Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Odyssey: Corfu

We arrived in Corfu yesterday morning after an overnight passage from Ithaca. After four nights of passages between Kusadasi and Corfu, Nan and I were ready to get off the boat. As soon as we tied up at the Gouvia marina, we set out in search of the Iliada beach hotel, where we had a reservation. We were a day early but it is still off-season here so it wasn't a problem.

Ithaca was beautiful. We rented two Fiats for the six of us and toured the northern end of the island. We stopped at an old monastery with a view of Vathi, where we had anchored Quetzal. Then we drove on to the Cave of the Nymphs, known locally as Louvias Cave. It was a disappointment. The 1953 earthquake which devastated Kefalonia, the large island to the west of Ithaca, also collapsed the cave. It was located right at the waterline and we were able to walk to it, but there wasn't much to see, just the grafitti and trash that are ever-present in Greece.

We couldn't clear into Greece at the marina, so we needed to go into Old Corfu. We all took a bus, which ended up taking longer than if we had just walked the three kilometers. We wandered through the narrow crowded streets, somewhat reminiscent of Florence, to reach the waterfront where the customs and immigration offices were located. After an endless wait, an official added a handstamp to our Turkey stamps and we were cleared. Nan and I caught a taxi back to the hotel and showered off the many days of sea travel, then ate a leisurely Greek dinner and settled into our first land-based sleep in almost two weeks.

We will be in Corfu until Friday morning, when we fly to Athens. On Saturday morning, we fly home. I think we will both be relieved to be home. This has been an interesting adventure, not at all how we imagined it. We had difficult weather at the beginning when we were sailing east and then almost no wind at all for the westward return. We needed to run the engine frequently to make headway, which meant we were going about five knots instead of the seven to eight that we would have been going under sail. We still managed to travel eight hundred nautical miles in fourteen days, but that meant that we spent more time on the boat than we did exploring the places where we made landfall. In retrospect, it was unrealistic to think we could re-create the Odyssey in that timeframe. Afterall, it took Ulysses ten whole years to make his similar voyage.

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