The Trip — 2016: Part 19 — Villa Andonis to Heathrow

Time to take a swim before the day gets too hot to go out in the sun; after all, I’m not an Englishman.

Don and Kathy took the bus to Kassiopi; Becka walked to the harbor to do a little swimming in the bay (and maybe a bit of shopping); Di and her sisters are in and out of the pool and I’m reading the “local” papers online.

Eirini, Di and Dora at Villa Andonis
Eirini, Di and Dora

Being as this is our last full day at the villa, the sisters who own it came to say goodbye to Di, and the rest of us, this morning and brought her a few small gifts. They’re good people as Di has gotten to know them quite well through two years of email communications and frequent conversations while we’ve been here.

Dinner was a home-made affair of chicken, pasta and salad provided mostly by Trish and Helen.

Our last day, Friday, dawned just as beautiful, with promise to be hot, as most of those in the previous three weeks. I had my swim about nine and then went in to shower and finish packing. Di and her sisters swam later and sunned until after one in the afternoon. By that time I had most of Di’s stuff packed, including the items she’d purchased on Corfu for herself or for gifts.

Trip - Villa Andonis on the day we left.
Villa Andonis on the day we left.

Our taxi was late and arrived about two-fifteen. We loaded our belongings, Charlie’s scooter and ourselves and we were off. The drive to Corfu airport took about a half-hour.

At the airport we went to check in and all went fine until we came to Charlie’s scooter. First the security had me load it on the luggage belt to go through the scan — it wouldn’t fit. Later they decided that it had to have its battery attached — contrary to what had been AA and BA policy on our two flights previous. They had me wait in an out of the way area until the scooter was brought out from the luggage loading area.

Can you see me getting ticked off at both BA and Corfu security?

Trip - BA A-320, Passenger bus, wheel-chair loading truck.
BA A-320, Passenger bus, wheel-chair loading truck.

Then they came and got me and told I now had to go through security with the rest of my party, who had also been held up, and go to “6” just past Gate 5. (Gate 1 is where the rest of the passengers on our flight were to board.)

Di and I were hurried through security and to “6” at the end of the Departure level of the terminal. We were taken outside into the 90°+ heat of the day and I had to attach the battery to Di’s scooter. It was then wheeled off to be loaded onto our A320. The gentleman who had taken charge of us wanted Di and I to wait in the chairs there to be taken to the plane in about “5 minutes.”

NO, we were not going to wait in the heat and sun for him to return, so he reluctantly brought us back into the terminal with its minimal air conditioning. And, no, Di did not have time to shop in Duty Free. Yeah. Fifteen – twenty minutes later our guide returned to get us to the plane.

Trip - Passenger loading/unloading stairs.
Passenger loading/unloading stairs.

Now we were a bit ticked off but the next part was actually neat. Di was wheeled down a long ramp and to the back of rather large truck, but it wasn’t exactly a truck. The back end had a lift gate which we all got on and it lifted to the passenger area of the vehicle. The airport worker opened the door and pushed Charlie in. There was an identical door in the front to the right of the driver and another lift.

We drove to the front of the plane and parked just inches from the plane. The entire passenger section of our vehicle was then lifted to the level of the plane’s door and Charlie was wheeled forward. All she had to do was walk a step to the plane and then another fifteen feet or so to her seat in Aisle 1.

Trip - Lunch on BA
Lunch / Dinner

After we were seated the buses from the terminal carried the rest of the passengers out to be boarded. A weather delay over western Europe caused a half hour delay of our takeoff, but the plane was cool and it wasn’t a problem.

The flight itself was smooth; the Jack Daniels plentiful and the prawn dinner tasty. We had a twenty-five minute wait until a wheelchair arrived to take Di into the terminal at Heathrow. A longish walk and a two-stop tram ride brought us to the baggage area . . . Problem.

Trip - Back over England
Back over England

The Trip — 2016: Part 18 — Venturing Day and Night

Trip - Northeast CorfuMorning came and I had my swim. Trish, Helen and I — Becka volunteered to keep an eye on Di for the afternoon — got in the car for a scenic drive to the north. The road got wide enough at one point for there to have been painted two white lines down its center, although the lines were so faint they looked as though they had been painted about the time Charlie and I were married.

Beautiful scenery, beautiful villas and pebbly beaches. We stopped in Agios Stefanos for a dip in the sea, at least Helen and Trish did. We then had a drink at The Wave taverna on the beach — I had another Corfu Red Ale and the girls had virgin umbrella drinks and split a wicked looking ice cream and crepe mid-day dessert.

Trip - Agios Stefanos, Sinies - Corfu, Greece
Agios Stefanos, Sinies – Corfu, Greece

Then to the shopping at a couple of the usual souvenir shops. Postcards, stamps, some clothes and for me two sets of “hand-made” glass Greek coasters, one for Mike and one for myself. The woman in the shop (Delfini Traditional Crafts) gift wrapped both sets in the same paper so I don’t know which is which; guess I’ll find out when Mike chooses his.

One of the problems I have when going into these types of emporia is that I still think like a woodshop teacher and look for things I could have had my students make back in the day. Yeah, I once again found items I’d not seen before — dirty word, dirty word, dirty word.

Trip - Helen

On the way back to the villa Helen saw an unattached trailer by the side of the road built by the company of a Welshman she knows. (Ifor Williams Trailers LTD) She insisted we stop and we pulled into a turnout; Helen literally hopped out with her camera and walked back to the trailer to snap a picture. She hurried back to the car — I snapped a couple of pictures of her hurrying around the bend — chortle.

Also, we came upon a working garbage truck and crew emptying bins by the side of the road — It appears to me at least, as though they are still catching up to some of the refuse left over from the strike they were engaged in when we arrive in Corfu two and a half weeks ago. A quick stop at the “super” market and we were home.

After seven we again headed down to the harbor to catch a boat (think water taxi) to a cove north of us and dinner. We were landed at the White House Taverna for dinner. Di had difficulty navigating the steps and ramps to our table overlooking the water, but we made it. They had given us the table with the longest walk, not seeming to notice that Di’s a bit disabled. (If you come to Corfu, remember these people have nothing like the ADA to help the physically challenged more easily cope with life.)

Trip - Di and Becka at the Taverna White House
Di and Becka

The house was originally built by Gerald Durrell‘s brother Lawrence, which disappointed Di as it wasn’t the house the family had had in the 1930s. It also did not have many pictures nor much memorabilia, nor did the staff know much about the family’s circumstances or other houses on the island.

Service was a bit slow, but we enjoyed our food. Di was a bit disappointed as her salmon filet turned out to be a bony salmon steak a bit overdone to her taste. One sister gave her some of her lamb, again a bit done for Di’s taste. My meal, however, was quite good — the White House version of seafood pasta — although someone needs to teach the chef how to de-vein prawns as I had to complete the job for him on the plate. (In addition when the waiter took away my empty plate of befores, a pair of very good Greek sausages, he also took away my silverware. It was a few minutes while my dinner was cooling before I could get his attention for a replacement set — I really didn’t want to eat my seafood pasta with only my fingers.)

Trip - The Moon, Di and Joe on a water taxi off Corfu
The Moon, Di and Joe

There was only one toilet for this, large, restaurant and it was a long walk and up steps for Di. She was quite weak after navigating between tables without her wheelie and we seated her nearer to the dock to wait for our taxi rather than return to our table.

The full moon was up; the breeze was cool and the ride back was a highlight of our stay in Corfu. The trip was a bit longer on the return as we also picked up and dropped off another family on the way. Nissaki harbor was cool and we were soon back in our villa. Trish and Helen returned the rental car and the girls, Di, Helen, Trish and Becka played several games of Bananagrams. We didn’t get to bed until one-thirty Thursday morning — it’s now ten.

(to be continued)

(more photos below)

Helen and Tricia
Helen and Tricia

Helen and Tricia in the swim of things
Helen and Tricia in the swim of things
Trash collection on Corfu
Trash collection on Corfu

Kathy and Don on the way to the White House Taverna
Kathy and Don on the way to the White House Taverna
Shell Gas: in Euros and Litres (Think Dollars and Quarts)
Shell Gas: in Euros and Litres (Think Dollars and Quarts)

Di, Tricia and Helen off Corfu
Di, Tricia and Helen

The Trip — 2016: Part 17 — Recovery and Relaxing

About seven-thirty this morning Di got up and I helped her to the loo and then to get dressed. Kathy was already up and recovered; Don was recovered as well. Kit, it turned out, had been well enough to get in the taxi last night and make his plane (at least, we haven’t heard anything from him to the contrary . . . yet). Trish, however, has been touch and go most of the day — although now, about seven-thirty in the evening, she seems well.

Trip -Moon from Villa Andonis
Moon from Villa Andonis

Helen arrived an hour or so ago without her son, Theo, who decided he was having so much fun rowing that he’d rather stay with his team and friends than visit with this fifty-five plus group of relatives and his aunt’s friends. (Can’t say I blame him.)

Di’s been down at the pool most of the afternoon; I did my swimming this morning rather than come out in the heat of the day. It only got up into the eighties today and there has been a constant breeze — enough to blow windows open and closed in the villa and I’ve seen whitecaps on the sea.

Kathy, Don and Becka caught the 2:30 pm bus to Corfu city and went sightseeing (don’t know when they’re scheduled to come back). Helen brought Di some Twiglets and Lapsang Souchong tea — UGH, but she’s happy about it. Helen and Trish walked down the hill to Nissaki to rent a car for tomorrow and bring back more bread and milk. They plan for the four of us to go out to lunch and then for the three girls to do some shopping while I park myself in a taverna and enjoy a beer or two or three rather than having to accompany Di like I usually do — I can do that.

The tourist party to Corfu made it back about dinnertime here — nine. They enjoyed themselves and made several trips by bus in and around town.

We shared dinner, wine, stories and Bananagram games — a good evening.

Got up about eight-thirty this morning. Don, Kathy and Becka left a bit after nine to again catch a bus and do touristy things. Trish and Helen went to get the rental car for this evening’s outing. Spent the morning by the pool “filming” a fledgling being fed by a parent. And I then had a swim with a timeout for the pool guy to do his thing. Then back in the pool to complete my laps — this is the only real exercise I get here. — Feeding at Villa Andonis

Spent some time reading on the computer, the Register and the Times and began reading The Bedlam Boyz. Lunch was provided by Helen and Trish, who, along with Di, played several games of Bananagrams. Next a shower and this update before we go out. Ahhhh . . .

Trip - The Cat in The Loom (Bowl)
The Cat in The Loom (Bowl)

Change of plans — Di decided not to go sightseeing and so we are going down to the Nissaki harbor area for dinner at the Mitsos Taverna and for Di to go shopping at The Loom just across the “street” from the taverna at the end of the road. Trish still rented the car for two days.

Got down to the harbor area and got unloaded as Trish parked the car a ways up the hill. Di had a workout getting up to The Loom’s actual shopping area, a dozen or more steps above the street. One of the women loaned her chair to Di until I brought up her “wheelie.” Di sat there and then began to move around and shop. Helen said they’d need about forty minutes; I guessed at least an hour and fretted about it being two.

As they began to shop I went down the stairs to the taverna and ordered a Corfu Red Ale. I nursed it for an hour and waited further — until I was joined by the women after a successful “gathering.” We were seated at a nice table by the water and proceeded to have wine, befores and dinner. While at dinner the wanderers returned and, being quite tired, decided not to join us — except for Becka who came down quite manic.

Trip - Becka at Nissaki beach
Becka at Nissaki beach

Dinner was good, again. I enjoyed a Greek shrimp dish for a before and then had their version of seafood pasta — ate all but one bite of the pasta. Everyone else seemed to enjoy their meal and wine. Becka also went for a swim between befores and the main course.

It was then into the car and back up to the villa, a few games of Bananagrams and to bed.

(to be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 16 — “Adventure”

Last night was the most comfortable of our stay. We caught the southern edge of a front crossing Europe and had some clouds and a very nice breeze. Today dawned cool and breezy with clouds. The temperature in the sun, without cloud cover, is still brutal, however.

Trip - Cara, Lola and Kit at Nissaki Beach
Cara, Lola and Kit at Nissaki Beach

Charlie got up a bit earlier than ususal and I was able to get my swim in before Kathy and Don rose. Trish, Ivy and David drove to the market and David drove back with the groceries while the two ladies walked back for some exercise.

Don and I later walked to the market for exercise and to get some more milk, as we were about out — Di has to have some milk for her tea. We also picked up a newspaper and some soft drinks. The price came to €10.60 and I gave the cashier €15.00. She didn’t want to make change, however, so she only took the €10 note and I now owe her €0.60.

Charlie’s former student, Becka, is supposed to arrive some time before we go to dinner — she’s landed and we’re just waiting for her taxi to appear; our dinner reservation is for 7:30 pm and we’ll probably be a couple of hours. Ahhh . . . relaxing with good food and good friends.

Trip - Nissaki Beach from Mitsos Taverna
Nissaki Beach from Mitsos Taverna

Well, Becka showed up before we left for dinner and we showed her around the villa. She took a few minutes to rest in her room and then we talked a bit and went to dinner. David drove Di and I to the restaurant and found a place to park the car. The remainder of our party walked from the villa.

Di had wanted to browse at The Loom, the shop across from the taverna, but to the consternation of all it had closed early for the day. There weren’t many people in the taverna either nor at the beach. Ah hah, the winds had blown in seaweed and grass to the beach making it difficult to swim — I guess that accounted for the small crowd.

Trip - Joe and Di at Mitsos Taverna
Joe and Di at Mitsos Taverna

At any rate, we had our table for eleven in a beautiful spot and sat down. David and I had a beer, Di a Fanta lemonade; we also ordered water and wine. A few minutes later the walkers arrived, found seats (with Kathy sitting next to Di and Becka across the table from her). We talked for a while, took pictures, ordered starters and proceeded to enjoy the atmosphere and company.

Dinner consumed, the dessert course arrived: vanilla ice cream and espresso for four, chocolate and vanilla ice cream for the girls, ouzo for four and I had a brandy . . . ahhhh. The trip back to the villa was the reverse of the trip to the taverna. Soon after returning most of us went to bed, but Don and Kathy stayed up trying to get in sync with the local time zone.

Trip - Lola, Becka, Ivy and Cara walking to dinneer
Lola, Becka, Ivy and Cara walking to dinneer

This Sunday morning actually dawned cool and breezy. I had a nice swim and the coffee and . . . then it rained. Yes, it rained — for about ten minutes and then again a while later. David, Ivy and the girls left for the airport a bit before noon — they’ll next spend a week in Provence before heading back to the US. Kit leaves for the UK tonight.

Well . . . there is a definition of adventure which goes something like an event best experienced in the retelling rather than in the occurring — and, of course, you’d much rather hear from a friend who experienced it rather than your own experience from your own lips. . . well, today we had an adventure.

Trip - Di, Kathy, Don, Cara, Lola, Kit, Ivy, David, Tricia, Becka (and Joe behind the camera)
Di, Kathy, Don, Cara, Lola, Kit, Ivy, David, Tricia, Becka (and Joe behind the camera)

An hour or two after David, Ivy and the girls had left, we had lunch. Some salad, some leftovers, some bread and cheese. One of the leftover dishes was a lentil concoction . . . to some it tasted good, others, my wife, not so good. I’d had a cold spoonful from the fridge the night before and had some more of the re-heated remainder for lunch.

Of the seven of us at lunch five of us had the lentils — all five of us came down with “food poisoning.” Don, Kathy, Kit, Trish felt it early and I felt ill a couple of hours later. I barely made it to the throne room where the lentils went up and out. An hour later I again lost some more lentils. An hour later, again. This time it was mostly dry heaves, but no less painful and miserable. I crashed in bed and remained there for the next twelve hours or so.

During that time, Kit came in to find our Pepto supply Di had told him about. Someone also came in for Di’s night meds and I had to get out of bed and get these. Eventually Di came to bed, helped by Becka (who, like Di, hadn’t eaten any of the lentils).

(to be continued)