Balkans Cycling Trip – Days 35-36
9-10 August 2017: Sidari – Ksamil
We leave Sidari and head back to the capital of Corfu. This time our timing is better and we manage to squeeze two days’ distance into one despite the dizzying temperatures. It’s great to be back in Ksamil for one more relaxing day.
Distance: 92 km
Total distance: 1622 km
Back to Albania
As so often during our travels, we changed our plans again on our last day on Corfu. Originally we were going to head to the mountains directly from Igoumenitsa and reach Leskovik, high in the Southern Mountain Range of Albania, after two or three days spent on Greek land. But this would have meant 2 or 3 nights camping in the wild, not so much fun in this incredibly hot weather. Besides, we wanted to spend more time in Albania before returning home.
For this, we had to get back to the mainland and then backtrack all the way to Ksamil. Not so exciting but we were motivated by the extra day we could spend by the sea and the outstanding campsite at the end of the way. A long trip, because we planned to do two days’ distance in one!
We had a quick breakfast, which even included a Turkish coffee as I wanted to squeeze out some more gas from the old canister we didn’t carry on. Then we started the 12-km uphill leading to the pass and the tiny village, Trumpettas.
A better route
We expected something extremely exhausting but we tackled even the hardest sections with ease, thanks to the mild temperature. Also, this time we chose a different and more direct route. It was much more attractive than the one we took a few days before, with small villages and cute little houses.
After the mountain the road passes through one such village, Scripero, with mostly traditional buildings and old men drinking frappe in its bars. On our way down we stopped at the bar opposite the church for a quick drink. Perhaps it was too early for the old men because we were alone. But it felt great to relax a bit after pedalling so hard.
Crossing in comfort
Then we took the main road to Kerkyra to save as much time and energy as possible. We bought our tickets in the port and we caught the 10.30 ferry to Igoumenitsa (leaving around 11, of course). We were all tired and still sleepy so we ordered a coke and spent the whole time lying on the seats in the AC saloon…
It was pretty hot again by the time we arrived in Igoumenitsa but we were determined to make it as far as the last Greek villages (where we relaxed a few days before). We had a quick lunch outside a supermarket and left the city. It must have been well over 40 degrees when we finally arrived at the roadside tap with the benches. Exhausted and feeling dizzy, we lay down and had a little sleep. But this time we were less lucky. Three cars bumped into each other in the nearby junction and spent an hour in “our” refuge discussing the details. Then a man appeared from the fields and kept soaping his hands for half an hour (we decided he was a maniac of some sort). In the meantime we prepared and ate a salad and set off again around 4 pm.
Same village, same campsite
From there we followed exactly the same route as earlier. In Albania, we stopped in the same village (Xarre) as before for a coffee and a snack (the children and the shopkeeper remembered us) before we took the Butrint ferry as the sun set.
We arrived in Ksamil after 8. The friendly hosts were happy to see us again and we could hardly wait to enjoy our free ice coffees. As it turned out, almost all the guests have changed but the kind artist couple were still there so we could tell them about our experiences in Greece.
Needless to say, we felt we deserved a resting day after the long distance. So the following day we walked to the main beach with the white sand. It was a huge disappointment to us after the memories we had from 8 years before. At that time there were only 2 or 3 bars and very few people. Now the whole coast is precisely divided between a dozen or more bars and restaurants. There are parasols and holiday-makers everywhere and, of course, people collecting the money for the parasols. In the afternoon we preferred to return the small beach near the campsite, where we could at least have fun diving into the deep water.