After our restful and scenic journey down the east coast of Italy, it was a hop, skip and a 10 minute taxi ride to the port at Bari. From there we would be cruising to Corfu in no time. Or so we thought.
We arrived at the check in desk to find that Greek Ferries – through whom we had booked our onward journey to Corfu – had, as we suspected, been somewhat economical with the truth. Apparently the ferry to Igoumenitsa on mainland Greece doesn’t stop at Corfu in May. It never has. On arrival at Igoumenitsa we would have to take a connecting ferry to Corfu adding a total of €44 to our return journey and all-in-all extending our one-way journey from a 40 to a 45 hour total. It was a blow but one we were half anticipating having contacted the booking agent a few days previously about another matter. Besides, by now we were fairly practiced at our zen-like approach to European public transport and also that bit closer to our final destination. What difference would adding one more leg to the journey really make?
After a rudimentary security check we boarded the once weekly Superfast ferry to Greece and settled down to watch the sunset with our now day-old French culinary tit-bits washed down with sweet Greek wine from the onboard shop. We also found the specially allocated seating area for those of us whose budgets don’t quite stretch to cabin class. Fortunately, it was mostly empty and contained a mini-cinema screen. Unfortunately, it was playing an especially rubbish Hollywood spy movie set in Turkey and featuring Liam Neeson. Having by this point shared a bottle of dessert wine, Nathan found it to be an enjoyable easy-watcher whilst I found it to be furiously frustrating, our individual responses perhaps saying more about the affect alcohol has on each of us than the merits of the movie itself. At around 11pm, we retired to the back rows of the darkened room where Zephyr and I curled up under our blanket and Nathan under his.
We were woken the next morning by the intercom announcing our imminent arrival at the port of Igoumenitsa. After gathering up our belongings we relocated to the upper deck with a still slumbering Zephyr all cosied up in his pushchair. As the darkness of night subsided and the ferry chugged along on its final approach, the mountains of Greece came into view for the first time. It was breathtaking. For Nathan, who had visited Greece many times throughout his childhood, returning to this place held a special resonance. And in the stillness of morning, nearing the end of our journey, it felt like coming home.
As we disembarked the ferry, we watched the sun rise over the hills. We followed the other foot passengers across the tarmac and into the terminal building, dodging departing HGVs as we went. On route we met another young family who were also destined for Corfu. We shared the short taxi ride to the next ferry terminal where we queued briefly for our tickets before heading to an undercover seating area and waiting to board the 0730 Corfu Ferries service to Kerkyra (Corfu Town).
The crossing itself turned out to be two hours long but by now time felt immaterial. We were so relaxed as we chatted to our new friends, comparing notes on travelling with toddlers, the realities of low sugar, screen-free parenting and the life-altering power of childbirth. Zephyr was in his element, marvelling at the intensity of the waves and curiously eyeing his fearless American girlfriend Evelyn. Even with the excitement rising within us, for the first time in the journey we were able to be totally present. It was as if time stood still. Very soon, the beaches of Corfu would be on the horizon.
And soon enough they were. We arrived at the port of Kerkyra at 0930 on Friday morning. We were met by our pre-booked taxi and after a quick photo and some friendly goodbyes and high fives, we set off for Mirage Studios in Arillas on the North West coast of the island.
And so it was that 3 trains, 2 ferries, 3 taxi journeys and 45 hours later, we arrived at our final destination.
Any notions we may have had about resting in the room for a while went straight out the window. Within minutes the swimwear was donned, suncream applied and we were on the beach. After the journey of a lifetime, we had our whole holiday ahead of us and it was most definitely time to get stuck in!
Without a doubt we’d earned it.