Friday, August 17, 2018


We drive back to Athens, stopping just across the isthmus in Agioi Theodori for lunch and a quick swim in the Saronic Gulf. Beachside eateries line the shore which is heaving with locals on holiday, parasol-covered tables and sunchairs as far as the eye can see. As in almost every town we’ve visited in Greece, the actual restaurants are on the other side of the seaside drive so the waiters have to dodge traffic to bring you a frosty mug of Alpha beer.

The airport is full of travellers from all corners of the world, largely europeans, many of them running desperately for planes, many of them looking very pink and quite hung over. Our flight to Corfu is heavenly, always within sight of land, watching the landscape unfold, tracking our progress with google maps and marvelling at the shapes of lakes and shoreline below. The descent into Corfu is my favourite kind of approach — hanging over water until a moment before the wheels touch down.

Surprised by the heat coming off the plane I realize the temperature is actualy lower but the humidity is oppressive. We take the bus to San Rocco Square and then pick our way through the labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and squares that is Corfu Town, our bags making a racket on the rough road. Our hotel is right on the main square, a dusty old place tucked behind a McDonald’s (home of the Greek Mac). The lobby, upholstered to within an inch of its life, would fit into my bedroom. The elevator is so tight it would be awkward to be inside with anyone other than one’s husband. Our room looks over one of two forts that bookend the town. Narrow streets and narrower alleys with endless shops selling identical white dresses with gold braid, seashell tchatchkas, tacky t-shirts and linen. Hundreds of swallows dip and dive over the square in aerial acrobatics. The square is alive with meandering people, vendors under white tents and music. It has a bit of a mexican Zócalo feel to it.

We wander around aimlessly with the heaps of other tourists and have a very unmemorable dinner. We cut the kids loose to take in the nightlife at their own pace and hit the sack. In the morning, Wil and I walk along the sea, watching café owners setting out their tables and delivery men doing their rounds. Hanging over the edge of the seawall to admire the clouds, we spot a young man asleep on the shore, his belongings in little piles around him. He looks so perfect and peaceful, his pose so unguarded that, at the risk of waking him, i have to go back and take his picture, worried his eyes will open to find some crazy woman hanging directly above him with camera in hand.

We watch an endless line of scouts with backpacks, in shorts with khaki handkerchiefs tied ‘round their necks, trooping through the town in ones and twos. The first group carries sleeping bags and tents, the next batch boxed lunches, the last of them humping coils of rope and huge see-through tupperwares with everything but the kitchen sink. Different notions of roughing it.

We come across a young busker strumming his guitar in a square. It is the sleeping man. There’s a story there.

Churchbells peal, bearded orthodox priests hurry to service in their flat-topped skoufos hats and full-length black vestments, rope belt fluttering behind them. The smell of incense brings back memories of the tedious masses of my youth. We make our way past the New Fortress (it’s all relative as this one was built in the 1500’s) on our way home. High stone walls tower over us on both sides, a vertical drop on the fortress side, a sloping wall on the other with the road between, a perfect place to trap those bold or stupid enough to attack. Those must have been savage times. We head to the port with the kids and our bags for our meeting at 2 to meet the sea taxi. We look up from our table to see a familiar face go by, the one-and-only Jimbo Measures, who is waiting for the same sea taxi and our hosts.

The crossing is a delight. Everyone’s face plastered with a smile as the cousins find each other again. We are all feeling rather lucky.

1 comment:

Jenny Wren said...

Great writing Sassy. What a fantastic colourful adventure. Sending love to you all ����