Greek Journal Part VIII

Greek Journal: 5/13/2005-6/8/2005

Summary: DenveràLondonàAthensàLeptokaryaàLitochoroàMt. OlympusàLitochoro àKalambaka (Meteora)àIguominitsaàCorfu TownàCorfu TrailàIguominitsaàZorganian Villages, Vikos Gorge and Mt. AstrakaàAthensàLondonàDenver


5/272005: On the Corfu Trail, Corfu: Had a light breakfast of one hard boiled egg, OJ, bread and Nescafe.  Our trek started with a steep 1,500 foot climb over the costal range heading back across the island to the west coast.  Got an early start, but two blocks in to the hike we came across a hand written sign that said:

We sell VE

GETables from our gar/\en





There was an ivy covered walk way next to the sign so we entered.  Inside we were met by a very enthusiastic woman.  I think the enthusiasm stemmed from the likelihood that she probably didn’t have very many customers.  The veggies and fruit obviously came from her yard and very small vineyard (about 10 plants).  We selected four tomatoes, two oranges and two apples, but when we tried to pay she insisted we buy some of her home made wine.  She poured us a glass of her finest kokino krasi (red wine).  She then  pulled out about a 1 liter bottle plastic bottle of red wine, but after we made it clear that we were traveling by foot and that was more than we needed or could carry, she agreed to sell us a smaller size. 








At the grocery store in Paromonas.  Mo and the owner standing in front of  entry way.












We then witnessed the bottling process as performed by a true master.  The downsizing was accomplished by washing out an old 12 oz coke bottle and pouring some of the wine from the larger bottle in to the smaller one.  I believe the large bottle represented the aging vessel for the wine and accounted for the deep, yet subtle,  woody taste of the wine.  While the wine was not 5 star, the 3 euros it cost for the veggies, fruit, wine and the experience was well worth it.

Even though we joked about the quality of the wine it took us about 20 minutes to polish it off.






Mo buying veggies and fine wine on our way out of Paromonas










From the VE GETABLE shop we climbed about 1,500 ft of old trails and tracks until we crested the coast range and headed down in to the central valley between the east and west coast.  A short time later the village of Ano Pavliana came in to view about 500 ft below us.  The village is a cluster of orange tiled roofs and white washed buildings.  In the center of town was the church and school.  The sound of the children singing in the school could be heard all over the valley.







Checking out some realestate in Ano Pavliana











We descended in to the village and once again lost sight of any trail markers.  Using my very limited Greek we were able to get very rough directions to Stavros, our end destination for the day.  The rough direction were that the town was many kilometers to the east.  The initial challenge was to find the village of Vouniatades and from there hopefully relocate the trail that would take us through the Messongi River Valley. 

After walking some distance our spirits were hopes were lifted when we actually entered a small village.  The first people we encountered were an elderly couple, who in response to the question “Where is Stavros”, entered in to a heated argument.  The old woman prevailed by brow beating the old man in to submission.  Since we didn’t have anyone else around to offer an opinion we followed the woman’s directions and headed back down the hill we had just climbed.  A half mile later we met some lost tourists who had a map and determined that not only was the old woman wrong, but the town we had come to was Vouniatades and we were on the right trail before we met her.  The best part was that this whole experience was so acceptable at this point that it was more entertainment than frustration. 

Back up the hill we went to Vouniatades looking for the Corfu Trail yellow diamond.  We walked all the way through town and out the other side, but no yellow diamonds.  I was so sure that the trail branched off somewhere in the town that we went back up the hill from the other side of town and sure enough, right in the middle of town, nailed to a telephone pole, was a                                                 .





We headed down the trail in to the Messongi River Valley.  As we walked Mo commented that a line from a Bob Dillon song kept popping in to her head due to the roosters we had heard earlier this morning.  The song was “There ain’t no use to sit and wonder why babe” and the line was, ”When the roosters crow at the break of down, look out your window and I’ll be gone”.  We sang the song for a while, but mostly looked for trail markers since there was a critical bridge crossing coming up that we didn’t want to miss.  We did occasionally find markers, but they weren’t of the sign variety.  There would be a yellow rock or streak of yellow paint on a tree.  It was like a treasure hunt, but we were never sure if we were finding real or fools gold.  We came to branches in the trail that just weren’t marked and would either take an educated guess, or walk a quarter mile on each option and hope to find a marker.

By luck and the powers of deduction we kept making the right choices and by late afternoon we entered Strongoli, the last town before Stavros.  Strongoli is a speck on the map with one street and a trail passing through it and one café sitting at the junction of the road and trail.  We had been going for 6+ hours and were out of water so the café was a welcome oasis.  We sat at one of the outdoor tables and ordered our usual water, Mythos beer, Fanta, two Greek salads and bread.  The café was surprising busy and we enjoyed the company of four people from Belgium and a British couple.  One of the Belgium men asked the owner of the bar if he could play his guitar a sing a few songs.  The owner was more than happy to have free entertainment and brought a round of ouzo for the group.  When the musician started to sing I stopped in mid bite.  He had a beautiful, full voice and was singing (not by request) the Bob Dylan tune “It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why babe”.  He sang several other tunes including “No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley, American Pie, a couple of English ballads and a French folk tune. 











After this refreshing and magical break we started the final climb up the eastern costal range to Stavros.  An hour later we reached Stavros and what we assumed would be our final destination for the day.  The problem was that there were no rooms.  Not that there were no vacant rooms, there were just no rooms in town.  We walked through this charming and ancient hill top town to the north end.  The buildings we passed were aged and covered with vines and flowering plants.  We saw no sign of life until we came to a small taverna at the very end of town. 









The town of Stavros










The taverna owner, Costas, was charming and told us he was planning on building a motel on top of the bar sometime in the future.  He also told us to sit down at the bar, have a couple of drinks and when we were relaxed and recovered he would drive us the 10 km down the mountain to Benitses where he had a friend who owned a hotel on the beach and we could stay there for the night.  Done deal!!

After we drank and ate, Costas loaded us in his Audi and drove about 60 mph down this tight winding mountain road to Benitses as telling us on the way about his past life as race car driver.  He pulled up in front of the hotel and in spite of our efforts to pay him for his troubles would not take any money.  His friend was a nice middle aged lady who used to live in Stavros.  She took us up to our beach view room where we promptly pulled our chairs on to the deck and spent the remainder of the late afternoon looking out on the calm Ionian sea as the sun set on another long and memorable day.




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