We've been looking forward to this trip for some time. I'd set my sights in Sivota after seeing an aerial photograph of Sivota and its surrounding islands a few years ago. It takes a lot to drag me away from the islands but this is a trip I've really been looking forward to.
I had hoped to be away for my birthday in the 3rd week if September but it didn't work out as planned - not to worry - we know we are fortunate to have a second holiday in Greece this year.
One advantage of going a little later is that we walked into Manchester airport and straight to the check in desk and are through security in 10 minutes - excellent!
The flight is great - Just over 3 hours and non eventful - just as I like it! Great views if Venice - I love it when the captain gives you updates throughout the journey. Thomson airlines have gone all no frills so no more Aldo Zilli inflight meals or in flight entertainment - except the screen that gives you flight updates!
As we approach Preveza airport we fly over Lefkada and can clearly identify the long causeway joining this 'island' to the mainland.
We were out if the airport in no time. We had booked (very expensive) airport transfers with Suntransfers. A private taxi was waiting for us just outside the doors.
The driver exchanged a single word - 'give' as he took my suitcase. The journey started OK. At 7.30pm night was already beginning to descend. The road out of Preveza is a good single lane tarmac road and an open license for fast driving - and fast driving it was! Luckily I couldn't see the speedometer but Peter could and later told me in the safety of the hotel that at times he was driving at 156 kilometres per hour. Which according to Google is 96.93 miles per hour! We have a 90 kilometre journey to our hotel - our hotel us closer to Albania than it us to the airport and this driver doesn't want to hang around!
Now on a three lane motorway 96.93 miles an hour is pushing it but we're talking hairpin bends and unexpected creatures laying in the middle of the road.
After passing through Parga and as the taxi began to ascend the road towards Sivota, the drivers full beam picks up a body in the middle of the road - later to be identified as a fox. 'Fox' he shouts as it springs up and runs into the hedgerow and then he givesd out a large belly laugh. Peter and I laugh too though I think out of sheer relief and mild hysteria.
Within minutes of this, the cars' full beam hits a larger animal wandering along the side of the road. The young bull looks startled as the driver hits the brakes. Again he finds this hilarious and says 'Fox - little problem. This - big problem!' We also find it hilarious and hysteria sets in again!
As we begin to descend the mountain we see a cluster of lights over to our right. 'Corfu' our driver chirps up. It looks so close.
Soon after we are off the main road and driving through a village that must be Sivota. We arrive at the Albatros Hotel and with a handshake and a thank you our driver is gone.
The hotel is lovely - small and friendly and spotlessly clean as we'd expected via Tripadvisor. It looks very new - the room has a large balcony with side pool view and a lovely modern bathroom - a nice treat in Greece.
We quickly unpack and head down to the bar for a cup of tea, a club sandwich and a mojito.
Next we go out to explore. It's 9.30pm, the streets are empty and all we can hear is the chorus cicada's in the distance.
We have no idea where we are but decide to take a right towards the village - at least there were signs of life an hour ago. Sivota is small and a few sumermarkets, tavernas and bars line the main road. This then leads to a small marina packed full of yachts and fishing boats.
After a short meander we deccide to call in at Isabela travel agency to check out the availability of tours. As we are only here for a week we want to make sure we book onto the Meteora trip and also the trip to Albania.
Our hopes were soon to be dashed. It is the end of the season, the weather is about to turn bad and nobody has booked places on the trip to Meteora so far - nor to Albania. Disappointment begins to engulf me from the feet up but my brain is still thinking through some alternatives. The lady in Isabela is as helpful as se can be but she asks us to come back in the morning and she will check if there have been any new bookings.
Off we traipse, calling in at the supermarket for water and a small kettle for the room (and teabags).
Tomorrow we will see whar options we have!