The Trip — 2016: Part 15 — Goings and Comings

Trip - Our Family at Villa Andonis

The following day David rented a small boat to take his family, Helen and her daughters on outing up the coast. They were gone for most of the afternoon and returned early in the evening — the little girls tired and worn out. Helen, Eleanor and Holly were picked up by George, the taxi driver, a bit after eight for their ride to the airport and flight back to England. Helen will return in a few days with her son, Theo (her husband, Richard, is in Africa on business and cannot make it).

Trip - View from Taverna Agni
View from Taverna Agni

We’re all going to Mitsos Taverna for dinner at seven tonight — I’m quite looking forward to it: SEAFOOD.

Tomorrow afternoon, Kathy Hunsberger and her husband, Don, are arriving. Di’s schedule shows them staying for a week and flying back to London with us when our stay here on Corfu is over. And, yes, we will be going places with them in Oxford and London before returning to the US on the third of next month.

Dinner at the taverna was quite good — including the pizza and pasta for the two girls. I had the same octopus and seafood plate I’d had the previous time while Di and Trish had something different.

Trip - They're off . . .
They’re off . . .

Kit, Cara and Lola went swimming. (Cara forgot to bring her swimsuit so Trish bought her a tee in the gift shop across the street — that and her knickers served her well.)

Well, tomorrow arrived and so did a text message from Kathy. Their plane was delayed for three hours in New York, so they missed their connecting flight at Heathrow for Corfu.

I got up about eight and Dora was already cleaning the outside. I got Charlie up and went swimming. Before getting into the pool I took a shower but the water wasn’t running. Dora saw me (it was the outdoor shower for before and after swimming) and said that the water supply for the neighborhood was off — delayed maintenance delayed too long and something broke. Before I could say anything else she told me not to worry as there was a storage tank under the villa — good for a month of water for our use. It’s half full and will last our stay even if repairs on the neighborhood system are not quickly forthcoming.

Trip - George

The day went well.

BA was going to put Don and Kathy up overnight and on the Saturday flight for Corfu — but the Saturday plane for Corfu was already booked full. So . . . they were flown to Athens where they got a flight to Corfu and arrived here at the villa about eleven-thirty.

After getting them settled, we talked on the patio for about an hour and went to bed. Kathy and Don, who were not sleepy owing to their mussed up day, stayed up as we retired.

(to be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 14 — Fixing Problems and Taverna Agni

Trip - Joe and Di in the water taxi.

Morning arrives. Coffee, coffee, coffee. About eight the “pool guy” arrives and the day begins. Dora is also here and cleaning outside. She shows me what she has brought for the shower and I tell her that it is the right stuff. (Kit’s not up yet and she doesn’t want to wake him to check.) She also says that the plumber will be here between one and two this afternoon after he has finished a big morning job. The electrician will arrive about the same time.

The morning proceeds without incident and the plumber arrives about eleven and soon has the problem fixed.

Trip - Lola, David, Ivy and Cara in Nissaki Harbor.
Lola, David, Ivy and Cara in Nissaki Harbor.

We get ready for an outing today — we’re going by boat to a restaurant about fifteen minutes, by boat, further up the east coast of Corfu for a late lunch and some time in the sun and water. (One of David’s friends had recommended it.) The boat will pick us up at the Nissaki harbor.

After we’ve got our stuff together a little after one, David drives Trish, Di and I down to the harbor entrance and drops us off because Di is unable to walk either the hills or distance. We sit in the shade to await the arrival of everyone else (there are eleven of us) as they are walking from the villa.

Trip - Di and Joe at Taverna Agni
Di and Joe at Taverna Agni

I find the boat driver and we move our, too much, stuff to, and he places it in, the boat. Eventually, everyone arrives walks to the boat moored on the far side of the harbor. I’d looked earlier and decided to have Di walk up the three steps to the taverna and then wheel her through the taverna and then have her walk down the seven steps to the harbor rather than try to navigate the standard walk to the harbor. It’s a few more steps but they’re normal steps rather than the uneven large steps and uneven concrete of the shorter route.

A few minutes more and we’re off.

The trip is quick and we pass several large hotels and beaches enroute. Villas dot the landscape. We enter a cove with several boats moored to buoys, a dock for perhaps a dozen small boats in front of three tavernas including the one we are having lunch at — Taverna Agni.

Trip - Coastal hotel along the way.
Coastal hotel along the way.

Getting off is the reverse of getting on except that we leave some of the beach stuff in the boat. The only problem is that the beach and about fifteen feet between the end of the pier and the tavern are gravely and pebbly — impossible for Di to use her wheelie on. So, it’s Di, her cane and one of us on her other arm to get to and up to the taverna. We leave David’s rucksack, stroller and Di’s wheelie in front of the taverna as our table is right in front and next to the entry.

Trip - Approach to Taverna Agni
Approach to Taverna Agni

Our table has been reserved so we are seated immediately. Di is at the head of the table, facing the beach and sea, and the other ten of us are seated on the sides. Water and wine are ordered immediately and menus are brought and cogitated over. There is no rush — the meal lasts about four hours — and nothing happens in a hurry here. The restaurant is half to three-quarters full when we arrive and just about empty when we leave. The reserved signs on the newly re-set tables when we leave are all for seven or eight-thirty or so — a large lunch crowd, a large dinner crowd and little in between, is my guess (at least during the week).

Trip - Taverna Agni Menu
Taverna Agni Menu

Several starters are ordered and shared around the table; Di has a tasty Greek salad for herself. Some of us then order our own dinners and some share a couple of orders of mussels and chips. David’s little girls, having consumed several pieces of bread, butter and humus are off swimming with their mother to return during the meal. Remember, this is happening over a four-hour period.

Charlie has a Lamb Pot. (The lamb is excellent as I find out when she cannot finish the last two bites.) I have their Seafood Platter — anchovies, octopus, mussels, prawns, calamari — an excellent dinner, especially, since I had avoided the starters and bread consumed by everyone else over the previous two or more hours.

Trip - Holly, David, Ivy, Kit, Tricia
Holly, David, Ivy, Kit, Tricia

There is a sweet dessert wine and dessert for those who want it. David’s girls have an apple fritter with vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream. It looks so good that Di and Trish order the same and split it. No, I didn’t have any dessert; my seafood had been quite good and I didn’t feel the need to be rolled down the taverna steps after we were done.

Five o’clock rolled around and we adjourned to the beach. A real “pebble” beach right in front of the three tavernas in the bay. I sat at one of the taverna’s beach tables in front rather than bake in the sun or under a parasol — the temperature has been in the high eighties to low nineties every day we’ve been here.

Trip - Cara, Lola Helen, Eleanor
Cara, Lola, Helen, Eleanor

It took a few minutes to get Di into the water — the pebbles and stones of the beach were slippery and difficult to walk on but we got her in and out a couple of times and she enjoyed her swimming.

David, who paid for the boat and dinner, had to wait forty-five minutes to get the check to pay. Like I said above, no one was in any kind of a hurry here. (Yes, the food had been hot, that was hurried to the table when it was ready.)

We re-boarded our “water taxi” for the ride home about seven and took a little detour north to Gerald Durrell’s White House before turning south. Fifteen minutes later, after a refreshing ride, we arrived back at Nissaki harbor and disembark. Trish, Di and I have a drink in the taverna, two lemonades and a beer, while the others walk up to the villa. As I finish my beer, David arrives back with the car and we load up and back to the villa — a very nice day indeed.

Trip - The White House Taverna
The White House Taverna

(to be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 13 — David’s Family Arrives; More Plumbing

David, Di’s brother, and his family (Ivy and their two girls, Lola and Cara) arrived a little after two Sunday afternoon just as we were finishing lunch. A quick tour of the villa, a bite to eat and drink and the girls changed and headed for the pool — where they are playing as I type.

Trip - Fun in the pool.
Fun in the pool.

Helen made some lemonade and David, after spending some time with his girls in the pool, trotted down the hill to another taverna with televisions — think sports bar — to watch some of the Wimbledon Men’s Final and the Euro 2016 Final between Portugal and France. I may drop in later, but Trish wants me for “mule” service as we need more bottled water with ten of us here. (And, do I really need to watch another sports event on television and have another beer or two? Well, maybe the beer.)

Trish, Ivy, the girls and I walked down to the taverna and walked in just as match point arrived and Murray won Wimbledon. We had a drink, left and did a bit of shopping before returning to our villa.

David and I watched the end of the first half and the second half of the Euro 2016 final between Portugal and France on Greek (in Greek) television after dinner. Gahd, what a boring game — two teams trying not to lose rather than trying to win. Eventually, in overtime, Portugal won 1 – 0.

Kit, Trish’s son, was supposed to arrive a bit after ten in the evening and did arrive around eleven-thirty.

Trip - Fun in the pool, too.
Fun in the pool, too.

Monday was uneventful, until after 11:00 pm, that is. Kit comes running up from his room and “says” that his bathroom is flooding — he can’t shut off the water in his shower. Get Joe is the consensus. So Joe goes down stairs and takes a look.

Yes, the bathroom is beginning to flood. No, Joe cannot shut off the water. But . . . Joe does take the shower hose and hangs it out of the open window and the threat of flooding is now over. Hmmmm . . . what to do?

Well, let’s see what the real problem is. Hot water faucet . . . hot water turns off. Cold water faucet . . . cold water faucet just keeps on turning. At least we now know where the problem is.

However, we don’t know where the water shut-off valve is, although I suspect it is behind the panel next to the loo (toilet) — there is a similar panel in all of the other bathrooms. Emergency call to the villa’s owner. Yes, the shut-off is next to the loo (please remember, everyone I’m with is British). Kit turns off the water valve next to the loo — No, Kit, that’s the water valve for the loo, not the one for the sink and shower.

The valve panel is held on by two large Phillips-head screws — screws that have been painted over, on and into the panel. Besides, I don’t have access to any tools, even a screwdriver. Hmmm . . . time to get a dinner/butter knife.

I run up to the kitchen and get a knife. A minute later the screws are off and the Panel is open. There are eight connections behind the panel, nothing is labeled and there is only one RED valve handle. I try to turn the handle — no go — it’s frozen shut. Meanwhile, water is still gushing out the showerhead hose outside the window.

Trip - Greek to me.
Greek to me.

The owners’ mother shows up — she lives closer than the owner. She looks at the problem and tries to close the valve and has no more luck than I had. She, however, has a key to the maintenance shed and returns with a 10-inch crescent wrench — and has no more success than we’d had with our hands. She now uses the wrench as a hammer and after several bangs has the valve handle loosened sufficiently to turn off the water.

It is now after midnight and close to one. She phones her daughter and explains the situation. Daughter will bring a new shower set when she comes to clean later in the morning and will have a plumber install it while she is here. Oh, in addition, she is told by another of us that the AC in David and Ivy’s bedroom isn’t working properly and is dripping water. Yes, she will have the electrician over too.

Ahhh . . . time to go to bed.

(to be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 12 — Mitsos Taverna

Helen and her daughters arrived on time. The next day the women spent most of their time in or around the pool. It was a most relaxing morning and afternoon.

Saturday evening we went to dinner at the Mitsos Taverna at the entrance to the Nissaki harbor. Spiros, the son of one of the market owners was good enough to come and get Trish, Di and I and drive us to the taverna as Di was unable to either walk the distance or the slope (Helen and her daughters walked). Out of the car and up three steps and we were there. (There was a short, steep ramp for a wheelchair, or deliveries, at about a 45° angle, but we walked Di up the three steps and just picked up her walker and put it on the deck to walk to our table.)

As we had reserved a table earlier in the day we got the end table seating six with the beach on one side and the Ionian Sea on the other two sides. Just about the best place to have dinner with no noisy diners on three sides.

Trip - Di and Joe at Mitsos Taverna, Nissaki, Corfu
Di and Joe at Mitsos Taverna, Nissaki, Corfu

Di chose her seat facing toward the sea and I sat beside her with Trish opposite me, Helen next to her and Holly and Eleanor at the table ends. Water was ordered and wine and I had a beer — a Corfu Beer Red Ale Special — Excellent, and a second bottle later in the meal.

For “Befores” Di had a salad and I had Octopus in Vinegar — absolutely delicious. If I hadn’t wanted to sample some other foods, I’d have been quite happy to have had another order or two of the octopus . . . yum.

For dinner Trish and Di had the Salmon Penne, Holly had a cheese pizza, Helen had mussels; I don’t remember what Eleanor ate, and I ordered the Sea Food Plate: a whole fish, two prawns, a few sardines, some calamari and a few inches of octopus with a new potato and veggies. We were all pleased with our selections and wanted to return to try some other menu choices.

Di and Trish had ice cream for dessert (chocolate and pistachio); the rest of us were quite full or sampled theirs. We were graciously given a ride back to the villa after dinner. (In an old VW van that was used to carry fish and only you can guess what else over the years.) An enjoyable dinner in enjoyable company.

Di and I got up a little before eight this morning and enjoyed tea and coffee on the patio. It’s nice that she has her sisters here with us and conversation about her English family.

The only television is satellite news stations (CNN, BBC, etc.) or Greek language channels. I find this quite acceptable and am in no hurry to get back to America and our habit of coffee, tea and morning shows.

At home I read both the LA Times and the OC Register and with WiFi available here I still read them — both papers have E-editions. These are photos of the actual newspaper and I can read them on my Mac or Di’s iPad almost just as if I were at home. I do, however, miss my puzzles as there is no printer here. When we go to the market, we usually pick up a British paper and a copy of the New York Times International Edition (What used to be called The International Herald-Tribune.) and I work some of their puzzles.

(to be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 11 — Plumbing Problem

Late this evening, tenish or so, Di’s other sister, Helen, and her two daughters, Holly and Eleanor, are arriving. Sunday, her brother, David and his family, Ivy, Lola and Cara, are arriving. So, in forty-eight hours there’ll be ten of us here — so much for peace and quiet? Hmmmm . . .

Okay, so much for peace and quiet.

Trip -- Tricia and Joe with groceries.
Tricia and Joe with groceries.

I’m sitting in the living room reading the OC Register’s on-line edition. Tricia says “Uh-oh, Joe . . .” Both kitchen sinks are stopped up. No plunger. Trish starts to disconnect the drain pipe — in what I think is the wrong place. I re-tighten that section and loosen the cap at the base of the U-trap. Water dribbles out. I stick various objects up the pipe to the sink. The water just continues to dribble out.

I re-cap the U-trap and work my way up to the next link. The water continues to dribble out. I stick a butter knife handle up the pipe . . . ahhhh . . . something is dislodged and the water flows freely into the bucket we had placed under the pipes. It appears to be a flower and stem — problem solved. Bucket is drained. Re-tighten all pipes. Run the tap to check and everything check out okay. Ta Da. . . .

A few minutes later there’s water running out onto the floor again. Hmmmmm . . . It turns out that the pipes from the sink are not screwed into the final outlet pipe . . . oops. While fixing the other problem I’d accidently pulled the sink pipes toward the front of the cabinet and they’d come loose from the final drain (dirty word, dirty word, dirty word).

Trip -- Tricia in town with Di -- a break in the shopping.
Tricia in town with Di — a break in the shopping.

Okay, push the pipe in . . . check all the other joins . . . run water from the tap . . . nothing runs into the pan we’ve got under the sink. Use towels to mop up water on the floor. Hope things are OK. Fingers crossed — will check back later.

Later and much later — no further problems with the sink.