Puncture after flat tire and a little sightseeing

Balkans Cycling Trip – Days 31-34


5-8 August 2017: Igoumenitsa – Sidari
We wake up on the sandy beach and miss the early boat because of a puncture (followed by another one not long after). We spend hours in downtown Kerkyra (Corfu City) before cycling up north to Sidari. A modest distance but tough hills and yet another puncture slow us…
Distance: 52+40 km
Total distance: 1530 km

Amazing sunset over Sidari 's bay

Sleeping on the beach was not as peaceful as we expected: we were woken by stray dogs and the waves several times but at least we were ready to go shortly after 6. It was important if we wanted to reach the 7 o’clock ferry to Corfu.

Our tent on the beach near Igoumenitsa
Our tent on the beach near Igoumenitsa

Hardships begin

The beach was only 10 km from the port so the plan was realistic. Then I felt something was stuck on my rear tire and when I removed the small ball I saw it was a thorn… It took me half an hour to repair the puncture so we missed the ferry.

 

No worries, we thought, at least we’ll have time to have breakfast. A nice cycling route leads into Igoumenitsa and we quickly found a small bakery. The bureks we bought were smaller and more expensive than in Albania but they were tasty and filling.

In the end we took the 10.30 ferry (there is one in about every hour). The journey to Kerkyra, the capital of Corfu, was hot but fast and as we arrived we sailed past the picturesque old town.

Great sightseeing in the last 15 minutes of the ferry ride

A little sightseeing

In Corfu City, we looked for a shady place where we could survive the hottest hours. Our choice fell on a small square with a church and tall trees. Later we managed to change our clothes in one of the nearby houses (the gate was open) so we took turns and looked around Kerkyra a bit. 

Windows in Corfu City

The old town has so much more than just souvenir stores

I preferred the less busy streets without all the English signs and flashy shop windows but we couldn’t walk for long it was so hot. We left the small square about 4 pm. Not the city, because in 5 minutes I had my second puncture in the same tire. This time the inner tube burst and there was a 5 mm long cut on the inner side near the valve. Exactly like the first burst tube on day 1 (by the way, both tubes were from Decathlon…) I tried to mend it in vain but we still had new ones so we could set off before 5. 

The back streets are surprisingly quiet

Change of plan

I spent a few days in Paleokastritsa some 25 years ago and my first thought was to go there again. Then I read very good reviews about the Dolphin Campsite in Sidari so we changed the plan at the last moment, as usual.

The shortest route to Sidari leads across the central hills of Corfu, which look harmless on the map but in fact it was a strenuous 90-minute uphill struggle to reach the pass. There we enjoyed the views a bit and continued towards the sea because it was getting late.

The well-deserved view after the uphills and the puncture

The third puncture

We were not more than 10 km from our destination when I had the third puncture of the day. The same tire and exactly the same cut on the tube, only a few mm farther from the valve. I had no idea what happened and I was a bit worried if it could happen again as I performed the routine tasks. We did all this in front of a house, where the family were having dinner on their terrace. Soon the daughter called out for us and asked if we cared for a fruit juice. A taste of Greek hospitality 🙂 We suddenly felt much better.

When at last we arrived in Sidari it was nearly 9 and getting dark. We found the campsite with a little detour and then Babis, the owner showed us around the place. He is an enthusiastic ex-journalist from Athens, who got fed up with the rat race 35 years ago and bought the olive grove of a monastery. He has never looked back since.

Tourists for a few days

Now we have spent three relaxed days in (or next to) Sidari. We spent our time basking in the sun or swimming in the water on the tiny beaches in the east (they reminded us of Thailand with the steep rock faces covered in lush vegetation) or hunting for figs nearby. In the evenings we chatted with the kind Hungarian family we met at the campsite.

The tropical-looking beach in Sidari
The tropical-looking beach in Sidari

On the last day we cycled to the next village, Karusádes. It is just a few streets with old houses that look like time stopped here before all the tourists arrived.

The real Corfu is just a few kilometers from the resorts...

Our favourite village in Corfu

We tried the traditional black bread and took some photos. Then we returned to the campsite for a goodbye beer and raki party with our new friends before leaving the island.

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