Exploring & Escapades

bits & pieces of my travels

Category: Greece

Corfu


The ancient, wild, potent island of Corfu. A ferry ride across the Adriatic from Albania, a quick stop for us between one adventure and home. We travelled to Corfu for the airport, but fell in love with it’s architecture and the local foods, extending our stay by a couple of hours by opting for a cab instead of a bus at the last minute. In the brief amount of time that we spent there, I remembered how much I love Greece.

From my notes:
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We woke up early to run one last time along the coast of Sarandë before we needed to leave Albania; this time, we ran in the opposite direction toward the port, and it was an entirely different world. We hadn’t realized that there was a boardwalk with restaurants and souvenir stands on this end of the street – it definitely was a more active part of town, but there was no more time to explore. Our time in Albania we over. We quickly packed and prepared to leave by 9:00 am, since we needed to return the rental car. This, to be honest, was an absolute nightmare. At the time, all of the roads to the port were closed, our maps couldn’t navigate around the closed roads, and no one spoke English enough to help us. It was so, so, so stressful, especially knowing that we had a ferry to catch, but finally, the rental car company told us just to stop on the side of the road and that they would find us, which was such a relief. After that ordeal was over, we walked to the port, bought our tickets, and finally boarded the 10:30 am ferry to Corfu. Surprisingly, the boat was so old and dingy with no clear windows. It was a bit disappointing having no view, but at that point, we were simply happy to have made it on time.

After we arrived in Corfu’s new port about 40 minutes later, we walked toward the direction of the Old Town, and paid to leave our luggage along the way, before stopping for lunch at a small place across from the water for tzatiki, a local potato/garlic sauce, rose wine, octopus in vinegar, and a gyro. And then, we wandered for three hours. We stopped for coffee (frappes – my first) and for the local Kumquat liquor (so good – we bought some to take home duty free). It was a typical tourist village, full of food and shops. I stopped to buy a pair of leather sandals at one point, since I knew I needed a new pair for the summer. We chatted with the shopkeeper for a bit, a really nice girl from Athens, studying in Corfu. Later, I talked with another shopkeeper, this one selling Turkish cotton products, and purchased one of her drawstring bags that I loved. She was also so nice; I remember her very interesting accent. She said she studied English in Scotland, but was born in Corfu.

It started to rain in the late afternoon, but we decided to skip the 5:20 bus and stay a little longer, which ended up being a great decision, because we found a hidden Greek yogurt shop and ate the BEST local yogurt with honey, kumquat, pistachio, and walnuts. After that, we were satisfied enough to walk back and retrieve our bags to head to the airport for our 8:40 pm flight. It was all very easy from there, especially compared to our earlier trials in Albania. We took a cab to the airport, and sat our front drinking the last of our bottle of Albanian brandy until the gate opened at 6:30 pm. Then, flight to London, no line at Stansted immigration, a 10:27 pm train, and home by 11:30 pm. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful (and exhausting) whirlwind of adventure. 

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Posts from this trip:

Albania #1
Albania #2
Albania #3
Albania #4
Albania #5
Albania #6
Albania #7
Albania / Corfu #8

 

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Chania Town

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Wandering the streets of this old, ancient town. Getting lost in my favorite kind of way. The streets winding; around every corner, a new burst of color, an explosion of floral. The dogs and the cats and the motor bikes.

While in Chania, I stayed in an upstairs loft on one of these lively streets. There was a giant window seat, a balcony, all overlooking this and only steps away. I could have stayed there forever, lost anew every day.  

 

 

Mediterranean

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That Mediterranean sunset. Those last few minutes, seconds, of sun, before it dips and lights the sky. The fishermen lined along the wall. The water lapping, mountains fading in the distance. 

Alone on an island, taking it all in.

Chania Harbour

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The Old Venetian Harbour of Chania, Crete. I’m still pinching myself – is this real? The harbor was bustling, vibrant and overflowing with both tourists and locals. I walked along the edges for hours, sitting on the stone walls, taking it all in, and losing track of time. The blend of old and new. Serenity and activity. Alone on an island in the Mediterranean Sea. 

To think that a mere three days earlier, I was sitting in an exam room, oblivious to the fact that this beautiful place existed. 

Seitan Limania

IMG_4877IMG_4826IMG_4226IMG_4829IMG_4866IMG_4838IMG_4854IMG_4859IMG_4866IMG_4857It took me 24 hours to get to this beach. One bike ride, a 3 hour bus ride, a 4 hour flight, a taxi, another 3 hour bus, another taxi, and a literal hike down the fact of a mountain, plus numerous pauses in between (including an overnight stay in a hotel) – to be specific. And what an adventure!

On Friday, 5/27, I finished the last exam of my master’s degree at 4:30 pm. FREE. That night, I was on Skyscanner. Crete has been a dream for as long as I remember, and when I saw an affordable last-minute flight for Sunday, of course I booked it. Within 24 hours, I made a plan, bought a backpack. Another 24 hours later, and here I was.

Crete is quite a large island, of course. It’s more the sort of place you would visit for a week or two at a time, not a mere two days. Two days, though, are better than zero, and I wouldn’t trade those two days for anything. It’s a bit hard to find the words to describe this entire experience. If I had to choose only one place to visit for the rest of my life, I really do mean it when I say that I would pick here.

It’s something about the mountains, the way they span across the horizon until they are no more than just hazy purple-blue shadows in the distance. The candy-colored houses aligned on the hillsides. The turquoise water that fades into a rich blue. 

Seitan Limania is a secluded, small, and fairly hidden beach in the north east corner of Chania. I can’t even remember how I discovered it. I certainly had never heard of it before Friday. Somewhere between Google and Pinterest and TripAdvisor, it came to me, and it was the sort of thing where I immediately knew that was where I was going to go. I was nervous, at first, that after all my traveling, once I finally made it to Chania, I wouldn’t even be able to convince a taxi to take me the 40 minutes out there, down the winding mountain roads, never mind come back for me later in the day. I did find someone, though. All I can think of, as cliche as it is, is that it was meant to be. 

And so I made it. And even after I made it, the journey wasn’t complete. Because to get to this beach, one can’t simply stroll across the sand. I had to physically climb straight down the face of the cliff. No path. Nothing to hold on to, anywhere. Tucked away. It was waiting, but I had to earn it.

When I tell people I made this trip alone, the typical reaction is, “You’re so brave,” and, “I’m so jealous, I wish I could do that.” I’m not brave. I have my moments of slight terror solo traveling – the “am I really doing this” type of feeling. I don’t have a secret super power. With travel, adventures, you just do it. You look at it for what it is and decide to do it anyway, because your heart craves it.

Life is full of beautiful things. Sometimes, we need to descend a few cliffs to get to them. But they are there, waiting for us. 

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