Exploring Corfu by Quad

20110707-115920.jpg

The infamous quad we used to explore the island

Corfu Day 3 - July 6

Last night it was pretty quiet at the hostel, so I chatted with the staff and got to know them a bit. Sunrock is a bit of a unique place, because it's not quite a hostel, yet not quite a resort either. All the staff are backpackers from various parts of the world--some came here thinking they were WWOOF'ing (working on an organic farm) but ended up being put to work in the hostel; some came here with no money and now they can't leave bc they don't get paid, so they're stuck here indefinitely; some are just on vacation and decided it's a great way to stay somewhere for a length of time cheaply.

I met Meredith and Dana, two friends who go to Wellesley in Boston. They're the ones who thought they'd be farming. It's really interesting talking to them about college, since Wellesley is girls only.

Antony, the bartender, came here with 40 Euros in his pocket. I could never do that! He says he likes the thrill.

We spent the night watching funny youtube videos and having a dance party in the empty bar. They taught me how to Smang It; I showed them the Bernie, then gave them a tutorial in 80s jazz dancing and Double Dream Hands (youtube these immediately if you aren't familiar...you're welcome.) That led to us wandering next door to Petra, the circular club that is always empty although I have no idea why--if that was in North America, it'd be packed every night. We continued our dance party there, until the bartender asked us if we wanted drinks and we felt bad staying without buying anything, so we jazz walked out of there.

Mer and I rented a quad today--30 Euros split between us (Mer, you still owe me 6 bucks! haha) and headed into town for a quick bite to eat. I found this place that had real greek gyros for 2 Euros! So good--did you know they are supposed to come with fries inside them?...I did not. Amazing surprise.

20110707-115748.jpg

After that, we debated buying a map of the island but decided to wing it and just drive up the coast--we can't get lost if we follow the water, right?!

We drove into Ipsos, on the east coast, which is quite different than Pelekas on the west, where the hostel is. East coast is all pebble beaches that hurt your feet--so not a fan. It made me appreciate our location that much more, even if it's kind of remote. We continued north after a little photoshoot in the water, and went all the way around the north coast of the island. We drove through tons of small towns.

What I really like about Corfu is that there are no villas or mansions anywhere--everyone's houses are similar in size. Makes you feel like there's a real sense of community here, since everyone's in the same boat. I think it has something to do with the fact that foreigners can't buy beachfront property in greece--it's required to stay public by law (or so I'm told). That means the best locations for these villas are unattainable, and probably why there aren't any estates.

We drove for about 4 hours in the sunshine, the sea on one side, and picturesque hills on the other. The scenery here really is spectacular. We stumbled upon on of the horse trekking places I had researched online and were going to stop for a ride, but they were 2 hours, we were at least that far from home, and Mer had to work that night, so no dice. I booked a ride for tomorrow though, and left him a 5 euro deposit.

We wound our way through the mountains, and began to look for signs pointing us toward home...after an 8 km detour, we were just starting to come down from the hills when I hear the engine sputter. Next thing I know, we've lost power entirely.

Luckily, we were at the top of a lengthy cutback, so we coasted for almost 4 km without the motor, waving motorists around us. As soon as we hit flat ground, though, we had to get a running start before trying to get it going again. It felt like that scene in Little Miss Sunshine where their VW van won't start unless they get it going on foot and then hop in--that was us on this mountain.

We finally found a gas station and realized we were out of oil (the engine was a gas/oil combo). Okay, no problem, we'll just buy some more and we should be fine. That's true...if we knew where the oil tank was. Imagine 2 girls at a greek gas station, trying to communicate this to the attendant who speaks zero english. I finally got under the bike like a mechanic and figured it out. Yes, me. Under a bike. Getting my hands dirty.

I felt pretty handy until the bike died again, a couple of kms down the road. Shit. We kept coasting for a while, just hoping the engine had maybe overheated, and laughed at our misfortune--we were half lost with a faulty quad, no idea where we were going or what was wrong.

We finally found some signs pointing us toward town, and were on our way, until the quad decided to die again. In the middle of the highway. For real. We had to get off and push it into a nearby parking lot!

All this was exhausting so we headed across the road to the supermarket to grab some snacks--did you know Greece is the only country other than Canada that I've seen carry ketchup flavoured chips?!

The worker at the cash was really nice-he drove his car over to our quad and tried to boost the battery with jumper cables, to no avail. Then he called the company we rented it from and spoke to them in greek, finally convincing them to send someone to rescue us. We were 3 km outside town and about 25 from the hostel.

The guy arrives after a lengthy wait, and replaces a part (spark plug maybe? I got my mechanic's diploma earlier in the day, I'm pretty much an expert now), then drives off and leaves us there!

Luckily, the bike was working, so we get on and follow the signs back to the city centre, so we can go home the way we came. That is, if we remembered which way that was. We literally tried every single branch that came off this roundabout and none of them were right. This includes several roads that stopped being 2 ways for everyone except me...leaving us stranded in the middle of an intersection with greek people yelling at us that we're going the wrong way...thanks, Captain Obvious, but I think the stream of cars coming directly towards me gave that one away. Doesnt mean i can do anything about it! Then a squad of cops drove by on motorbikes. GREAT. I was sure I was going to get a ticket, but they more or less just laughed at these two girls who were clearly hopeless and foreign.

The very last street that we tried was finally the right one...after the 8th time around the roundabout we were on our way. It literally took us an extra hour to get home, but we made it just as the sun was setting, in time for dinner!

I had a fantastic time getting stranded in Greece with a new friend. Lesson learned though: cough up the extra Euro and buy the damn map.

20110708-120117.jpg Meredith and me exploring Corfu