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 7 — On to Corfu

The taxi (from Pryors) picked up Trish first, after he found her home and then us. Traffic was thin, and it wasn’t raining too hard, so the ride was comfortable and quick (a Mercedes E Class 220 taxi. Ian dropped us off in good time, and after Di had another cigarette, we proceeded inside.

Check-in was a breeze after a helpful chap escorted us around the not too long lines and dropped us at the Assistance desk. We stopped for stamps for Trish to mail a few letters and Di for some Twiglets and proceeded through Security — a short line that early in the morning. We could have gone to the BA lounge and sat down and had some breakfast, but, no, Di and Trish had to shop some more and I cooled my heels with our carry-ons.

Eventually they finished (and had with them still another bag to carry on the plane), and we entered the lounge. (Di and I had club class tickets and Tricia was flying coach, but the check-in attendant told us to have Tricia accompany us as Di’s “caregiver.” Who were we to question that advice?) We had a bit of breakfast and boarded the plane without trouble — Di’s scooter being stowed in cargo but leaving me with the 17-pound battery again.

The plane, a BA A-320, however, was not able to leave on time. Some passengers had not been able to fly today (reason not given), but their luggage was aboard. Therefore, their luggage had to be removed before we could depart. A “ten-minute job,” the pilot said. A “thirty-five minute job,” chuckled the ground crew. But, eventually, after the tower found us a new place in the takeoff queue, we were on our way.

The flight was smooth, and we landed in Corfu after a two hour and forty-five minute flight. We had to deplane on the tarmac and then take a bus to the terminal. Charlie had a bit of a slow climb down the stairs with Trish’s assistance from the airplane to the bus but made it with me following with too many articles of carry-on baggage.

When we got to the main terminal, there was no one to help Charlie with a wheelchair. I found one a ways off and pushed her up the, rather, steep and long ramp into the terminal. Customs was short — mine was the only passport the inspector really looked at.

Twenty minutes later we had our luggage and Charlie’s scooter had been delivered, and I’d put it together. We were off.

Our drivers were there to meet us and, after a little discussion, they, the drivers and Charlie and Trish, settled on one. It turned out to be a sixteen-passenger bus with five riders — the three of us and two other women from our flight. Just before we left the other two women figured out they were on the wrong bus, got their bag and boarded the bus next to us with the rest of their party.

Charlie had wanted to rent a car and have me drive to the villa. I convinced her not to. Boy, am I glad I did — after all, I couldn’t speak the language nor could I read the road signs — it was all Greek to me. There is no way on God’s Green Earth that I’d have been able to successfully follow the directions we had to the villa through the city and out to the north. But the driver seemed to have no trouble, and included a stop at a “supermarket” for supplies.Trip -- Villa Andonis

When we arrived at Villa Andonis, Nissaki, Corfu, Eirini and Dora were there to greet us and show us around. It’s a “nice” place. Pictures to follow.

(to be continued)