Today was quite the exciting day. I got rear ended about 100 yards from my driveway. I had heard that when driving in Greece you should assume that you are the only person who actually passed a driving test since everyone there just bribes the tester. Well, this proved true today.
The roads in Corfu are uneven ( nice way of saying bad). Some spots are rather narrow with barely enough room for one car, let alone two. So you have mirrors and you honk your horn a lot. I was coming to one of those narrow spots when I heard a truck honk his horn and I saw him on the mirror so I stopped. The guy behind me was flying down the road and didn’t. So started my day with a car accident. I was glad that for once in my life I had purchased the extra insurance. So I got to spend time at the police station Bernitses. What can I say about the police? They go at their own speed. It seems like they spend a lot of time and energy running around the station doing nothing, looking for paperwork. But they were polite and got us out of there quickly (for Greek standards). Since no one was hurt we were relieved.
Only the bumper got damaged, but the other car didn’t fare as well.
We didn’t let a car accident spoil our day. We went to Paleokastrista. It was quite the drive through mountain passes but we were so richly rewarded. Before you get to the beach you have some amazing views and even some spots where you can stop to take pictures.
Once we got to the beach we went on a boat ride. It was only 10E each. We got to see the Blue Eye, the Pink Grotto and other beautiful caves with brilliant blue waters and the beautiful beaches around. A must do. The boats depart every few minutes from the dock and are a great way to see the scenery. The beach is very pebbly so not a great place to enjoy the sun.
However, Glifada beach is not too far (the same side of the island and a bit further south). This beach is amazing. It is sandy and there are virtually no waves so you can walk a long ways and still only have water chest high. There were tons of fish swimming around you. There are some tavernas and only a few hotels since it is rather mountainous around it. This was by far one of my favorite times on the island. It was so fun to just lay around the beach and enjoy the sun, sand and the water.
Today we had dinner in Benitses once again. We went to a restaurant that doesn’t look very great on the outside but it was great inside. It is called Big Bite. It is right on the beach so we sat outside and just enjoyed the seaview with our dinner. We had some local specialties that we delicious and pretty affordable. We also walked around Benitses and saw some of the local shops.
I have to say that today we were so exhausted that we just sat around our condo for most of the day and slept. We did enjoy our private spa with wonderful views of the sea. After all this is a vacation and we should get some rest.
But if you know me, I can’t sit around all day. So we drove to Achilleon Palace. It was built for Empress Sissi of Austria. It is a lovely palace with some beautiful rooms on the ground floor, but not much furniture. But the worthwhile part of this palace is its gardens with two wonderful statues of Achilles. A must see if you are in Corfu. Plus the views of the sea are awesome.
This palace has quite the history. It was owned by Sissy and then Wilhenheim of Germany. Then it was a war hospital among other things. It is funny how in war symbols of monarchy are used.
We ended our day with dinner in Bernitses in a cute little restaurant by the sea. By the way today was our 21st wedding anniversary. Not a bad place to celebrate.
For our first full day Corfu we decided to walk around the old town to see what the Venetians, British and Greeks have each contributed to make this island so fascinating. We went on the walk by this website: http://www.allcorfu.com/we-corfiot-0410.html. It is a lovely walk that takes you through all the main sites in a couple hours. It is difficult to follow at times mainly because the streets are alleys can be confusing to follow and don’t follow any order. It starts through the beautiful outdoor market. All the fruits and vegetables, exotic looking fish and lots of candied kumquats are to be had. Then on to the New Fort with its iconic Lions of St. Mark guarding it. Because most of the fort was still closed the guards let us in for free. It is typical fort with strong walls and beautiful views, cells and narrow windows. It is a cool respite from the heat and the reward for climbing it is the amazing views. There is cute church and an active synagogue near the fort. From Spilia Square you pass through one of the city gates. It is weird concept for us in modern times but you can feel the security they brought to the inhabitants.
The Orthodox Cathedral is a beautiful example of an Orthodox Church. It has beautiful icons, lots of silver chandeliers and a relic- the forearm of Saint Theodora. Then we see one of the beautiful Venetian wells. It looks like something you’d see in a square in Venice. The buildings nearby were built during Venetian times and look beautiful.
Walking around the sea wall is exciting. Be sure to avoid all the crazy drivers. You walk past several museums that you can choose to visit if you’d like. I chose to just walk around the town. Finally you pass through an an arch beside the Palace of Saint Michael and George into the Liston. This is the British contribution to the island. The palace was the head of the government and the square where they hung youth for tea and played cricket. It is a very lovely area with lots of cafes and people. Finally we reach the Old Fort. It is much bigger than the old one but it looks newer too. It is because the. British used it extensively and added to it. The top seems to be so high but it is not too bad a climb. The view from the top is amazing. There is a light house on the very top and it is not hard to imagine that once upon a time it was needed. The walk meanders a bit through the park and a few streets but that is tax far as I could follow. It was a lovely morning and we got to see everything we wanted. We did find the Church of Saint Spyridon. This the main church on the island as it has the mummified remains of the island’s patron saint. The shops nearby were rather amusing. On one side they sold religious items and across they sold worldly items. Something for everyone.
All this walking gave us an appetite. We ate at Pane and Souvilaki. We had a green salad and a huge mixed grill for two (could have fed three easily) for a very good price. Highly recommended.
Then our adventure began. We picked up our rental car and had to find hotel. Driving in Greece takes a lot of courage. They make the Italians look like they are good drivers. The roads are uneven, the people don’t follow the rules and the GPS doesn’t always recognize the names you are entering (they can be spelled in so many different ways). But we made it.
We are staying at the Palms and Spas in Mesongi. It is a rather small place but so nice. We have a bedroom, living room/kitchen and bath. But it’s the terrace that makes this place special. We have our own private spa overlooking the sea and a wonderful daybed. Very romantic. One thing about the location is that the nearby taverna was rather expensive. I hate it when they nickel and dime us.
I was glad when we checked into the Siorra Vittoria Hotel in Corfutown. It is a cute small hotel in the center of town. They upgraded us to superior room, which was small but tastefully decorated in cream tones. We ate Corfiot specialties at a nearby restaurant. I ate Pasticia which is a pasta with veal in a spicy sauce and George ate Sofrito which is beef in a white sauce. Both dishes have the same spices as a base but they couldn’t tell me the name in English.
It is Easter week in Greece and Corfu is known for its celebrations. We saw a concert at a church featuring some wonderful classical music. It was broadcast to the nearby square. They also have a day in which they break pots and several processions. But bed was all I was looking for after traveling for so long.
I have to make a confession, I just went on my first trip with lots of long layovers. The first one was a 7 hour layover in Detroit. That was long but that airport was actually okay. We ate a nice lunch at the Mediterranean grill then walked a lot. It is a very long airport perfect for getting some exercise done. Then we sat and watched a movie thanks to the half hour free wi-if and then read. Overall it wasn’t a terrible experience. Our next layover was in Amsterdam. I liked that airport. It had lots of shopping, some stores had some good sales even. Then upstairs they had fake trees and birds and some really comfy chairs. Some of them were loungers that you could sleep. They also had bean bags and science activities for kids and some exercise equipment. How exciting it was to see that someone thought about the comfort of us poor people who travel coach. There is also a hotel which you can use overnight or even hourly but I don’t know the prices. Finally Athens was our last layover. It was the shortest only 2 hours but I had to get luggage (Yes I did check in this time due to all the layovers) and transfer to another airline and I knew that was going to take time. However check in was super quick and then you go into the terminal where all the shops are and you do the security right before the gate. Weird but it was quick.
Overall it wasn’t a bad experience. I think I slept more than I usually do because I took naps in each flight, rested in each airport and got to watch a whole season of Downton Abbey on my long flight. It beats running like an Olympic athlete from one terminal to the other so I don’t miss a flight because my first flight out off Ohare was delayed. That’s life in Chicago