Am sitting in the college library wondering where to begin explaining about our 5 day bus adventure to Corfu, an island in the Ionian Sea. Some of you will shake you heads and wonder how in the world we ended up on such a trip...
I booked the "holiday trip" (it was over Greek Orthodox Easter) thru Costas Travel, a Greek travel agency that I could walk to. Emmanuela, the young agent with long blond hair, was happy to book the trip but asked one very telling question... "The tour," she said, "will be in Greek. Will that be alright?" I was so relieved to have found an organized tour within Ted's vacation time frame that I said it was absolutely NO PROBLEM. She assured me that the guide would speak some English. I figured looking out the window at the sights would be fine.
Our bus had about 40 other adults in it, some gray haired and reserved, others young and gregarious. We sat in the middle. When the guide wasn't rattling away in rapid fire Greek one of the rowdies in the back was leading a song or bantering with someone else or the radio was blasting Greek music. And when certain songs came on every person, young and old, began clapping and singing at the top of their voices. At the height of one of these singing frenzies, on a very narrow cliff hanging road, a young man was dancing up and down the aisle with an older woman. This was one happy bus!! Nothing like the green and white spotted ones, filled with grim and silent Athenians, that cruise up and down metropolitan streets. Eventually we figured out that some of the folks could speak English, so we were able to ask questions... like... what time should we be back at the bus?. or what town is this?... or where is the toilet!!
The guide, a very nice woman spoke about as much English as I did Greek, but she smiled a lot and would apologize over and over for only speaking Greek. The driver, Spiros, deserved a gold medal for getting us out of some very tight spots. It is incredible how those drivers manuver through narrow arteries.
Because it was Easter weekend we hit traffic both ways. The driver there took 9 hours and then a one hour ferry ride. (When we first tried to find the hotel both the driver and the guide got lost and were asking anyone they happened to see at a stop sign where they should go. Since it was an island we knew we would eventually find our way...) The drive home was worse. We stopped quite a bit but the entire trip from one doorstep to another, took 15 hours... We went to bed at 2 am. (The gorgeous travel agent with the long blong hair had told me it was a 6 hour drive, maybe a bit longer!!)
I got antsy on the return bus, but the Greeks just took it in stride, singing and laughing. Still happy. Three people got off the bus in Patras, 3 hours outside of Athens, and there were kisses for everyone else. It was amazing how friendly you can get in 5 short days. I will post more later, including photos. I felt we were lucky to travel with a busload of Greeks. We saw a part of their culture that an English speaking group would never have encountered. More later.