Our first morning on Corfu, like all of the others, dawned welcomingly sunny and warm. We dressed and presented for breakfast in the wisteria-shaded garden of the hotel.
A superb (so Tony reports) omelette; and local ham, cheese, and olives for me, plus sliced fig “cakes” that melted in our mouths. And let’s not overlook the civilized French press coffee.
After breakfast our sightseeing began with a bang. Literally. An insipid undergrad from Seattle (who had undoubtedly convinced Daddy that a semester on Corfu to study “Ancient Greek Guys” was important to her academic career (judging by the specimen in the passenger seat)) ran the intersection as we were pulling away from the hotel and hit our rental car at speed. The first of several YaiYais on this holiday (Greek Grandmothers) had been hanging laundry in a flat nearby while this event unfolded, and so took time from her daily routine to watch the entire event, perhaps clucking silently on the co-habitation of the coed and the Greek dude.
So, we lost an hour traveling back to the airport for accident photos, paperwork, and so forth (the Greek god had to manage it all; the coed spoke not a word of Greek. Her parents must be so proud.) Of course we had full damage coverage on the car, so this is just an amusing anecdote to our holiday.
As we quickly discovered, though, ’twas a tough hour to have lost. (Even the hotel Concierge suggested we plan an early start because of the tour buses, and we were soon to understand the ominous advice.) The plan for our first day had been to visit the island’s most beautiful monastery, Palaiokastritsas, and to visit the smaller villages in the mountainous Northeast near the monastery. Heh.
This is the driving map for the island. The Corfiots refer to the red and yellow paths as “roads.” They are not roads; they are occasionally paved donkey trails traversed by rental cars and cruise-ship-day-tripper-tour-buses. That we managed to avoid death-to-all around hairpin turns and cliffside paths-without-guardrails was only by some inexplicable force. (No, we did not visit Aqua Land.)
We braved the winding mountain road to Palaiokastritsa to see the monastery.
Bell towers on Corfu are standalone, and rather striking works of architecture in their own way.
Kitties are a part of Corfiot culture. They are everywhere, and every cat we saw seemed to be (very) well cared for.
Bougainvillea to greet us as we entered the church.
Another YaiYai closely monitoring those who entered for appropriate dress. Terrible photo, I know. But you get the idea.
Views from the terrace of the monastery provided the serenity we would need to make it through the day. Or at least down from the mountain.
And, THEN. THE SCOURGE OF OUR HOLIDAY. We and many others had to wait, and wait, and wait, until the day trippers from the cruise ships exited the bus(es) so that we ourselves could exit the monastery parking lot. Sigh.
The harrowing drive down from the mountain, with tour busses careening toward us around each turn, did us in. We parked at the closest village near the beach, and ordered lunch. And this is where we stayed for the remainder of the day, wondering if we had made a mistake in visiting Corfu.
Tony is shouting, “I thought you said the water was warm!”
Looking back from our beach loungers.
Hunger compelled us to return to Corfu Town, though we did have a bit of traffic on our return.
Lunch and a beach nap improved our spirits immensely, which went a long way in helping us navigate out of a dead-end donkey trail “road” that our GPS had directed us onto when returning to Corfu Town. Of course, a YaiYai had been waiting on the road for visiting family, and was entertained while watching Tony manually shift the Peugeot in reverse out of a lane designed for a Boy Scout Pinewood Derby racer.
Corfu Town and its real roads never looked so glorious as it did on that evening. We left the car with the hotel valet and wandered about until hunger overcame us.
Aaah. An elderly Greek fisherman called to us from his restaurant, and we answered his siren song by sitting for dinner. Sublime Peloponnese cheese, olives, and an entire liter of Greek house wine to start our meal.
One of the happy, happy Corfiot doggies stretching along the lane by our restaurant.
An exquisitely grilled Dorade (the best of the Sea Bream family) for me. I do not recall what Tony enjoyed, as I was so savoring my supper. Something from the sea, I am sure.
Not the best of starts to our Grecian getaway, we had to admit. But, with three days remaining, there was still hope.