One night in Corfu Airport
Would you spend the night in an airport if it meant you could visit someplace new?... A true traveller will do whatever it takes and make whatever sacrifice they must in order to take a trip and/or save on their budget. My night in Corfu airport was the night I became a true traveller.
I imagine most people would dread the forthcoming evening they were to spend sleeping in an airport but I felt ok about it, I mean I wasn't looking forward to it! But I wasn't freaking out either. I suppose I was mentally prepared having made the decision months before. My flight from London arrived at 10pm and I was travelling to Albania via boat early the next morning. I searched for accomodation near the port but this was a last minute trip so the options were limited. As it turned out it would cost €50.00 to stay near the port for the night and in my book that's far too much! Especially when I'd arrive to the accomodation around midnight and leave at 7am the next day. I decided it wasn't worth €50.00 to sleep in a bed for 7 hours, I'd save the cash and shack up on a nice airport bench instead. My fiancé wasn't impressed with the plan and my Mum was strictly not to know about it until after.
During my online quest to find out if Corfu airport was open 24 hours I found a blog post from another traveller who'd done exactly what I was planning. Thanks to her I knew security wouldn't kick me out which was the first green light I needed. The next thing I had to know was how safe I'd be and from reading that same post I was confident I'd be fine. If anything it's one of the safest places you could be with security patrolling 24 hours, maybe I'll do it more often...
After stepping off the plane I hung back while everyone else charged for passport control, shoulder barging and running as quickly as their legs could carry them. It was nice not being in a rush for a change. I exited customs around 11pm and after walking from one end of the arrivals hall to the other I discovered a little spot tucked around a corner out of view of the main foyer area, jackpot! it had a clean, reasonably comfortable looking metal bench and as soon as I saw it I knew it would my bed for the night.
For an hour I sat and read in my quiet little spot. I thought "This isn't so bad" I'd prepared myself for a rough night but was beginning to think it'd be more bearable than I'd imagined. I did still have a mission ahead of me though, I had to source a power point to charge my phone. This mission was of great importance, a high profile case. I needed my phone (google maps) to get me to the port the next morning and it would prove to be more difficult than I'd hoped!
After an hour of reading I got up and did a few laps of the airport, it's a small space probably the smallest airport I've ever been in so there weren't many places to look. After two laps I found nothing and decided it was best I stopped lurking behind shops and under benches, so I went and sat back down while I thought of my next move. I felt like James Bond.
I sat inconspicuously (or so I imagined) with my book open, not reading. I was major stressing about how I'd find the port in the morning if I couldn't charge my phone. Of course I could get a taxi I knew that, but do you think I was about to render my night in the airport meaningless by splurging on a cab? No way! I HAD to find a powerpoint.
I decided I'd go to the toilet, I didn't need to but it was a way of passing the time. The bathrooms were surprisingly modern and clean, and yes I did consider sleeping in a cubicle. An internal debate commenced before the hidden bench won as my bunk for the night. As I washed my hands and cursed my heinous reflection in the mirror, I noticed the hand dryers were of the old fashioned sort. This got me excited. Upon closer inspection I saw they had cords which led to regular power sockets, WIN! I resisted the urge to fist pump the air. It was about midnight now and although the airport was less busy there were still people milling about so I thought it best to wait before I unplugged one of the airport's hygiene amenities.
I went and sat back in my secret spot which by now I was becoming quite attached to, if anyone had taken it I might have gone primal to protect my territory, thankfully no-one had. I read for half an hour longer.
It was edging towards half past midnight now and I was getting tired, there were still people around but I couldn't wait any longer. I made my way to the bathroom feeling like a felon on the run.
You know that saying "If you look like you belong no-one will think that you don't"? Well I am 100% not the type of person who harbours the ability to ring that saying true. I tried to look casual but when you're tampering with a public bathroom hand dryer it's hard not to look suspicious. The cleaner must have walked past the door 3 times, each time eyeing me more curiously. Whenever someone came to use the toilet I quickly busied myself at the mirror, fixing my hair or applying lip gloss (as if that was going to help on the appearance front) I got a few "What on earth?" Glances from people but no-one said anything. I felt nervous, as if with each passing minute my luck was wearing thinner. I told myself to stop being silly, I wasn't shooting heroine I was just charging my phone! But still I couldn't shake the feeling I was doing something highly illegal. The most tense 30 minutes of my life passed, I let my battery reach 50% and scurried back to my airport cave.
It was bedtime now. I wasn't sure if I'd actually get any sleep but my eyelids were heavy and my head throbbed so I was going to try. My carry on bag became a substitute pillow and the sarong I'd packed was my blanket. I curled up hugging my shoulder bag and brand new (highly valuable) Akubra hat to my chest. To be honest any concern I felt wasn't for my bag or even myself, it was for the hat! But in my hidden airport cove and with the sarong covering me all worry subsided and I drifted off to sleep.
I woke an hour later. I'd been torn from my slumber by a group of young girls who'd taken refuge on some benches nearby, they were giggling and playing music loudly. Luckily I always travel prepared, I whipped out my industrial grade earplugs (thanks Dad) and all noise dissipated. As I was falling asleep I noticed the pay phone in front of my metal bed was ringing. I couldn't hear it (that sense was thoroughly out of action) but I could see the light flashing with a number. I thought "Who on earth would be calling Corfu airport at 2am?" I envisioned a 'Phone booth' scenario playing out, safe to say I didn't pick it up. I went back to sleep.
The next time I woke it was 5am. To my own surprise I'd had an uninterrupted two and a half hour sleep! On top of the hour I'd already had this was more than I'd expected and I felt spritely. I got up, tempted to wake the young girls who'd disturbed me earlier as they were all asleep now, I resisted the urge. I texted my fiancé (to his immense relief) I later found out he hadn't slept all night worrying about me. Then I went to the bathroom, freshened up as best I could whilst dreaming of a shower, once again cursing my reflection and half an hour later I was on my way to the port.
It was a one hour walk according to google maps, a walk which turned into two hours because the sun was rising and it was irresistible so I kept stopping to take photos. I took a break about halfway to watch that magical moment when the sun bursts over the horizon. It's even more beautiful when you see it over the ocean, reflecting on the still water. It computed that this was worth spending the night on a metal bench. Sitting there I had one of those profound moments where you wouldn't rather be anywhere or anyone else. Those moments where you feel nothing but pure, intoxicating joy.
Not long after that I arrived at the port with enough time to spare for a coffee, I was exhausted. I dragged my tired legs over to the boat and 30 minutes later stepped onto Albanian soil (but not before being chatted up by a bloke who I can only assume was a kidnapper considering he asked exactly which town I was travelling to and where I was staying) I thought "I made it! I'm here, the worst is over" All that's left to do is get to my accomodation which will be easy. Or so I thought. My night in the airport had been a breeze compared to what happened next!
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Over and out x