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Published: June 26th 2010
And so the day has arrived when I have to head home. All packed I wait outside the Hotel for Anna. There is a hive of activity as people are heading to work and there is Police activity in the area; apparently due to a high profile case at the nearby Court. Mind you the police weren't that interested in the public; I saw a policeman on his motorbike riding down the road almost two abreast with a man on his scooter who wasn't wearing a crash helmet (or even carrying one) and no action was taken or even a word said or finger pointed. It does just show that if they dont like laws they just ignore them and I guess the smoking ban will go the same way.
Anna arrives and we set off for the short journey to the airport; we chat about the trail and in particular the last day when Anna wondered if I had got lost descending to Paleo Perithia; which I hadn't. Almost everybody else has so she wanted to know how I found the trail markings in that area. But I guess as I got lost elsewhere on the trail we all missed
markers or descriptions and went wrong in places. A lot of the paths in the olive groves look similar and you think you are seeing what you are reading but in fact you aren't; the same goes on the steep slopes into gulleys; all the slope is the same and if you miss a mark you soon would lose the path and be more scrambling. It is best to take these parts slowly and be extra vigilant. Anna asks me to send her photos, especially of the Beech Marten and this I have done and also given her a link to my blog which I believe she is view this weekend.
Soon at the airport we bid goodbye and Anna hopes I will return one day. I will of course return to Corfu, probably in October but I doubt I will walk the Trail again. It is very good but that is achieved; I also own Hilary's book of Corfu Walks and there are about 80 in there at the moment. I will definately do some of them in areas that the Trail did not cover, e.g Cholmos.
Heading into the airport there are only a few people in the
area where you check in for Easyjet so I go and stand there even though they are not yet open. Many other people are standing further away in the Departure area looking at the boards. Monday is a very busy day with mainly UK flights and the boards are outside for the package holiday queues in the sun that we all tolerate on our way home. The bonus of Easyjet is that you dont have the outside queue but you do have the srum that is speedy boarding; why people panic thay must be first to check as well on speedy boarding puzzles me as that doesn't get them a seat. Any way a checkin opened but it was for me and the speedy boarders checkin was late to open much to the annoyance of a few which made me chuckle. Soon in, my bag well under the 20kg limit I go through passport control and to the duty free shop to get some Ouzo and cigarettes for a friend. I have abeer and await the boarding. I can see the moaning speedy boarders edging towards Gate 3 which is staffed ready and you can see they wish to be
first through even against other speedy boarders. I almost laughed out load when they then announced ouir flight was to go through Gate 1 and suddenly they rushed over but of course were well back down the queue; mind you it didn't stop them pushing as far up the queue as they could. I just sauntered through onto the bus and then went up the rear stairs onto the plane with one last glance back to the beautiful Corfu. Many solo flyers seem to sit on a aisle seat so they can get out quicker so it was easy to find rows with two empty seats. I choose one and sit by the window. The plane was only about 80% full as we left on time. Taking off heading South we soon loop over the Corfu Straight and fly back high over the aiorport and then turn slightly north; I can see Aqualand, the large waterpark below. I see Pelekas then the Ropa Valley and Giannades and then Liapades and wonder if I will see the track I missed from the air! Then Paleokastrika and the Pantokrator range come into view and we are soon heading over the north coast
and my view is that of the beautiful white cliffs of Cape Drastis. The rest of the flight was fine and smooth and the Austrian Alps were still well covered in snow. We arrive at a cool Gatwick early. You walk forever to the baggage reclaim; so far it was like being on the Trail again! Eventually you get your bag and pass through customs and I then had to get the transfer bus to South Terminal and the station. Arriving at South I go to the bar and have a full english breakfast and a beer to fill me up as I have my journey home to High Wycombe and no supplies in at home for a meal and will not be stopping off at a shop when I have a heavy travel bag and rucksack already.
Did the Corfu Trail live up to my expectations? I had read several blogs of others who had walked the Trail and of course John Waller's recent book but it still was better in the walking than any description, my own included. I just dont have the literary talent to do justice to the sheer beauty of the views the colours of the trees, the flowers, the sea, sky and even the villages and even the pictures only give an indication of what you see. The pictures especially cannot do justice to the views; particularly when you also see them through binoculars. The only downside for me was I walked a bit too late to see orchids; there would have been some about still hadn't there been big storms the week before my arrival; but there were many other flowers to see and the smell of the wild flowers was lovely; the smell of the wild herbs made you feel you were entering an open kitchen. The broom on the slopes of Pantokrator descending to Old Sinies was almost overpowering it was so strong. The butterflies were plentiful but difficult to photo especially as they usually land with wings closed; lizards everywhere and the large Balkan Greens particularly beautiful and fast. The snakes who move like Usain Bolt into the distance and the bonus for me of my meeting with the Beech Marten. The people I met be they at accommodations, fellow walkers or tourists, the bar, taverna, kafenion, ouzerie, restaurant and shop staff and the villages just passing by or in the coutryside working as I passed where all so friendly. Never was a 'kalimera' 'kalispera' or 'haretai' or even a wave ignored. There was always a cheery reply and often it was a double 'kalimera, kalimera'. The often 2 hour stints when I saw nobody but nature were tranquility at its best. I was able to walk the walk of life and be at one with my surroundings and almost just blend into teh Island itself. It was always nice to suddenly emerge into a village and the change from the greens to the painted walls and pots of flowers was sudden. The only downside was the dumping of rubbish and sometimes in the most unexpected of places; such a shame and a blot on the landscape as are the gun cartridges which are everywhere. If they gave a refund for empties or refused to sell the next 50 until you returned the 50 empty cases it would go a long way to solving the problem. But this is minor when taking teh walk as a whole and I feel so much the better for it as a peron mentally, physically and spiritually. The food was wonderful and so too the beers ( they always taste better in the chilled or iced glasses) and despite the walking I probably put on weight during the two weeks. The fitness I had was more than enough for the walking and I never found the hills too much; yes I sweated but the legs never ached even after the 3 hour climb to the High Col or the walk to the summit of Pantikrator. Yes my foot was injured and teh soles of my feet ended up bruised and battered but that was down to me not having a thicker sole on my walking boots (a lesson learnt there). So to sum up it was a wonderful walk and holiday and in this instance it was enhanced by going solo. I now have seen nearly all of Corfu and its beauty just gets better the more you see. I will go south more on future holidays as there is much to see and the beaches are spectacular and spacious and sandy. I for one cannot wait to return.
I must also praise Anna and Chris at Aperghi Travel for their organisation; so efficient. My bag moved as if by magic. My transfers were aways at the stated time and they are such lovely and genuine people with a love of Corfu. Thank you both so much for helping make my holiday so enjoyable and thank you for the gift of Ouzo; I will toast you both each time I have a shot.
And finally the Donkeys at Corfu Donkey Rescue have also benefited from my walk. Thank you to all those who have donated already and those who have bid for Shrek. Only one person will get Shrek and his photos but it all helps raise much needed funds for the Donkeys. If you haven't yet donated you still can, however small an amount, by visiting www.corfu-donkeys.com. Click on the donate tab and follow the instructions entering 'Dave's Walk' as the purpose. Alternatively from the left side of the homepage click on 'Contact Us' and you will find details of a UK bank account. You can copy them, visit your local branch and pay in a donation over the counter. Thank you so much on behalf of Corfu Donkey Rescue for your kind and generous support and thank you also for following my blog.
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