The wind is in from Africa
Last night I couldn't sleep
Oh, you know it sure is hard to leave here Carey
But it's really not my home
My fingernails are filthy, I got beach tar on my feet
And I miss my clean white linen and my fancy French cologne
I was driving on the freeway today listening to Joni Mitchell on my iPod when a song came on that took me back to our honeymoon. Carey. Almost all old Joni Mitchell music has some special meaning to our relationship but this song brought the memories of our honeymoon, specifically Corfu, to come meandering into my thoughts. My Love and I had decided to take a 6 week trip to Europe backpacking and using a Eurail Pass to get around. I had never been out of the country whereas he had been six years before after he graduated from High School. I was a wide-eyed 19 year old bride on a huge adventure. He had our trip all in his mind of where and what we should see and off we went two days after we were married in 1977. At this point in the trip we had been away for five weeks and were on our way to meet his brother A. who was on the island of Corfu. His wedding gift to us was to take care of everything while we stayed with him there. We didn't know what to expect and when it comes to memories this part of our trip was an experience we would never forget.
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We had arrived in Brindisi, Italy via the train at long last. I was elated to be off the train because of the cramped conditions we had been in from Rome to where we would catch the ferry to Corfu. When we got on the train it was already full of young northern European's leaving for holidays to sunny beaches in Italy or like us to Greece. My love and I managed to find a place to stand or sit on the floor in the area where you would embark or disembark, right outside a toilet as all the compartments were full. How convenient if it wasn't for the hours I would have to smell that awful aroma. Of course the other smells were just as bad. Cigarette smoke and B.O. I had decided men in Europe don't wear deodorant since anytime I am in close contact with them I smell the pungent stench of their pits and bodies. The windows in the corridors next to the compartments open half way but somehow with all the tourists on board and the heat I felt like I couldn't breathe. We had boarded the train at 12:35 A.M. after sitting at the train station since 6:30 P.M. the previous evening. We had eaten an okay meal at the Train Terminal Ristorante earlier and would hopefully not be hungry till we got to Brindisi the next morning. That is hoping that the train kept moving and didn't stop like they did in Spain while in the middle of nowhere. Spain's train system ran on an always late schedule, seemed to have odd break downs or just stop and start whenever. So far the Italian trains had been running on time.
Getting off the train, while a relief, made us realize how exhausted we were from not being able to sleep or be comfortable for any length of time. But how could we? Bodies trying to get to the bathroom, bodies stepping over you or on you if your were sitting down, talking, smoking, talking, laughter every now and then, voices of other languages I couldn't understand that became a drone in my tired mind.
I really wasn't a very good traveler when it came to roughing it, yet at last here we were in a crowded area near the ferries, waiting to board a ferry to Corfu. My Love and I found the place to buy our ferry tickets and we were able to get our own compartment on board to sleep in as it was to be an all night trip for 10 hours. We had to hang around the port area from the morning till near 10:00 at night before we were to leave. It was entertaining that much I can say. There was guitar music playing, singing, and a young woman dancing near a fountain where we waited. I started to people watch which helped the time pass by. I noticed that a lot of the girls had on long skirts, or sundresses and I looked down at my outfit and felt very unfeminine. I was wearing my Levi jeans, one of the two I brought, and a t-shirt. I was feeling grimy from the train ride as well as from the past several days without a shower. I had brought only one sundress and at this point I was sick and tired of the clothes I had brought. I wanted a shower badly but that wasn't going to happen for at least another day. I couldn't wait to be at our next destination.
It got hot during the day and we had to wear our backpacks if we walked around so we tried to just stay in one place rather than do any sightseeing. There was a row of little cafes in the area and we read the menu's placed outside each one deciding where we would eat for dinner. All overpriced for the captive audience here. During the day we nibbled on bread we had bought at a panetteria and we bought a couple of liter bottled waters to drink from and bring on the ferry. Carrying the bottled water is a pain because they are heavy yet we need them. Amidst all these travelers I felt like we were in a crowd at Disneyland. Everyone happy and excited to be going on holiday. All day whenever a train arrived more people would flood the area. I kept wondering if everyone was going to be on our ferry or were there other ferries departing to take some of the crowd away.
Finally we were able to board the ferry! My Love and I waded through the crowd of still jubilant people hoping to find our cabin to leave our backpacks and walk around above deck before settling in for the night. Our cabin was pretty bland. A queasy mint green paint with two single bunks of black vinyl mattresses. No sheets so we would use our sleeping bags to sleep on. Nothing else in the space not even a porthole to look out. I was feeling a little claustrophobic and was more than happy to leave and walk around the ship. My Love was feeling a bit nauseous with the ship heading out into the Adriatic Sea. The engines were loud and the whole ferry felt the vibrations with every bounce over the water. It was going to be a long night. The main level was a large enclosed open area with hard bench seats around the perimeter and in the middle single seats bolted to the floor in rows. My Love wasn't feeling any better in there so we headed out on the foredeck which had more open room than the aft deck. It wasn't sheltered from the oncoming breeze but it was fresh air! We ended up sleeping out there huddled and cuddled together against the side of ferry sheltered from the wind before heading down into our cabin to reclaim our packs. The toilets didn't seem to be working on board so you just used them with your nose held, hovering over the seat and getting the heck out of there. I was getting pretty good at this but wishing I was a guy who didn't need to squat to pee. To bad they didn't have antibacterial lotions back then as I would have brought a lot along.
Our first view of Corfu was of the silhouette of the island against a blue black sky just before dawn. The sounds of our fellow travelers were like us, stirring and gathering belongings for our disembarking off the ferry.
But let's not talk about fare-thee-wells now
the night is a starry dome.
And they're playing' that scratchy rock and roll
Beneath the Matala moon