We have just spent an amazing eleven (11) days in Corfu Greece, so sit down with a ‘cuppa’, and enjoy reading about some of our trip as we share them with you.
Getting to Corfu Greece
Our first night saw us driving 35 km from the port (we had arrived by ferry from Albania – you can read about it here) to find somewhere to stay in Paleokastritsa. This is a lovely bay, and the town goes for about 2 km prior to this filled with nice restaurants too. It is clear across the island from the port if you drew a line coast to coast.
The place to visit here is the Paleokastritsa Monastery of the Virgin Mary, perched high on a hill and accessible through the end of town.
Once you get to the car park, wait at the lights, then drive and park up (FREE). The walk is steep and no fun in the rain, so we appreciated having wheels.
So, we head up, park up, walk up, and I dress up. Women require their knees, shoulders and preferably their heads covered as a sign of respect.
I think I was told seven monks live here at this monastery. Also if you visit, it is closed from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
It is completely free, but in order to fund themselves, they sell olive oil products and have a small religious shop, and of course, they receive donations.
I think they should sell their potted plants, as I know many visitors would by a small pot to take back if they drove here and lived in Europe. Or even selling the seeds would be great too as I really loved their garden.
It’s nice to leave a donation if you use their ‘pull-on skirts’ or a head/shoulder hanky style scarf, like the ones I am wearing here, and the quiet man is very helpful and respectful as he offers them to you.
The garden is gorgeous and it is filled with local plants. In particular, there is oregano and basil growing, and the lovely monk spoke some English and gave me some to grow as a gift. So now we have a variety of herbs and other plants in three pots in the car with us. As we plant to stop and house-sit towards Christmas time, we will have our own little-potted garden. And it is all reminders of places we have been.
The monastery has cats. Yes, loads and loads of cats! Here this kitty slept the whole hour we were there, and he was well photographed by many too. Considering the monastery was built in 1228, I can see cats having a long line preceding them – all living a carefree and contented life.
Another place to visit in the area is Angelocastro – Castle Michelangelo. It is a Byzantine 13th Century fort style. The day we drove there to hike up it, Explorason was car sick, so all we did was sit at the cafe below.
Being the most green of the Greek Islands, Corfu has three million olive trees which are protected too, as they are a certain type unique to this island. Corfu is also a flower-strewn countryside with Adriatic-style villages.
This is a rough and small path that goes between thistle and holly bushes, as well as past cactus and other plants. I think sailing to this location might be easier than walking to it! To walk, you need sneakers or good footwear, not flip-flops or crocs like we wore, but we were unprepared for the fact it was a hike.
Also, it is hard to find these twin beaches, so get a good map. Even once you get to the town nearby, you need to walk, and it is poorly (or not) signposted.
However, the reward at the end was a fabulous chocolate milkshake back at the top. There is a Taverna with a magical view over the coast, and although it was ‘snail-paced’ service considering there were all of six customers at the time, it was OK as we needed to ‘recharge our batteries’ afar the hike.
The Greek Blue Eye
Another definite ‘must’ do, is to go on a boat trip from Paleokastritsa. It is around Ten Euro per person and you go to quite a few places. We, however, negotiated (of course!)
We had heard about the ‘Blue Eye’. This is a small cave only accessible by sea. In the morning the water is bright blue as the sun shines through a hole in the wall on the seaside. In the afternoon it is dark blue, as we saw this day.
So the next time someone talks about ‘the Greek Blue Eye’, this is the real one, and the legend behind where the blue eye of Greece comes from possibly?
The colors in the grotto/caves are fabulous. Pink coral below in one cave. Purple seaweed decorates another on its walls. This colors the water so beautifully!
And here too is one of the top ten beaches in the world! Voted number eight is Paradise Beach, and it is only accessible by boat. It has incredible walls around it, and the bluest of blue water.
So here in the photo below are a few of the places you can visit as part of a boat trip, or a complete combo trip. It also depends on whether you have a few of you and hire a boat privately, or if you go to the little jetty and wait for eleven people to fill a boat and then you combine what you all want to do.
If we had more time I think we would opt to try sailing Corfu. With waters that are so clear and blue, it would just be fabulous to book a catamaran for a week. We have heard you can book them with a crew for travelers like us that have little sailing experience, but then those that know how to sail can book them and sail themselves. I know that the waters of Corfu were just so enticing and relaxing that we would have loved a few relaxing days sailing Corfu.
Once we had finished our week at Delfino Blue Boutique Hotel we did a 3-day road trip around Corfu.
One day we went up the highest mountain on Corfu. Mount Pantokrator – here you can see the Albanian coastline clearly. We could even see the town where we had stayed. Check out the cute taverna on the way too.
There are some atrocious telecommunication towers on one side, and on the other is a lovely old monastery that was rebuilt in the 1600’s. Alas, someone added a communications metal tower right in the middle of the yard. It is awful and should be moved to the other hill. It ruins the tranquility of this site.
There is a cafe there, and dare you to drive there, make sure you have a good handbrake, and a gutsy motor, as it is a steep, steep climb. Anyone on a scooter is a fool to even try to get up that hill!
We also toured around Corfu, heading down the east coast and across to the west coast.
Palace – Old Corfu Town
There is also the Palace in Old Corfu town, but we only drove by as it was bucketing down with rain.
Greeks are strong in their faith in God but also in some superstition, which can be a strange mix. There is a myriad of Greek Churches to visit and are very well cared for, like this one in Old Corfu town. It is right by the car park too.
Head into Old Corfu Town and you will see the Old Fort. I believe it is better than the New Fort, but again bad weather forbade us a visit inside.
One day we went to the Achillion Palace.
Probably the most famous Corfu palace. It is important not only for the building itself but also for the Greek families and movies. Here is a bit of history we googled and found. Only because they ran out of pamphlets in English. This caused us to wander around without any knowledge of who lived here, or its history until after our visit.
It is a beautiful environment with gardens that surround it, belonged to Empress Elizabeth or ‘Sissy’ of Austria. After her death in 1908, it was bought by Wilhelm II, the German Kaiser. So we found it full of German tourists – naturally!
The grand staircase has a balustrade that is brass ornate figurines that are all different.
Having studied ancient Greek literature, especially Homer, Sissy decorated the palace with paintings and statues referring to Greek mythology. You can see some here in the courtyard, but part of the garden was closed for repairs on the day we went.
Visitors to the palace walk around the first of the three stores of the building, constructed in 1889 by Rafael Corito and Antonio Lanti. At the backyard stands the magnificent statue of Achilles-to whom the palace is dedicated-showing the hero dying; the hero’s pain reflects the sensitivity of the “melancholy queen”. We couldn’t get here due to the repairs.
The top floor was also once a casino, so it has quite a checkered past.
Kaiser originally constructed the colossal statue of the Triumphant Achilles, a sign of his power. The palace now belongs to the Greek State and is open to the public as a museum. This is a good place to venture on a rainy day.
Stop At The Café
As you walk out of the gate, turn to the left and there is a magnificent café worth stopping at. Make sure you get an edge table to enjoy the view.
Head back to the complimentary parking area (if you managed to find one) and there is also FREE tasting in the Boutique liqueur store. Make sure you try the coffee one if you go – yummo!
And to finish off my time in Corfu, I had a Fish Spa. Both hands and feet – awesome. You can read about it here.
Once my feet and hands were massaged by some sucking fish, we still found we had an hour or so to spare before leaving the island, and so we ventured out in the rain to play tourist.
I toyed with the idea of buying Greek Slippers made of felt. But Explorason said I looked like a clown. But I tell you, they felt nice after the Fish Spa, and were so soft and warm. We have more of Greece to go, so I may try to find a ‘pom-pomless’ pair.
Then you have the souvenir statues. You can get brass, copper, metal, marble, plastic and all sorts of Greek Statues. Gods, Chariots, Mythology and more. We declined on all of them.
Instead, Explorason found two Lego mini figures, and I found an embossed tea-towel. It is bright blue with a red trim and round in shape (later I wish I had bought three – the best tea towel ever!)
So farewell to Corfu. I first visited you when I was 21 years old – over 30 years ago. A lot has changed – I slept in a thatched hut on the beach back then, parting the walls to look outside to view the weather. A lot has gone – many old businesses have closed their doors, and buildings lay empty with the economic crisis. Greece may struggle right now financially, but the people there in Corfu I found to be warm, friendly and happy.
We say goodbye to Corfu that afternoon on the ferry to the mainland. There is a half price ferry at 3:30 p.m.on this day. Worth asking if you need the ferry for the specials. (What we saved us was the equivalent of what we paid that night for an apartment rental.)
I do hope to return again To Corfu – it was just the right amount of time for us here.
Time to move on and explore more of Greece.
Questions and Comments
- Do you find Greece fascinating?
- Have you been to Corfu, Greece?
- How was the experience?
- Do share your comments with us below.