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Published: June 11th 2010
After an early breakfast I set off at 8am ( a lady had walked past with a donkey while I was eating), feed the village cats, wave to the boys I met last night as they pass in car on way to school and exit the village into olive groves with pens of chickens, ducks, turkeys. Old may says 'kalimera' (good morning). Asks if I go to Kavos and I say no Lefkimmi. He points me in other direction and sure enough when I backtrack I soon pick up yellow markers again. He saved me a long detour. Lovely walk over undulating tracks, paths firstly through olive groves and later more open heath type land. Saw a Corfu Trail sign that had been used for shooting practice.....which way do I go now...guessed the right path. A man passed me on a moped, wife on back carrying a large bundle of dried bamboo canes - only a few years back she'd have been alone using a donkey. Before I know it I'm crossing the Lefkimmi bypass and entering the outskirts of the town. Smallholdings appear; a small football pitch with very rusty square metal goalposts. Lying by road a Chesea champions league
football........now as my ghost writer is a Chelsea fan the temptation was too great so a photo was set up. Soon I'm walking through town, nice mix of new and old buildings many decked in flowers and before I know it I'm at the bridge at Potami. Stop in Cheeky Face cafe for a coke and water (just 93 minutes walk so far). The Potami River is a true one draining water from the plain of Lefkimmi, eastward where in flows into the sea near Lefkimmi harbour (ferries run from here to mainland Greece, Paxos etc). Fishermen tie up boats along the river and there are many tavernas on both sides; miss this bridge and there is no other crossing all the way to the coast. Full of fish this river has been mentioned in reports since 1618; once was the main means of transporting agricultuaral produce to the sea and then Corfu Town or the mainland. When the roads were built in the 1970s its importance declined. It would have been a great place to stop for a meal but I'd had breakfast and it was too early in my day. I'll have to return one day. As I
left the cafe the lady gave me a postcard from the Cheeky Face with a photo of the bridge/river on the front. I now wander along the river then through the streets past houses old and new, big and small and some smallholding cultivated with vines or vegetables. The odd pen of chickens. I'm followed by a van playing music, talking through loud hailer............he is selling shoes/trainers of all different types.
Now Lefkimmi is the name of the region and has been given to the Town (2nd largest on Corfu) but really it is a conglomeration of 5 villages; Rigglades, Anaplades, Agioi Theodoroi, Potami and Melikia each of which has its own important history. Rigglades; large mansion houses and traditional houses show the Byzantine roots and ancient walls can be seen; Anaplades, now merged with Rigglades, set up in the 1540s when the Venetians moved soldiers and refugees from Anapli to escape conquering Turks; Melikia has houses and mansions back to the 15th centuary and the church of Agios Isavros has 16th centuary icons and frescos. Potami, the river and tavernas. All over Lefkimmi history cries out, old churches such as Church of Bleesed Virgin Odigitria (which from 1510 was
celebrating its 500 years) are many several of which were very large and had twin bell towers, pebbled roads, old mansion houses etc.
Before we walk on we must give a mention to the salt pans at Alykes which used to be on the trail but tarmacing of tracks has removed them from the route. This area on the Lefkimmi promonitory (east coast) has a lighthouse and is now a Natura 2000 site. Salt extraction was begun here in the 15th Centuary by the Venetians (but records show salt was being panned here in the 13th Centuary), needed to preserve foodstuffs, meat/fish etc being shipped back to Venice. This business which in its early days was a major source of income, stayed in operation until 1985. The buildings and installations still stand and restoration work goes on so that a museum can be opened.
On we go through an older part of town, I pass under a Strawberry Tree, never seen one of these before. They look more like raspberries and are falling to the ground. Are they edible? I don't know so dont try but I've since been told they are but must be eaten at a
certain stage otherwise they become worse with age. Soon I cross a bridge and many large frogs are in evidence - are they Marsh or Stream frogs; I've been unable to identify which but they are very big and noisey. Now I'm back at the bypass and cross again, pass the petrol station and am soon back into the olive groves as I head west. I see many lizards here of all types and countless butterflies. You see the odd person out pruning their trees otherwise it is you and nature in the sun. What a great day for a walk and what a nice walk it has been....."these feet are made for walking and thats just what they'll do. these feet are going to walk the trail that is Corfu, dum diddy dum diddy dooo". We now ener a flatland arable area known as the Gardeno Valley; very cultivated with vines and many vegetables such as potatoes, beens, beetroot, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, artichokes and leeks. They look well tended to but nobody around, they must come here early before the sun gets too warm. Shortly I exit onto a road for a while but I'm promised on my trail
notes that just past my next turning is Alexandros Taverna and that it is a good place to stop and furthermore the host is interested in walkers and walking. I think great place to stop for some lunch as I've been walking some 3hr 15 now. Also I'm just about out of water and need another bottle or two. Its only 11:45 (as I'd had a short stop at Potami) but to my horror the Taverna was well and truely shut; no sign of life. I knocked on the doors, walked about the place but no, just a few cats about. Oh well no lunch, no beer and worse still no water till I get end of walk.
From here the concrete track that climbs behind the taverna and hairpins is steep and hot work in the midday sun. You continue to climb until you end up on a ridge with views east and to the west coast and ahead to Santa Barbara. A nice trail and on the ridge it is a sandy path which soom becomes cliff on your left and woods/groves on your right. Many birds around and wooosh.........there it was just in front of me to
the side of the track but went so fast no chance of a picture...........a Montpellier snake, over 2 foot long, very brown in colour. This I was to find the problem.......they hear you before you see them and then there is no chance of a photo as they exit at great speed. Anyway one last look east back to Lefkimmi and north east of that I see Chlomos and Agii Deka. In front of me the view extends now beyond Santa Barbara to Ag Georgios, Lake Korrission and mount Ag Mattheos (but thats tomorrows walk). I now start the descent towards the beach and it is rather steep in places. You quickly reach the coast and the beach and begin the walk to Santa Barbara. The notes warn you may have to paddle in places but not today. This top end of the beach has nice sand but no facilites and seems to be popular with nudists. Soon onto a more populated beach with families and many poeple swimming and then turning a corner the beach front Tavernas come into sight. I'm staying at the Santa Barbara Taverna; they have apartments behind the adjoining shop and nice they are. I
have a few beers (well I was thirsty by now as I'd had no water for nearly 2 hours) and a plate of fried sardines. I then found my room, changed and went for a swim and a rest on the beach; this is the perfect end to a nice days walking and it not yet 3pm. I relax, read my book and notice how easy I have found the walking so far but I know the harder terrain and mountains lie in wait.
That evening for dinner I started with Giagantes (sp); these are what we call butter beans, they come in a tomato/olive oil sauce with herbs and sometimes bits of pepper or carrot or onion. They are oven baked and very tasty (you can buy jars in Asda/Sainsbury but they are a bit pricey). This was followed by beef pastisada. It can be beef, veal or even chicken. Basically the meat is cooked with butter, olive oil, onions, garlic, paprika (common in Corfu food), tomatoes, red wine, vinegar, bit sugar, cinnamon, nutmet, cumin. The cooked meat and sauce is served on top of spaghetti. Grated hard local cheese tops it off but is not always available. All
washed down with a few beers and finished in time to watch a beautiful sunset. Time to retreat to pack for tomorrow and get a good nights sleep.......................but would I. Find out Monday as I'm offline for the weekend (on official World Cup watch). See you then. Extra photos today. Don't forget you can sponsor my walk by making a donation to Corfu Donkey Rescue at www.corfu-donkeys.com and clicking on the donate button or buy visiting their contact us tab (on the left side of home page) taking down the details of their UK bank account and popping into your local branch and making a donation over the counter. Thank you for your support to this very worthy charity.
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