Greece is the Word

Woke up this morning again around 8.00am, and eagerly went out on our balcony for a look around.  Today we were docked in Corfu, Greece, in the Ionian Sea.  We hadn’t been here before, and didn’t have an excursion booked, opting today to explore on our own.  We could see another couple of ships docked alongside us; the Rhapsody of the Seas and the Costa Riviera.  The Queen Victoria looked bigger and better than those ships.  😊

The weather was mild, but cloudy, but Captain Connery had assured us at the ball last night that the forecast was good.  Therefore, when getting ourselves ready to go ashore, we decided there was little point in bringing our cagoules with us.

Once we’d enjoyed a good breakfast in the Lido restaurant, we returned to cabin 5130 and got our credit cards and currency and prepared to disembark.  It was a short walk along the quayside to the waiting shuttle buses, for the ride into town.  We travelled along the picturesque, lively sea-front, looking at the many fishing and pleasure craft, before coming to a small square.  Once we alighted from the bus, we spotted the open-topped “hop-on-hop-off” tourist buses, so we decided to take one of those, because they only cost 19.00 Euros each which was way cheaper than an excursion would have cost.  The ticket was valid all day and would allow us to travel all along the coast line, accompanied by a recorded commentary on the way, for which we were given earphones.

Off we went on the bus, through the streets with their whitewashed dwellings and bright, flowery shrubs.  We went up a narrow winding road, past an ancient fortification and a lively fish market.  We could see aircraft flying quite low overhead, so we guessed we must have been quite near to the airport.  Quite how close we were soon became apparent, when we looked down and could see the runway out in the middle of the bay.

At the top the bus came to a halt, to allow people off and some waiting customers on.  Our map told us we were in Kanoni.  We decided to “hop-off” here and explore in more detail, particularly as it looked as if we would have some good views.  We could see right out over the harbour from our elevated vantage point, but first we wanted to find an ATM to withdraw some more Euros, and get a couple of bottles of cold water.  We therefore went into a nearby general dealers and bought our water, as well as a 1.5 litre bottle of local rosé wine, which only cost €4.50.  We didn’t expect a fine vintage for that price, but it was 12% and would probably go down well on our balcony.

Afterwards we decided to have a cold beer overlooking the harbour.  We found a lively open-air place and I took advantage of their restrooms, while Trevor went to find a table.  As we sat down and perused the drinks menu, we waited… and waited… and waited while the staff bustled around and more or less ignored us.  They certainly didn’t seem anxious to serve us, so we decided to go elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the skies had darkened to an ominous grey, and we could hear the distant rumble of thunder.  Despite the Captain’s assurance that the weather would be fine, it didn’t seem to be the case, but we hoped the showers would miss us.

We found another bar/café with tables and chairs under a large canopy, directly overlooking the runway to the airport.  As we watched, a Thomas Cook flight roared in and landed in a puff of smoke from its tyres halfway down the runway, bringing another happy load of passengers out to Corfu for their holidays.

Some more rumbles of thunder sounded as we ordered a couple of pints a beer and sat under the canopy.  Across the bay the visibility was very poor and it was evident it had started raining over there.  Just then, there was a bright flash of lightning, and we counted five seconds until the thunder, indicating that the storm was about five miles away.  Over to our right we could still see some blue sky, and we spotted the red funnel of the Queen Victoria in the distance.

As we drank our beer and watched another Thomas Cook plane taxiing ready to take off, the sky darkened still further to a gunmetal grey, and a brisk wind buffeted round us.  Then the storm started in earnest, the rain lashing down in torrents making a din on our canopy. Jagged streaks of lightning, some so bright they almost left an imprint on your retina, rent the skies in two, while the thunder crashed so loud it made us jump.  As the lightning and thunder both occurred simultaneously, we knew the storm was overhead.  The rain continued to bucket down, and anyone who wasn’t under cover was soon soaked to the skin.  The little shop opposite us was doing a roaring trade in disposable plastic raincoats, while other people joined us under the canopy.

We didn’t see any more aircraft coming in to land or taking off, and we assumed all flights were on hold until the storm abated.  All we could do was sit it out, until the rain eventually eased off and the sky brightened considerably.  We then decided to go and wait for the bus and then go along to another stop somewhere on the route.

As we approached the bus stop, we were just in time to see the bus pulling away.   Typical!  By this time, however, the rain had stopped and the sun was out again, so it was no hardship having to wait.

Eventually another bus arrived and disgorged some of its passengers while we took a seat upstairs.  We then went along another couple of stops until we got off at Mon Repos Palace, passing the birthplace of Prince Philip on the way.  There was a pleasant looking park and some small boutiques and market stalls, so we decided to get off here.

We walked through the park, and looked at the boats in the harbour.  Then we decided to browse some of the shops and stalls.  The weather was completely different now, bright and clear.  We’d worked up another thirst by now (!) so we went into a pleasant pavement café and Trevor had a beer while I enjoyed a very palatable white wine.  By now it was about 2.30pm, so we decided to take a slow walk back to the ship, and clock up our steps.

We arrived back around 3.15pm, far too late for lunch, but missing a meal certainly wasn’t going to do us any harm!  We enjoyed a half-hour power nap and sat out on the balcony for a while, and watched as the Queen Victoria put to sea once more around five-thirty.  Then it was time to get ready for dinner.

Tonight, the dress code was informal; I wore a navy and orange printed floral dress with orange killer heels, while Trevor wore smart trousers, a shirt and jacket, but no tie was required.  Then we went along to the Britannia restaurant where I enjoyed a delicious roasted sea bass with curried mussels, among other things.  There was no sign of Guy and Tessa tonight; maybe they’d opted to eat in the Lido restaurant.

Afterwards we hot-footed it along to the Royal Court Theatre for tonight’s entertainment, which came in the shape of Mike Doyle, a Welsh comedian we had seen before on the Ventura in 2012.  He was side-splittingly funny and had everyone rolling in the aisles.  He seemed to appeal to an international sense of humour, as he crossed all the borders from America to Australia to New Zealand and, of course, the UK.  A lot of his humour was self-deprecating, which made the audience take him to their hearts.  My sides were aching from laughter when we left the theatre.

Then it was along to the Golden Lion, as usual, for a final drink and an attempt at the quiz.  The quiz questions so far this cruise have been on subjects mostly outside our knowledge, so we’ve just been doing them for fun and not handing our quiz papers in.  So we just enjoyed the one drink, then decided to go back to our stateroom and try some of that Greek wine we’d bought.

It was pleasant sitting out on the balcony in the darkness, and the wine wasn’t too bad.  We had one glass and listened to the soporific sounds of the sea washing against the hull of the Queen Victoria.  The sea has been flat calm so far; you’d barely know you were on a ship.  We hoped that we’d seen the last of the rain for the rest of this holiday, and we went to bed in happy anticipation of whatever tomorrow would bring.  We had another long, leisurely sea day ahead of us, and we slept well.

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