Corfu to Lefkada

The route

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The Blog

Days 21 and 22 9th and 10th October 2011 - Corfu to Lefkada

Days 21 and 22 9th and 10th October 2011 - Corfu to Lefkada

The skies were still stormy when we boarded the ferry for Igoumenitsa. It was also cold and we were not used to it. The medium sized 9.30am ferry was fairly full mainly with Greek coach parties but it was a pleasant crossing taking about an hour and a half.

Igoumenitsa was the same dreary port town that it was the last time I was here, about ten years ago. We stopped for coffee but just as we were about to leave the skies opened. It was one of those storms where the rain bounces off the pavement and rattles on the roofs. It took about 30 minutes to clear and we waited it out.

Once on our way we had a steady but well graded climb around the headland. As for all of our ride today the new road was smooth and there was very little traffic. Perhaps the EC should have done a traffic survey before funding this extravagance.

Once around to the southern side of the headland we had a light lunch in a little cafe near the beach. There are many touristy things here but most are already closed for the winter.

We now had a ride inland and the route took us up a valley without any hard climbs. It felt lonely here with no traffic and sparse habitation. We rejoined the coast high above the sea following a long climb. We were making for the seaside village of Ammouthia hoping that some kind of accommodation would be open.

As we cycled in the village gave the impression of being closed for the winter. There were however a couple of cafes open and we found a nice room behind a taverna. I particularly enjoyed my vegetarian dinner here but the cost was a shock after what we had been paying in Albania.

According to the guide book Potamos Akheron, the river that flows into the bay here is the ancient Acheron where the souls of the dead were thought to descend into the under world. Perhaps that is why there were several camper vans parked here.

Arriving in Corfu

Day 23 11th October 2011 - Ammouthia to Lefkada

On an early morning recci of the sleepy village I found a shop but it was not yet open. When John got up not only did he find the shop open but he also got some very nice bread from a travelling baker's van. We were very well set up for our last day into Lefkada. Even the weather was improving and, though rather chilly for these parts, it was ideal for cycling.

We had a stiff climb up from the coast and as usual I was trailing by a long way as we reached the summit. Fortunately John had waited for me as just a short distance from the top one of my rear wheel spokes broke.

The repair was done in the most wonderful spot high above the sea and there was even a mobile coffee shop and picnic tables. This did not make up for the break which just should not happen with this type of wheel. As I built the wheel I at first blamed myself, particularly as the break was at the nipple end indicating over tightening.

Broken spoke

Claudie has survived a good deal of mistreatment on this adventure. Being dragged halfway across Europe in a bag may have damaged the wheel. And in Serbia the pannier came off and I had corrected the resulting buckle in the wheel.

This delayed us about an hour but we pressed on making good time. We stopped just short of Preveza for a picnic lunch on the beach. We sat in the shade of the trees and watched while the bongo drum beach area was being dismantled and taken away by lorry to be stored until the spring.

Preveza has a 1600 metre tunnel which we needed to pass through to get to Lefkada. John had been told by friends that we could not cycle through and a vehicle would come to take us. As we approached the tunnel the traffic lights at the entrance changed to red. There were no signs saying we could not cycle through and when a car came the lights changed to green.

John cycled on but before I could join him the traffic lights changed back to red as did a second set a couple of hundred metres down the road. John dutifully stopped and then was addressed by a loud speaker. He says he did not understand what was said but I think he was being told off.

First view of Lefkada

Anyhow five minutes later a pickup truck arrived and took us through and all at no charge. It is all a lot less pleasant than the ferry which the tunnel replaces but it is much quicker. We were however irritated by not being allowed to cycle through a large well lit tunnel on a lightly trafficked road. It even had a pavement all the way through.

Following one last climb on a nasty narrow road frequented by inconsiderate drivers we were in the environs of Lefkada. The road in is flat and it is difficult to work out where the island starts. There are shallow lagoons, the home to egrets and other water birds, and the Venetian castle still dominates the approach.

John led me to his sailing boat where we would spend the next few days. There was much congratulating. John cycled from Weymouth to Warsaw last year and now onward to Greece. This part of his epic journey has been about 1800km, some of it very arduous. My part has been about half of this and John claims I have only done the easy bit because I avoided the hardships of crossing the Hungarian plains. It just proves that to real cyclists a nasty headwind on the flat lands is much harder than climbing a mountain.