Although “done and drenched” would be a better title for today’s post. More about that later.
First of all, it is SO cool to be in this part of Greece. Michael and I have never made it to any part of Greece and we are feeling extremely happy to be here even if Corfu isn’t the first thing you think about when a person says “Greece.” Because of a heavy and long Venetian presence on this island, the architecture is much more Italian/European than what one typically thinks of when thinking of the Greek landscape. But it is beautiful and we are going to thoroughly enjoy our time here.
Second, finally, and foremost: Our first walking day:
Oh, my gosh!! We made it!! You will not be impressed with the distances or times or elevation changes but WE ARE and we are the ones who are here!
Overview as described in walking notes: 11.2 km/4.5 hours/ascent and descent 500 meters. We went out of Paramonas, through the village of Agios Matthews and up to a small monastery (Moni Pantokrator). Our experience (based on Joan’s magical watch device was just about the same although we took longer with several nice rest stops included. What the statistics don’t reflect, of course, is the terrain or just how beautiful some of the views are.
In Corfu, the olive trees are not pruned and are ancient and enormous. We walked through many groves of these magnificent trees. There are bundles of nets under them because at harvest time the nets are spread out to catch the olives. It looks like it must be very labor intensive work.
We set out around 9:30 under nice skies, some clouds, and a fresh sea breeze. We walked ever upward over roads, tracks, lanes and stony paths. Walk notes frequently said things like “continue gradually uphill,” “turn right onto a mostly surfaced path (but broken and rough in parts) winding steeply uphill,” “ follow it hair-pinning uphill and continue uphill on a rough stone track,” “ still ascending steeply,” etc.. Do you get the picture”? “Uphill” rapidly became a very dirty word.
Walking note: “At this point you are 1.3 km from the monastery and the path is steep and the going will be slow! But the shade offered by the trees is delightful.” Next note: “Pass large boulder with red dot on it, and ignore a narrow steep path downhill on left. Keep straight ahead uphill.”
These two notes were separated by a single blank line but the on-the-ground-reality was that it took forever to find that damned red dotted large boulder. Shortly after we began our descent, we were warned in very emphatic italics to “be careful as there are very loose stones underfoot.” Michael slipped and fell. Then about 200 meters later, he slipped and fell again. No serious damage thank goodness.
On our way up the hill, we had passed a bakery and had a brief chat with three Canadians who happened to be resting there. One of them was a Corfu native. On our way back our path looped back to this bakery and we had a nice break there for nourishment. Almost the entire day had been punctuated with thunder off somewhere away from us. Well, during our refreshment break, the weather caught up to us.
We walked the final 3 km. in increasingly heavy rainfall. Umbrellas up or rain jackets on, it made little difference. For at least the last 1.5 km. we were slogging through roads that had turned into stream beds and we were drenched, sodden, soaked by the time we squished, squeaked and squelched our way into the hotel lobby. I would have loved to have taken a photo of the three of us but my camera was floating somewhere in the depths of my day pack.
Our shoes are now stuffed with newspaper, our clothes festooned over every possible draping point in our room and on our terrace but we are happy and dry and proud. I have to admit, however, that if our shoes aren’t dry by tomorrow morning, none of us is going to want to set out on the 17.3 km/8 hour/885 meter ascent/625 meter descent walk to get to our next lodging in Pelekas. A taxi ride may be in our immediate future. But first, I believe the rain has stopped and a refreshing gin and tonic at the seaside restaurant is beckoning.