The EasyJet swung around for its approach. Anna gazed out of the window at the island ahead as the Boeing made its final run in. So that’s Corfu. The passenger next to her leaned over somewhat to get a view. ‘I’m so looking forward to the sun and sea.’
The passenger looked at her in surprise. ‘Have you been here before?’
‘It’s a tourist trap.’ So why are you going then?
‘The pictures make it look lovely.’
‘Well, it has some nice parts. Where are you staying?’
‘Sidari. It gets good reviews on Trip Advisor.’
‘Sure, I’ve heard it’s a great place.’ That sounds as convincing as Hitler’s promise not to invade Czechoslovakia.
The plane came to a stop. ‘Please keep your seatbelts fastened until the seatbelt sign is turned off.’ As if!
There was the usual wait as the access was secured. Eventually, after the crowd in front of her had collected their things and shuffled off the plane, Anna was able to step outside. Wow, it’s hot! She descended the steps and headed for the terminal in the wake of the other passengers.
She joined the queue and, when her turn came, stepped forward to present her passport. The functionary took it and inserted it into the reader.
‘Is this your first time in Corfu?’
He passed the passport back. ‘Have a good time in Greece.’
‘I hope so.’
She took the proffered passport and headed to the baggage collection. Ah! Carousel number four. She made her way towards it. Shite. it’s not moving. How long? Got to go to the toilet. She searched around and spotted the sign so headed off to the Ladies.
A bit later, after waiting in line, she returned. The carousel was moving, and luggage was being delivered. She waited patiently.
Eventually, all those around her had picked up their gear and headed through customs. Where’s my bag? She went looking for an employee to make enquiries.
Finally, she found a member of staff talking to a passenger. She accosted him.
‘My luggage doesn’t seem to have arrived.’
‘Lost property. There.’ He pointed. She headed for the booth. An overweight man dressed in white shirt and dark trousers and sporting a moustache sat behind the counter.
‘My luggage has gone astray.’
‘Please. Fill in form.’ He passed her a printed sheet. Flight. Destination. Address. She had to look up all that the form required. It took her a good ten minutes to fill it in.
Eventually, she passed it to the man.
‘We contact you when we find it.’
‘You’re not going to look for it now?’
‘You looked. You not find. It go,’ he gestured up into the imaginary sky above him, ‘God knows where. It turn up eventually.’ He saw her reaction. ‘Maybe tomorrow. But not tonight. No.’
‘What am I supposed to do without my things?’
‘Go to hotel. We deliver when we get.’ Well, that’s better than nothing. ‘Here.’ He passed her a card. ‘Your luggage ticket.’ Anna took it and put it in her purse.
‘Thank you.’ He gave her a wan smile before turning away. At least he spoke some English.
She headed out of the terminal in search of the bus to her hotel. She accosted what seemed to be an official. ‘Where is the bus to Sidari?’
He shook his head. ‘The bus left ten minutes ago.’
‘When is the next one?’
‘Tomorrow at eight ten.’ What?
‘Yes, yes. Tomorrow.’
‘So how am I supposed to get there tonight?’ First my luggage and now this. Shite.
The man pointed at a line of cars parked a short distance away. ‘Taxi.’
She went over to the first one. A man detached himself from a small crowd as she approached. He opened the boot of his car. She shook her head. He closed it and opened the passenger door. ‘Where to?’
‘Sidari. I’m staying at the Dalmatia Hotel.’ She got in. He closed the door and went around to the driving seat. As he did so he waved at the other drivers before getting in.
‘We go best way.’ He switched on the engine and pulled off heading out towards the exit. ‘First time in Corfu.’
‘Yes. I was recommended to come here by a friend.’ Her description of her week here made it sound like paradise.
‘Corfu very nice place.’
A car was stopped ahead of them at a junction. The driver blared his horn several times at the car in front. ‘Ilíthios odigós!’
He pulled past the stalled car gesturing angrily at the woman driver.
Anna relaxed in the back and nearly fell asleep. Their journey alternated between small urban areas and bare countryside with hardly a light. She was tired and closed her eyes. What with the travel and my luggage, I’ll be glad to get to bed. She did not notice the passage of time.
Eventually, they entered what seemed to be a bigger urban area. Their route took them through narrow streets filled with people. Bars, eateries and shops were all open, and people sat about smoking, eating and drinking. This is more like it.
Turning into a road, the car stopped in front of the entrance to the hotel. ‘Dalmatia.’ He gestured. ‘Very good.’
‘Thank you. How much?’
The driver tapped at the console beside the steering wheel. ‘Ninety-three euros.’ What? That’s nearly ninety pounds. It can’t be!
‘There must be some mistake.’ That’s nearly all the cash I have.
‘No. No. See here.’ She looked. Indeed, the taxi meter indicated the sum. Ninety quid!
She pulled out two fifty euro notes and passed them to him. He reached into his pocket and returned her a small pile of coins. She felt conned. I can’t believe it could have cost that much. But she remembered nodding off. It must be further than I thought.
She got out and slammed the door noisily. The taxi roared off. Anna headed into the hotel. There was a clerk at the reception. She went over.
‘Yes, Miss Bendrick, I see you have a reservation. May I have your passport?’ She handed it over. ‘And how was your journey.’
‘The airline lost my luggage and I missed the bus. I had to take a taxi from the airport. It’s expensive.’
‘Well, yes, twenty-twenty five euros depending on the time of day. The bus is only five euros.’
‘I was just charged ninety-three euros.’
‘That was not right. Do you have the taxi details? I should have asked for a receipt! Why didn’t I think of it?
‘Then there is little you can do.’ He passed over a key. ‘Your room is on the first floor. Number nineteen.’
‘Thank you.’ She headed for the lift. After a moment it came, and she had to squeeze in with a couple who seemed to occupy all its space. She could smell the man’s body odour. It made her feel slightly sick.
She found her room and unlocked it. There was an aroma. What is that? I can’t quite put my finger on it. She opened the window. Ah better! She went into the bathroom. Oh my God! It smells like a rotting sewer. She glanced around. The towels looked as if they were unwashed. Ugh!
Anna went back into the bedroom. I don’t have the energy to go and complain. Bed. Ah! No nightdress. She pulled the sheet back before taking off her clothes and laying them on a chair. She got in and lay down. Ah, that’s better.
She was just falling off to sleep when loud music blared from below. What? She glanced at her phone: 11:23.
Then she heard shouting.
Angry at the disturbance, she got out of bed and went over to the window to investigate. Below her was the swimming pool. A band of young men were sitting on the loungers and talking loudly and shouting at each. They held drinks in their hand. One of them was dancing to the music. A party. They’re having a party under my window. Oh well, it won’t last long.
She woke late in the morning. The partying had gone on to after three A.M. and she had had to endure most of it before eventually nodding off.
With only the clothes she had, she made short shrift of getting ready and descended to the dining room. It was nearly empty. A large woman sat at one of the tables engaged in sorting some papers.
Anna approached her.
‘I was wondering about breakfast?’
‘But it’s included in my room.’
‘Breakfast is from seven to ten.’ Her English had a strong Greek accent, something Anna had noted in the others she had talked to. ‘You should be on time.’
‘I overslept. There was a party last night. My room was right above the bar. I didn’t get to sleep until they finished.’
‘Tut. It was a Saturday night.’ She waved at their surroundings. ‘This is Corfu. Here we like to party.’
‘I would like to change room.’
‘You come on package tour, yes?’
‘We give tour company particular room. You talk to them if you want change. I no can do it.’
‘But…’ what can I say? I suppose I’ll have to contact the rep and get it sorted. ‘So, about breakfast?’
‘You can buy at bar.’
‘Thanks.’ I shouldn’t have to pay for what I’ve already paid for. That’s shite.
She headed out to the bar. There was a menu above the counter. Apart from a long list of cocktails, it offered cheese and ham sandwiches and pizzas. Not for breakfast, thank you. I’ll go into town.
She stepped out of the hotel into the street. The heat assailed her. It was clear which way led to town. Jesus, it’s a long way away. What did the brochure say about the hotel’s location? “A short distance from the town centre.” It looked at least a mile, if not more. How do you define “short” in advert speak?
She started walking.