Corfu – Part 7

Thursday

Well our new neighbours are well and truly in. Annoyingly, they’re prolific smokers. When one isn’t smoking, the other is, like some sort of very unhealthy Olympic relay.
The shared balcony means when they spark up, the resulting smoke then blows back into our apartment.
So every time it’s a bit hot, it’s a case of “I think I’ll open the balcony door..oh..or I’ll close it again”.
Smokers: you’re smelly bastards, the lot of you.
If I went on the balcony and farted every 30 seconds, this wouldn’t be acceptable, would it?
The only saving grace is that they smoke roll-ups, so you get a few minutes of warning between pouch being opened (it’s never actually put away), and lighter being flicked.

I’m hoping today is better than yesterday.
Yesterday, we caught a bus to Corfu Town, missing the connecting bus to Pelekas by at most, 2-3 minutes.
This meant a 90min wait until the next one.

After a lot of uncertainty, we think we have finally worked out the confusing timetables.
Basically there’s a leaving time, and an arrival time. It leaves point A, and arrives at point Z. The times for point A’s leaving and Z leaving are given. What time it gets to points B to Y depends on traffic, but nothing else. If you live at point M, if you know the bus passes through your area (you would just instinctively know
this, OBVIOUSLY), you wait from the time of point A’s departure, and at some point it will pass you.

While we were waiting for the bus, I heard a lot of beeping, and turned round to see a guy..triple?..parked.
There was no space, so he’d just stopped, casually got out of his car and gone to a newsagent to buy a lottery ticket.
Fine, right?
Well, except that this was a single-width feeder lane, merging into a one-way system, and so he was blocking up the entire road, and stopping anyone coming from the left from getting any further.
The drivers are just in a world of their own here.
The day before, we’d been beeped at by a moped. What makes this odd is that we were on the pavement at the time. As was he.
There are what look like zebra crossings in quite a few places. Or rather, the lines are there. Don’t expect anyone to stop as you cross though – most won’t. And there will probably be someone parked on both sides of it.
Basically, we have nothing to complain about in the UK re road safety.

We caught the bus to Pelekas eventually, to see a beach that my girlfriend’s guide book said was a must see.
Strange then, to discover Pelekas is a small village at the top of a mountain. A beach, at the top of a mountain?
We started walking down, convinced there would be the beach at the bottom, and after about an hour of incredibly steep, windy country lanes, we reached a very crowded, not all that special, beach. Annoying really.

Crowded beaches are a bit of a problem as an adult. You have to carry loads of stuff to get there (money, keys, phone, etc.) but when you get there, there’s nowhere to put anything. Consequently my girlfriend ended up in the water on her own, while I was suspicious of everyone being potential thieves, and sat on the sand, clutching our valuables.
As a kid you go with your parents, and they worry about the valuables while you worry about looking pale, getting hot, getting burnt, drowning, and trying to avoid being sent off to “go and play with the others”, or “enjoy yourself” in a pedalo, or dinghy, or some other such instrument of certain-drowning.

There were two other beaches in the guidebook nearby, but it just says something along the lines of “head to Pelekas to reach this beach” or “go north from Pelekas for this”.
Not really enough information, is it? DK travel guide, you suck. This is maybe fine if you’re in a car, but a wrong turn on foot could result in a long walk in very hilly terrain.

This was made worse, because we walked back to the top of Pelekas to catch the returning bus. We waited, and it didn’t turn up. Odd. This is where it stopped to drop us off.
It turns out (a British local told us), that the bus stops at the bottom, and it’s quite unusual for it to drive to the top. We needed to walk to the bottom of the first bit of hill (thankfully not all the way back to sea level..) to catch it from there. For fuck’s sake. Silly us, assuming where the bus stopped earlier is the same place it stops now. The clarity on bus travel/stops/etc. in Corfu could definitely be improved.

So, a 1.5 hour wait followed.
We could have a look around Pelekas? Well, yes. Although Pelekas – much like lots of places in Corfu – is 50% closed/derelict, and of the remaining places, 50% is shut because its gone 1pm. So it doesn’t take long to look around.
We decided to have dinner in a nearby restaurant during this bus-waiting time.

This is apparently a nice place to watch the sunset, but I missed the point that the sun hit the horizon because I was busy fending off attacks from wasps.
This has been a problem since I got here. They flock to me and then won’t fuck off.
I can sit down with a croissant and there’s a wasp near me in seconds. This doesn’t seem to be so much of a problem for my girlfriend for some reason. We use the same shampoo and shower gel, so I shouldn’t smell any different.
Last night, the wasp wouldn’t leave me alone. Girlfriend tells me to stay still and it will leave. I stayed still, and it clambered over my knife, fork, tried a bit of the beefburger I was eating, slurped my lemonade, borrowed my phone and made some personal calls, etc. It did everything but fuck off.
My girlfriend said “at least it isn’t as bad as them” and pointed to a table behind me, where the two diners had 3 of them, flying around, trying to get in their glasses and drink their beer. The (presumably locals) were calm as anything, seemingly oblivious to the disgusting insects clambering over things they were about to put in their mouths.
But sadly, I’d had enough of these twats by this point. I can’t eat food or drink lemonade, that has had insects crawling around on or in it. I opened my bag and found an aerosol can of “insect ease” (it’s meant to ease itchiness of insect bites, but it’s not very good), and started spraying at them indiscriminately, including all over my food. I couldn’t have eaten it at this point, so what do I care. Come on then you fuckers! Who wants some?!
So basically, it wasn’t quite the ‘romantic dinner and watching the sunset’ it could have been.

Eventually we caught a bus back, from the bottom of the hill (where there wasn’t really a stop – just a driveway of someone’s house – but clearly where the bus goes from, OBVIOUSLY), then another back to our hotel. Exhausted, we went straight to bed.

Today will be better.

Thursday, later:
It’s a bit changeable. It was very cloudy, then less so. Then more so. We went for a walk around the place we’re staying.
While walking, it started raining, so we darted into a shop and browsed postcards, touristy souvenirs, etc.
We got offered a free glac√© kumquat. It’s an odd taste. Strange. Can’t compare with much else really.

One good thing came of that rain though. We were pondering trying to get to Sidari. It’s meant to be a lovely beach (but then so was yesterday’s). There is a bus that goes right there.
Postcards picturing Sidari in that shop, though, show sheer cliffs, waves lapping at the bottom of them. Basically, not very nice/big beaches, except the ones that were by hotels, and so very busy.
We’ve decided to give that a miss.

I was buying milk this morning and the owner of the shop nearby, suggested we try Roda’s beach (Roda is a place not a person). She also offered some advice that is also something the bus timetables should show. Everything going north from Corfu Town, passes Gouvia (where we’re staying). Everything. This isn’t mentioned anywhere, that we’ve found so far. This morning, we were considering going to Corfu Town, to catch a bus that would have driven right past the road our apartment is on, pretty much. This is why you need a list of “via” points, bus companies.
That shop by the way, is the nicest, most helpful place ever. She sells stamps, bus tickets, has lots of local info. She’s like a one-woman tourist information office and convenience store. And always happy/smiley, unlike the grumpy bastards who work in the bigger Diellas supermarket nearby.

The rain stopped and we headed back to the apartment for lunch. Not that sunny, still quite cloudy. Hmm. Cup of tea to help ponderances. Still not sure what to do. iPhone weather app still predicting thunder/lightning. (But then it was yesterday, and it didn’t materialise at all. Although today is less sunny, more cloudy, and it’s already rained once.)

Later still

We ended up sat by our pool (it felt like it was just ours anyway, as nobody else with any sense sits by the pool when its cloudy/rainy/a bit cold), just relaxing.

Even later (about 8:30)
There’s been sheet lightning and very loud thunder for a while now.
It’s chucking it down with rain, but we haven’t had dinner yet. Neither of us wants to go browsing tavernas or wandering the streets trying to decide on a restaurant, in thunder and lightning.
Idea: let’s go to the small shop owned by the nice woman (open until about 9), and get some soup, bread, cake, etc. Hardly the greatest meal but it’ll do, given circumstances.
Heinz tomato soup and fresh bread. If you can do better with one hot plate and a convenience store smaller than my living room, I take my hat off to you.
Sadly the delicious chocolate swiss roll we bought was chocolate AND coffee (?!) but still edible. More chocolate than coffee.

Friday morning

The thunder and lightning eventually fizzled out about 11:30 last night, leaving only rain. This morning however, is cloudy, windy, trying to rain, there’s just been a rumble of thunder. And the weather forecast for the morning is:

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Seconds later

It’s now raining :/