Western Balkans – Days 8-10 – Korfu, San Marino and Celebration
I had asked for and early 7 a.m. breakfast as we had a ferry to catch. Tatiana prepared us a fine breakfast with homemade cheese, jam, honey and fried dumplings. She was very charming again, calling us „good boys“ and „very positive“. The place was superb value for money, especially compared with earlier accommodations. And then Tatiana. Imagine the most hospitable and charming landlady you have ever met. And then put some iced sugar on it. That’s Tatiana.
We parted at 8 a.m. and rode to Saranda, our ferry harbour to cross the strait to the Greek island of Korfu. Thanks to the Sat Nav, we could find the small ferry harbour in the harbour and waited for the check-in….one hour later. It was only 9:15 and we were already roasted by the, seeking shadow where we could.
When another boat arrived and all the passengers wanted to leave to compounded area, chaos broke out. When you only have ONE policeman and ONE little gate that have to cope with with the influx and outflow at the same time, it get’s…complicated.
Finally we could enter the tiny ferry. All the good seats were already taken so we identified the free seats that would be in the shadow during the crossing. The only downside was that they were close to the women’s toilet. There was a large and noisy group of Polish tourists and after they had downed a crate of beer (!), the women lined up to get rid of it again…
The arrival at Korfu was somewhat less chaotic than the check-in in Saranda, but only slightly. The passport control in the building just took some time, but then every vehicle needed to be inspected one by one. We were last (no need to hectically queue, hakuna matata) and then the guy saw our dirty bikes and didn’t bother to inspect them. Well,…
What to do with half the free day? Our ferry to Italy would only depart late in the evening. We exited the harbour and visited the office of Minoan Lines as requested in the confirmation e-mail. However, this was a misunderstanding as it was meant that you had to visit the counter in the terminal prior to departure.
We rode along the coast, enjoying the splendid views on the sea and the small bays.
The idea was to have some snack in a snug location. Finally I spotted the right thing, called „The White House“, a restaurant right above the water of a small bay with a free table in the shadow. We ordered Greek salad and grilled squid and permitted ourselves a glass of white wine with it. The food was less traditional but with a modern touch. Anyway, it was tasty and we had to leave before the wedding party would arrive.
It was pretty hot and humid so the best place seemed to be the highest place on the island, in this case, the 900 m high summit of Pantokratoros. Home of a monastery and lots of radio communication. And a small café where we had a gorgeous view. And some chilled drinks.
We had spotted a tiny road at the bottom of the mountain, gravel, so we thought. We asked the barman and he said it „had a lot of stone“. We wanted to give it a try. After less than a kilometer, I called retreat. Stones, yes, but rocks? This was a tough road. Maybe ok without all the luggage and extra weight, but under these conditions…better to turn around than to risk a fall on the last kilometers. We rode down the mountain on some tiny roads and with good views. Down at the coast I had to fill up and had to help a very clumsy guy who tried to serve us.
After that, we rode to a taverna we had spotted in internet but found it closed. We picked another place with tables outside near the harbour and decided it was Gyros time with some beers. At 9 p.m. we went into the harbour and checked in. We still had to wait for about two hours until we could enter the fenced in area and had to wait another one until the ferry arrived and finally was moored properly. In the meantime I checked the air filter of the bike as it was running a bit rich. The dirty piece that I removed from the airbox confirmed my idea: I never had such a dirty filter…when did I last change it??
The ship’s staff welcomed us in the same way we would be treated the next 20 hours: rude and unfriendly; a guy trying to tie down the bike was shouting at me that I should lock the steering lock and fumbled with my keys in the ignition. I shouted back this was not possible and that he should take his &($%!!! finger off by bike and removed the keys before he could destroy something. The officer was also very charming.
The ship was a real disappointment, probably a punishment battalion of Minoan Lines. Instead of a plush ferry like the MS Venice, this MS Florencia filled the gap. Dirty, crappy food, unfriendly staff, no proper facilities…charming! We tried to kill time as good as we could. Epic: Greek truck drivers heavily smoking under a series of “no smoking” signs.
We arrived an hour late the next day in Ancona at 6 p.m. The check-out was quick and soon we were on the autostrada. As the sat nav said that we would arrive at the pre-booked hotel at half past eight, I pushed the XBR a bit….in the end we were flying with 150 km/h, a speed our bikes hadn’t seen in a long time. We made up some time and arrived at our 12th (!) country of our trip: San Marino. It is a very scenic place, dominated by a huge rock where the old town is located. We parked our bikes at the parking of the pedestrian zone and walked to our hotel. After a quick shower we were ready for dinner. The views from the terrace of the Piazza della Libertà are truly spectacular.
Next to the Piazza, we managed to get a table in the restaurant “La Terrazza” that has gorgeous views as well. We ordered all kinds of local products, beer (“Titanbräu”!), wine, antipasti, home-made pasta, Tagliata and desert. All very good. The gastronomic highlight of the trip. After a digestion walk through the old town we hit the sack.
The next morning we left San Marino not without filling up with “cheap(er) petrol”. On the way through the Po plain, it got hotter and hotter. Close to Verona, I exited the Autostrada and looked for a nice village, because the XBR was celebrating a special day:
I had never expected that I would ride 400.000 km with this bike, but it has happened! 400.000 km through 55 countries on four continents; the bike had sometimes some issues, but it never let me down, I always reached my destination, no breakdowns! Well, it’s a Honda! This asked for a short victory lap:
The rest of the trip was easy. Motorway in Italy and Austria. Temperatures up to 37 degrees. Lots of drinking breaks. Last scenic shortcut via the Achensee. Back in Miesbach, we went out for a Pizza (that we didn’t get during the trip) and concluded that this was a great trip, twelve countries in nine days, a lot of new impressions, and a good time!