Greek Journal Part XI

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

Summary: DenverLondonAthensLeptokaryaLitochoroMt. OlympusLitochoro Kalambaka (Meteora) IguominitsaCorfu TownCorfu TrailIguominitsaZorganian Villages, Vikos Gorge and Mt. AstrakaAthensLondonDenver


6/1/2005: On the Corfu Trail, Corfu: Last night and this morning climbed on the lime stone beach boulders. Traversing out over the open water is an emboldening experience. The knowledge that the worst consequence of a 10-20 ft fall would be a dip in 75o salt water makes it a little easier to push the limits. In the end the only dip I had was intentional and refreshing.

We picked up some extra hard boiled eggs, bread and cheese at breakfast for our hike and set out to find our trail. There was a light warm breeze off the ocean and only a few non-threatening clouds so we headed out with our usual sense of non-urgency. Once again gestalt was our best guide as no trail signs or sign of a clear trail was evident. I found a break in the trees above a rock wall that seemed to go in the direction we wanted. We scaled the wall and found ourselves on a trail that tunneled through junipers and oaks as it climbed a steep hill side. It briefly broke clear at the base of a 200 ft lime stone cliff and then tunneled back in to the trees and undergrowth.









Mo ascending a lime stone step on the Corfu Trail between Liapades and Paleokastrista









After wandering through this vegetation maze for about an hour we abruptly emerged in to the town of Paleokastrista, Corfus second largest town. The town is featured on many of the island post cards and travel guides since it sits between two beautiful bays and has three white sand beaches. We had come in to a quiet area of town and right across the road from us was what appeared to be the continuation of our trail. We crossed the road and began climbing a steep cobblestone path that brought us to a road and the town of Lakones. Lakonas sits high above the Ionian Sea with great views of the west coast. We stopped at a small store and bought tomatoes, bread, sardines, Anstel and Fanta.









Climbing toward Lakonas, the view back toward the town of Paleokastrista











Had lunch on the back deck of the store with a view of the ocean below. The next couple of hours was spent trying to find the trail. Even though our technique for trail finding was improving we still had our occasional walkabouts. If we came to a branch in the road and there were several options we would usually wander a quarter of a mile or so down each one until we either found a CT trail sign, a yellow mark on a tree or rock, or the trail was eliminated for some reason. This worked about 80% of the time, but the other 20% we just guessed. Today we guessed wrong. We walked down through some magical old olive groves for an hour, connected to a trail that wound back and forth along the coast for a while, climbed a narrow winding path back up the mountain and two hours later came out back in Lakonas. Given that the town was only about 400 meters long, we had made mile of progress in just over two hours.

The other skill we have gotten good at is looking at these inevitable side trips as an opportunity to explore areas that we would have not seen otherwise. Traveling by foot is a slow intimate way of becoming acquainted with your environment. In my mind the trade off of distance to detail is much like the comparison of quantity of life to quality of life. Every mile my feet are in direct contact with the earth 1,000 times. I hear things, smell things and see things that I would never be aware of in a car or for that matter on a bike.

Back on the trail after Lakonas we headed for Krini. The town is located adjacent to 13th century Byzantine fortress that is situated on a seemingly inaccessible cliff top near the town on the northwest shore of Corfu. The fortress is located nearly 2,000 ft above the ocean on a rock outcropping that can be reached by a steep narrow trail. It was tempting, but with a couple of hours still to go we opted to continue to our final destination for the day in Agios Georgios (also known as Ayios Yoergios).





The Byzintine fortress of Angelokastro on the hill top next to Krini











As we left Krini we wandered back in to the countryside and through more old olive groves. The trail finally emerged from the groves through a gap formed by a lime stone ridge. As we stepped through the gap we were standing at the top of a magnificent trail that descended the near vertical sea side cliffs to the beach about 1,000 ft below. The trail was made of cobble stone and had a rock wall that protected the path for most of its course.





This Kalderimi, or trail (right side of picture), that descends from Krini to Agios Georgios is hundreds of year old











About half way down the trail we came upon a lime stone cave that had probably served as a watch station in earlier centuries. The steps leading up to the watch station were built in to the rock wall, and even through they were build 500-700 years ago, they were as solid as if they had been build by a modern day rock mason.









Trail side watch station on the way to Agios Georgios











We descended the trail and then traveled another hour up the coast before we came to the town. Before finding a place to stay we found a restaurant and immediately dehydrated and replenished our depleted caloric stores. We then found a two bedroom apartment right on the beach with a full kitchen, marble floors a granite fire place and with dinner and breakfast included, all for a mere 62 euros.


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