The Joys of Travel


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Europe » Greece » Ionian Islands » Corfu » Paleokastritsa
July 11th 2019
Published: July 13th 2019
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Today we have a nice easy day of travelling to Corfu. This will involve a gentle drive to the airport, followed by a quick hop to Athens where we’ll have about an hour to stroll around the airport before our short flight to Corfu. There we will pick up the hire car we’ve booked, and take a leisurely drive to our hotel. We’ll get there in the late afternoon, just in time to wander down to a waterfront taverna for a few drinks and dinner, before retiring to our hotel balcony where we will gaze contentedly out at the sea. What could be simpler and more relaxing than all that.

We arrive at the airport early, and all is going nicely to plan. But wait, it seems that our flight has been delayed. No problem, we’ll still have time to make our connection; we might just need to hurry along a bit. A few minutes later, and it seems that our flight has now been delayed a lot. The airline decides that we can’t make our connection any more, so they put us on a later connecting flight. No problem. We might just need to let the rental company know that we’ll be picking our car up a bit later than we told them originally.

We arrive in Athens and camp on some seats for the now long wait for our late evening flight. But wait, something’s missing. It seems that Issy has left her handbag on the plane. This isn’t good; it’s got her phone, money and credit cards in it. She tries to go back to the plane to get it, but we came from the plane to the terminal in a bus so she can’t. She’s told she needs to go to the lost and found department, which is at the very far end of the airport. She shows the lady her boarding pass and tells her the story, and the lady relays the message into her walkie talkies, one in each ear. This takes real talent. Minutes pass. The walkie talkies burst into life. Good news, they’ve found something. A few minutes later the ‘something‘ appears. It is a large accountant’s ledger book out of the 1960s. I’m not sure in what universe this looks like a handbag, but maybe things are a bit different here. Hopes of ever seeing the handbag again are now fading as the minutes pass. The walkie talkies have fallen silent. But finally a miracle. They burst into life yet again, and the handbag reappears. Relief. The day is saved.

l retrieve the email that the hire car company sent us when we made the original booking. It includes a link to use if we want to modify the booking. Too easy. The link takes me to a site where I need to enter my name and the 27 digit booking code. Alas, the site tells me that because I made the booking in Australia, I can’t use this site. But no problem. It redirects me to another site, and I’m asked to reenter my name and the 27 digit code. It tells me it is retrieving my booking. Minutes pass, lots of minutes. Retrieving a booking from the far off land of Oz is clearly a complex process. Finally victory. All I have to do is change the collection time. What could be easier than that. I change it to 11pm. Uh oh. The rental car office will be closed them. But wait, the company has other offices down in the town. Maybe we can catch a taxi to one of those and pick up our car from there. Uh oh again. None of the town offices will be open at 11pm either. No problem, we can be flexible, we’ll pick up the car tomorrow instead. I change the pickup time, and I’m asked to select a car. I thought I did that already, several months ago; it was a nice small automatic well suited to our purposes. But wait. None of the cars on the list that are available for collection tomorrow are automatics, they’re all stick shifts. I’m having more than enough trouble driving on the wrong side of the road here, without trying to do something I’ve never done before; operate a stick shift with my right hand, not to mention that we’ll be driving at night in a place we’ve never been to before, without a map. I don’t think that this would be very beneficial to our health and safety, and if the expression on Issy’s face is anything to go by I think she might be inclined to agree. No problem; I’ll just cancel the booking and we’ll find another company. I reenter my name and the 27 digit code yet again - if I do this many more times I may get to remember it off by heart. The site whirs into action yet again. More long minutes pass; lots of long minutes. Uh oh. It’s now past the original pick up time; it seems that to cancel the booking I need to call a number in Australia. We don’t have a local SIM card, so if we do this we‘ll need to win the lottery to recoup the cost of the call.

The urge to want to kill someone is growing at an alarming rate. Issy is trying very hard to get me to relax, but I think I’ve now become unrelaxable. This sucks for her. We decide to give up on trying to cancel the booking and just move on to finding another company. It seems that automatics are in very short supply in Corfu, as are rental car offices at the airport that will be open when we arrive. We search long and hard. Finally, success. We find a company that is open 24 hours and it has automatics. Relief, extreme relief. We make the booking. Problem solved. Minutes pass. An email appears. The company was only kidding. It apologises that its website was wrong; it has run out of automatics as well. Back to square one. More searching. We find a company that has an automatic, but we can’t pick it up until the day after tomorrow, and we have to pay for it now if we want it. It looks dodgy, but we’re past caring. What’s the worst thing that could happen. Having our bank accounts drained wouldn’t be that bad would it. I could go back to work, or we could live in a tent for the rest our lives.

A bright spot. Because the airline has ruined our lives, they have sent us some vouchers that we can use to buy a small quantity of refreshments. The temptation to use them on alcohol is almost overwhelming, but we’re sensible people so we use them on food. The food is supposed to be hot, but it’s not. This may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I knew we should have gone for the alcohol. Relief is in sight though, our flight will leave soon. But wait; it’s been delayed. What a surprise.

We arrive in Corfu and catch a very expensive taxi to our hotel on the other side of the island. It is after midnight when we crawl to our room. Not quite the relaxing day we were hoping for. What happened to the relaxing meal and drinks at the seaside taverna, and sitting on the balcony gazing out at the sea. Ah, the joys of travelling.

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13th July 2019

Corfu
One of the islands we did not make it to and hope to get there sooner than later. Love your story of the walkie talkies bursting to life and thank goodness. What a mess that would have been. The Greek Gods are looking out for you. You'll need an extra drink on the balcony after that rental car mess.

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