostly sunny skies and mostly downhill roads, tracks and paths. Lots of diversity in the scenery from coastal views to olive groves to the flat(ish) interior of the island, villages, etc..  Early in our journey, we were greeted by what at first appeared to be a cute, exuberant puppy; after it bounded up on Joan’s backside causing her to take a tumble, we realized that it was a pain-in-the-ass-hazard in disguise.  Happily, Joan was not seriously injured.

I was the route reader and made first one and then two boo boos, which added about 2 km to our travels.  Aw, shit!! Seems like I did the same thing on the longest walking day of our Tuscany trip!

My fellow walkers were very kind and when I offered, after the first mistake, to hand over route reading duties, no one volunteered.  After the second blunder, however, Joan agreed to assume the responsibility.  Thank god!!

We passed two fellows in that most stereotypical Greek enterprise of roasting a whole lamb on a spit . . . out in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere.  I think their sign language was inviting us to come back later to join in whatever feasting was going to happen.  It smelled delicious but we pushed on. Lots of stickery bushes and thousands of leaping grasshoppers and several very large dead toads and probably way too much sun later, we came to an attractive wayside cafe/bar and sat outside for a refreshing beverage.

Although our spirits were refreshed, the 13 km we had walked had taken a toll on our feet and we decided that we would try to get a taxi for the rest of our journey.  We were successful in that endeavor and we made it to the Corfu Pearl Studios and Apartments minutes before a huge and horrifying lightening and thunder storm broke.  We’ve been inside for almost an hour and the lightening flashes and HUGE booming thunder, some coming frighteningly quickly after the lightening, and POURING rain are just beginning to abate. Although Joan is not in our room with us but, rather, probably cowering in her own room (she really doesn’t like lightening), I think I can speak for all of us and say that we are so very, very happy with our taxi decision!

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Corfu: Walking-Day Three

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Joan and Michael in Corfu Town

Perhaps I shouldn’t give us credit for Monday, June 18th, as a walking day but we are taking a rather liberal approach to “walking” and, so, in it goes!

Monday was our second full day in Pelekas at the Hotel Levant and, in spite of the charms of the place itself, we decided to take the local bus into Corfu Town for a visit. It was a good idea and the execution was okay but after our serene experiences on our walk, even little Corfu Town seemed crazy busy.  Of course, the fact that at least two huge cruise ships had just docked didn’t make negotiating the little, twisting lanes of the town any easier.  We took time to look in some galleries and to find the church of St. Spyridon where I lit a candle for Auntie Billee. However, we were glad to head back to our temporary home away from home.

Unfortunately, the local bus that had picked us up in Pelekas didn’t go all the way up the hill on the return.  So, much uphill to get through town and then up some more to the hotel.  Therefore, a walking day.

 

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Corfu: Walking Day Two

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Mikey: No shoes and sand!

Today, Sunday, June 19th, we walked again.  Showery in the morning but after a leisurely breakfast and rest, we headed down our hill, through the village of Pelekas, to Pelekas Beach.  I thought “uphill” was an ugly word.  Turns out when you are heading steadily and steeply downhill for 3 km in the full sun, “downhill” can carry some pretty negative weight, too.

Being a Sunday, the beach was busy but it must not be high season because most of the lounge chairs set out on the beach were empty.  Still, there was enough action on the shore and in the water to keep us entertained for several hours as we enjoyed a nice lunch.

I took my shoes and socks off to walk along the water line and was amazed and delighted to discover that Michael was doing the same thing.  He HATES sand.

Our mature judgment stood us in good stead when, after lunch, we had someone call a taxi for our uphill trip.

Joan swam, Michael and I goofed off and then we all had another good dinner before retiring for the evening.

 

 

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