23rd October 2021
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 82 Floods in Corfu
An early Christmas present for the first ten readers to comment on this chapter of my coronavirus diary.
If you have strayed beyond the My Story section of my website you may have noticed that I have written nearly 200 guided city walks for the website GPSmyCity.com. This website has articles about cities, towns and villages all over the world. I am offering a premium membership of the GPSmyCity.com app to use on up to two devices, free of charge, for one year. All you have to do is comment on this instalment of my diary – you will find the comments section at the end. Now, read on, to discover what happened to me during week 82 of the coronavirus pandemic.
Monday 11 October 2021
I am up early, have a shower and then finish packing. I use the toilet immediately before I go out for a walk. I flush it this time as I know now that the water will not stop running. The hotel tells me there is a knack to flushing it but if there is I have not found it. I walk towards the town, partly on the sandy beach and a bit along the road. There are very few people around and the whole town has a closed for business air about it.
When I turn back I find a way to scramble across the rocky headland I had avoided earlier and find one of Enver Hoxha’s bunkers hidden amongst the rocks. The dictator built around one hundred and seventy thousand bunkers as he was certain his country would be invaded during the Cold War.
I continue along the beach but walk too far and miss the turning to my hotel. By this time, it is nearly 8 am and time for breakfast. I re-trace my steps and find the place where I got on to the beach from the hotel. When I get to the hotel breakfast is well under way and I am pleased to see they have some bananas this morning and have made some toast although the bread is only toasted on one side. Unlike the British the Albanians are not lovers of toasted bread. Replenished we set off for our first visit of the day – a school in old Himara. Due to COVID we can’t go inside the classrooms but one of the teachers brings her class outside to meet us. The kids are cute and very well behaved.
Curious to see more of the old town of Himara two of us set off up a steep hill following signs to the castle. Our guide has informed us “we have time” but does not tell us how long it will take and what time we should be back. We walk briskly up the path towards the castle. There are no more signs so we just have to guess. I think it is one way but my companion thinks it is a different path so we split up. I get to some fascinating ruins including a large church ruin and what I later discover is the highest point of the old town. We both find our way back to the mini-vans by different routes at different times. By then our guide has walked up into the old settlement to find us.
When we are finally all together we make our way to Porto Palermo. The construction of the castle here was begun during the fifteenth century and it was finally completed in the eighteenth century. During the Communism period it was the second largest marine base. We spend some time exploring the castle and enjoying the views from the flat roof. From here we can see the entrance to the submarine tunnel across the water.
After visiting the castle, we drive along the coast road (stunning views) to the little hamlet of Borch. Here we stop at the waterfall tavern, Ujvara café for lunch. At first we are not allowed to enter as the restaurant on the ground floor is being prepared a large party and at first will not let us in. When they do let us in they prepare a table for us outside on one of the small terraces next to a waterfall. As we sit waiting for our food the wind suddenly gets up and it gets very cold. Then it starts to rain and we sit there shivering until our food arrives. It does not take us long to finish the meal and rush back to the shelter of our mini-vans and our final destination today, Saranda.
Delta is making other coronavirus variants extinct according to a top government coronavirus expert who claims the Delta variant is now so dominant it is causing others to become extinct or decline rapidly. But warned it is still "early days".
New Covid variant could cause positive lateral flow tests followed by negative PCR as scientists investigate a new strain as one theory behind the anomalies, which have occurred in the South West of England, but do not believe it is a serious concern.
WHO backs third dose for people who had Chinese-made coronavirus jabs The World Health Organization says people aged over 60 who got the Chinese-made Sinopharm or Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines should get a booster jab to ensure they remain fully protected.
Tuesday 12 October 2021
When I arrive at breakfast this morning I am entertained by waitress taking selfies of herself. She totally ignored me intent on recording images of herself from all angles. She only stopped when two guests arrived. We only have a half-day excursion today, the ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO heritage site. On our journey there we stop for panoramic views of Corfu just across the water.
Some areas of the ruins are inaccessible due to flooding. We see the old Roman baths, the Venetian tower and the theatre but we cannot get beyond the gymnasium which we have to view across the water. We turn back there and take a path towards the castle and then drop down to the lakeside to approach the other buildings from the other side of the floods. The sun is out so these buildings are reflected in the water that surrounds them, in particular the baptistery. We retrace our steps and climb the long flight of steps to the castle and the on-site museum.
We drive to the village of Ksamil for lunch at a taverna by the sea. It is a lovely situation but the food is the most expensive we have come across so far – the prices have been very reasonable throughout our tour. After lunch we drive back to the hotel and the rest of the day is free so I have a walk around Saranda. This town is very different from the other towns we have stayed in and definitely more tourist-aware. The streets are clean and the shops similar to those in Western Europe.
This evening we have dinner in a local taverna. We have just settled ourselves at our table when we are asked if we would mind moving. Albania is playing Poland this evening and the regulars have expressed a preference for our table which is the closest to the large screen television. We are happy to move to the other side of the restaurant. Our dinner is a typical Albanian meal and the table is soon laden with food including Greek salads, Tzatziki, chips and piles of cooked meat on the bone.
Heathrow PCR test certified within 103 minutes and passengers using the UK’s four busiest airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted – can take advantage of a promised three-hour turnaround.
Wednesday 13 October 2021
At 4 am this morning that massive meal last night has its revenge and, as I cannot get back to sleep I have a shower and wash my hair. I finish packing and then go to breakfast early. As I sit by an open door watching the sunrise an amazing rainbow appears. It just goes straight up, no arch, but I can see each of the different colours. It cheers me up.
We meet in reception at 09:00 to got to the ferry port and get there just after 09:00 but, as we cannot check in until 09:30 we have a coffee. At the ferry we are asked for our COVID passports and our Greece Passenger Locator Form before we can board. Despite some ominous rumblings I survive the short crossing but have to decline an invitation to dine in Corfu town this evening as the group are making plans to eat out. When we get to Corfu the group are waved straight through but I am sent a different way and have to have a COVID test. A sample is taken from one nostril and I am told to wait five minutes. When my time is up I am given the okay and join the group at our transfer minibus.
I take advantage of a free half day to complete my Passenger Locator Form ready for my flight back to the UK tomorrow and make notes for my report on this trip. As it is an all-inclusive hotel I have two very modest meals and then have an early night. My room overlooks the runway at Corfu airport and the noise of a plane taking off rattles everything in my room. The planes don’t trouble me but I am woken when a siren sounds on my iPhone – it is an emergency alert regarding bad weather expected tonight. Certain my group, in Corfu town, will have had the same alert I go back to sleep.
Travellers ‘turned away’ from flights after problem with NHS Covid Pass and Britons already on holiday were banned from tourist attractions as people travelling abroad must show a QR code within the app to prove their vaccine status or print out a letter in advance. The NHS said the glitch was caused by a “technical issue with a global service provider”.
Travel rules mean UK is one of world’s ‘worst-performing countries’ for tourism according to new figures. Spending by international visitors to the UK is forecast to plunge by nearly 50% this year compared with 2020.
Thursday 14 October 2021
Departure day today and it is raining heavily when I get up early. By the time the taxi arrives to take the first people to Corfu airport the rain is even heavier and the roads outside are rivers of water. Soon after my first two guests depart for their flight at 1.30 pm I notice an ominous silence. No planes are taking off and none are arriving. I check arrivals and departures at Corfu airport and discover some departures are delayed and some flights have been diverted. Although my flight is not until 10.45 this evening I am concerned I may not get away tonight. But, by 3 pm the rain has almost stopped and I go for a walk. A short distance up the hill from my hotel brings me to the terrace of a large café. The café is closed but from its terrace I can see the small seventeenth century Monastery of Vlaherna. Situated on an island it is being battered by a rough sea that is breaching the narrow wharf connecting it to the mainland. No-one is visiting today.
I also have a good view of the airport. I am delighted to see several planes arriving, one after the other and the occasional departure. By the time I leave for the airport this evening all flights are back on schedule. My flight is not full and my plea to move away from a screaming child immediately behind me lands me in an empty row. I stretch out and sleep all the way to Gatwick.
UK Covid daily cases highest since July new figures revealed today show. Numbers given by the Department of Health indicate a further 45,066 new Covid-19 cases in the UK.
Friday 15 October 2021
My COVID-19 booster jab is this afternoon in Bournemouth as it is just over six months since my second vaccination. Volunteering as a marshal at vaccination hubs has put me slightly ahead of the game. So, after a few hours’ sleep I load the car and set off for Dorset. There are no queues for petrol at Sainsbury’s so it seems the fuel crisis really is over at last. That is one worry crossed off my list. The traffic on the M25 and M3 is flowing smoothly so I make good time and arrive.at the flat in Dorset in time for a cup of tea before getting the bus into Bournemouth. I get to Boots five minutes before my 5.15 pm appointment and then have to sit and wait until 5.30 pm for my jab. I sit for fifteen minutes after having the injection and then I am free to meet my friend and head for Chez Fred and a fish and chip supper. We have one of the specials – Brixham plaice – and It is fantastic. I have a pot of tea with my meal as I don’t want to drink any alcohol for twenty-four hours after my COVID booster.
Testing lab probed over false negative PCR results after 43,000 wrongly given all-clear Operations at a private laboratory in Wolverhampton have been suspended after an estimated 43,000 people, mostly in the southwest of England, were given an incorrect Covid test result.
Saturday 16 October 2021
As today is the second day since I returned from Albania I have to do a COVID-19 PCR test and then take it to a drop box in Poole. This also involves filling in an online form to register my test. I don’t realise this at the time – feeling very tired today – but finally get it done four days later! When my friend and I go for a late afternoon stroll along Sandbanks Beach the moon is out already in a pale blue and pink sky. We share two excellent pizzas and a bottle of very nice red wine at Lazy Jack’s. This new restaurant in Sandbanks is becoming very popular and every table is filled. Great atmosphere.
Covid infection rate in England rises again to one in 60 people as about 890,000 people in England had coronavirus last week. In Wales, one in 45 and one in 80 in Scotland
French fishermen threaten Channel blockade after France fails to secure backing from EU countries against Britain over fishing licences
Sunday 17 October 2021
It is some time since I last had a walk around the Luscombe Valley Nature Reserve so, this afternoon, as the sun was shining, my friend and I went for a walk. I was pleasantly surprised by the improvements that have been made. Large stepping stones have been created using sections of tree trunks allowing an easy passage over the muddy areas. It was a lovely, peaceful walk. The only noise we heard were the shouts of golfers on the adjacent Parkstone Golf Course.
When we emerged from the nature reserve we crossed the road and walked along the promenade below Evening Hill. Although it was nearing the end of the day there were still yachts under sail making their way out to sea. We take the path to the top of the cliff to enjoy the panorama of Poole Harbour below us. As we walk back around Poole Harbour we stop to watch a Little Egret stepping daintily through the shallow water and occasionally pouncing on an unsuspecting sand eel he has spotted through the clear water.
Royal College of Paediatrics head calls for an end to Covid testing in schools for the sake of children's education. Because the current regime in secondary schools - where pupils are told to take two lateral flow tests each week - is causing “unnecessary chaos”.
England to open walk-in Covid clinics for children aged 12-15 within weeks to stem rising rates of Covid-19 infections within secondary schools.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on Monday 11 October, a total of 8,193,769 (total that day 40,244) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 137,763 including a daily total of 28. By the end of the week on Sunday 17 October, the total of positive cases had risen to 8,449,165 (total that day 45,140) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 138,584 including a daily total of 57. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 161,798, an increase this week of 972. (this statistic lags behind the daily statistics as it is updated on a weekly basis).
More next week
Valery Collins is the Experienced Traveller
An excellent raconteur, Valery has been writing about her experiences on the road since she started travelling 25 years ago. After publishing four books she turned to online travel writing.