Monday, August 21, 2017

The Adriatic Cruise Diaries: Day 8, Friday 19 May 2017 - Basically just a rant about Corfu Airport

After a very hectic week, sailing the Adriatic Sea on the Thomson Dream, our holiday finally came to an end.

We arrived in Corfu at about 6.30am local time and the captain announced that we had travelled 1250 nautical miles over the past week.  The next destination for the Dream, on its alternate-week itinerary, would be a Greek islands cruise departing tonight from Kalamata.

The main problem this morning was finding a space in any of the restaurants, as a whole ship seemed to be going for breakfast at the same time because all cabins needed to be vacated by 8.00am. Eventually after a short wait we got a table and had our final buffet breakfast.  We needed to kill some time after breakfast so went for a walk and found a seat in an empty Waters Edge bar - a place where it was just impossible to get a seat since arriving.  It was nice and quiet, and I suddenly realise that's what had been missing from this holiday; peaceful, quiet spaces, and time to think.

As I said in the previous post, your luggage needs to be put outside your cabin door on the final night of your holiday, for collection at the quayside for onward travel to the airport. Again I couldn't fault Thomson with this one.  They were very organised with a colour-coded system of luggage labels for different flights so it was easy to find our cases after final disembarkation. We boarded our coach to Corfu Airport and arrived there at 11.20 am.

I had been dreading this moment given this airport's reputation for having to queue outside in direct heat.  Today was a very hot day (high 20s) but luckily those on the Glasgow flight were told to queue inside for the Glasgow flight, unlike the poor passengers for Aberdeen and Manchester who had to stand outside in the baking heat for hours. At least it wasn't too roasting inside. The toilets were dirty and disgusting though, and looked as if they hadn't been cleaned for years and the toilet paper bin was overflowing.

Back in the queue, we waited….and we waited. Corfu Airport was everything they said it would be and worse.  It is to be avoided and we will never come back here.  Even the clock was slow.  Avoid, avoid, avoid!!  Our flight was allegedly departing at 1.15 pm, but at that time we were still standing in a very long queue.  Everything about this airport is not fit for purpose.  You basically had to queue for hours to get into the check-in hall.  Luckily I had my iPod for company and I reckon I had worked my way through the complete track listing during the time we'd been queuing.  Faithful travelling companion was showing definite signs of having lost the will to live.  In the immortal words of Paul McCartney and Wings...."if we ever get out of here....."

Eventually we made it through to the check-in hall.  But the nightmare didn't end there.  After the check-in desk you then had to go into another queue where your hold baggage was scanned.  Then we had to make your way to another queue for passport control and then, oh lucky travellers, you had the chaotic, grumpy security experience awaiting you.  Although to be fair, I think anyone with the misfortune to work at Corfu Airport probably has the right to be grumpy!

Finally, we were through to the "other side" and yep you guessed it, another queue and virtually no facilities to speak of.  Eventually, what felt like 17 hours later, we boarded our flight to Glasgow. For a couple of different reasons I had quite an unpleasant flight home and faithful travelling companion didn't do too well either.  By the way, what is it with cruise flights that they feel the need to split couples up on the way home??

(I do have another rant in me about airline seating but that will be reserved for a future post about another holiday adventure....!)

We eventually made it home.  So, was it worth it?  For me, the Adriatic Explorer cruise had been built up over the years into my "holiday of a lifetime" and it was a fabulous itinerary with the backdrop of one of the most beautiful parts of our continent.  A collection of stunning destinations over the course of the week almost made us forget about the hell of Corfu Airport (well not quite) but we concluded:

  • We'd like to go back to Venice at some point in the future.
  • We'd like to go back to Slovenia.  Come on you airlines, bring on the flights from Scotland to Ljubljana!
  • It was nice to see Split again, although we probably wouldn't prioritise it as a holiday destination having visited twice now.
  • We wouldn't go back to Dubrovnik (major shock!)
  • We wouldn't mind returning to Montenegro.  Right deal, right place, right time, why not?
  • Corfu Airport - never again!
  • Cruise holidays are probably not our preferred holiday choice.  For us, cruises are a means to an end rather than an end in itself.  We wouldn't write them off or say never again, but I think it takes a certain type of person to really enjoy a cruise holiday to the full and I'm not sure if we are those people. There are many great itineraries and brilliant ships out there and who knows what's in the future, but we've probably got cruising out of our system for now.
What happened next?  A surprise city break in June which delivered and then some!

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