Sarande – Corfu – Saranda

5 May

Tomi found me riding around Saranda. He hosts backpackers in a flat next to the Corfu ferry port for 10euros per night. It’s a bit odd and definitely unofficial, and Tomi looks like a hardcase London bricky, and for 4 years, he was, and he non-physically drags you in there if you don’t scoot off quickly, but once you get past all that and you let your guard down you’ll find yourself staying in a very cool pad with walls covered in positive feedback graffiti, run by an extremely accommodating gent.

I got a bad haircut, I learnt a bit of Albanian, Tomi, another guest and I ate mussels at 3euros per kilo, with pasta and salad. I left some of my camping gear behind and took the ferry to Corfu, to meet Axelle.
I was supposed to meet Axelle at the airport at 6.30am, but I slept in and she took a taxi to the hotel, 10km down the road in Benitses. It was low season. Benitses was shut, except for a couple of bars and an awe-inspiringly expensive mini-market. We couldn’t afford the 5euro beers at the bars, but found local brew red wine for 3.5euros per 2 ltr, and tinned fish and bread for same price, and that was breakfast. A quick dip in the cold sea, recently cooled by melted snow, resulted in me learning some handy new French swearwords.

Axelle’s maiden voyage was the 10km stretch back to Kerkiyra, Corfu’s main town. Her cheap panniers broke immediately, so that they sat and flapped on the back of the bike, her water-bag backpack leaked, her new bike was depressingly basic with no kickstand and poor gears and, frankly, she was very slow. Worrying. The Balkan hills are humungous. Well, we would have to cross that Black Montain range when we came to it.

We had a good time in picturesque Kerkiyra. We watched a cricket game (English vs Pakistani) in the central park, then stayed with fantastic 20yr old Couchsurfer host Delayla, who is a complete passionfruit. She taught us about her firsthand experiences of dumpster diving, squatting in Greece and freeganism.

Home cooked pasta preceded a heavy night of drinking games, cheap wine and shots at the bar with Delayla and her good friend, a young and inspired peaceful pianist, Stellios.

The next morning we scrambled to the port, back into town to find tickets, then back to the port just in time to go to Albania.

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