So I had stayed in Corfu too long and was unable to book a flight home.
Eventually I found that it was possible to get off the island and head to Italy via the ferry (for some reason border control there was different). Luckily, some bloke called John had got his hands on a knackered old Ford Granada and was planning to drive back to England with his girlfriend (Tracey) and a Welsh girl called Leanne. For a fee, he was willing to take me along too.
So we set off early in the morning to the ferry terminal (after having to push the car as the starter motor had gone).
After a bit of a palaver on board the ferry we set sail for Ancona (I had actually booked the wrong boat and, after they had tried to physically throw me off, I was allowed to buy another ticket). It was a rather choppy 24hour passage.
From Ancona we drove up to Switzerland via Rimini, Bologna, Milan and Como, and camped by Lake Maggiore.
From Switzerland we got ourselves across the border to France, where things went ever so slightly wrong. Our trusty Ford Granada finally completely packed up and we were forced to push it a couple miles down the hard shoulder to the nearest town. The mechanic took one look and laughed – the car was a complete no-hoper. The best he could offer was to give us a lift to the nearest train station.
It was a Sunday and none of the banks or bureau de change were open – and I didn’t have enough money for the train to Paris. I sat head in hands, wondering what on earth I was to do. Then the monk appeared – like a heavenly vision. “Do not despair, I will help you”, he said (he didn’t actually say this, but he does in my rose-tinted memory!). And the kindly gentleman exchanged the last of my English money for Francs and gave me a little extra to cover the train ticket and buy a bagette.
So thanks to his kindness and generosity, I made it to Paris, where I was able to sort out the remainder of my journey home.
LESSON: NEVER LOSE HOPE (THERE’S OFTEN A MONK JUST AROUND THE CORNER).