Exploring Corfu Town
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Yesterday, I started my day off with lunch at Captian's. I had delicious, fluffy, slightly oily pita bread with eggplant salad, homemade tziaziki and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). I have no idea what they do to the pita bread here, but it’s beyond delicious. At home, it’s made of pretty flat, flavorless hard stuff that’s just cut in half. Here, it’s like a totally different product. Seriously, just a pile of that would make me happy.
While I ate, (at the family table, how cool is that?), the Captain heaved an astrology book at me. In it, I learned that I am a buffalo, and I read totally inaccurate statements describing my personality. (For example, I apparently hate to travel, have no friends and struggle to open up to others haha.)
After lunch, Atilla the Hun(garian) and I explored Corfu Town. We went on his motorbike, so the ride alone was fun. Our first stop was the Old Fort, where we somehow avoided the five euro entrance fee. There were excellent views from the top of the fort. If you turned one way, you looked out across the cruise ships to the ocean. In the other direction, there was a bird’s eye view of the old buildings and the famous Esplandade, where a game of cricket was going on.
Corfu Town is adorable. Thanks to some Italian control back in the day, the buildings are done in the Venetian style and there are lots of narrow shopping streets that crisscross each other. Souvenir shops sell kumquat candy and liquor, olive wood products and embroidered linens.
The highlight of the day came when we visited the St. Spyridon church and a priest opened the saint’s ornate silver coffin! That’s pretty rare. Four times a year, they parade it through the streets with the lid open, and the rest of the time it’s shut. I have no idea how we got so lucky.
The priest chanted as he opened the top and bottom portions of the coffin lid with a key (leaving the torso part closed). People formed a line, and I watched them to learn the protocol: Cross yourself, lean in and kiss something in the foot area, then kiss the middle of the coffin, then kiss something in the head area.
When it was my turn, I crossed myself, stepped up to the coffin and peered down at the saint’s beautiful slippers. They looked to be made of velvet, with curled up toes and embroidery. The priest misunderstood my admiring pause for confusion rather than admiration and pointed at the slippers. Guessing that the shoes served as a receptacle for not only the saint’s feet but also the saliva of hundreds of other people, I instead kissed the inch of air above his curly slipper toe and moved up to the head. Gasp! It was a brown mummy head with an open mouth, like he’d died shrieking. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it’s hard to put your face close to that. Another (respectful) air kiss.
Last night, Jon and I worked at Captain George’s. We’re filling in while his wife’s away. So far, I’ve only washed dishes, but it’s a new life experience. I’ve never worked in a restaurant before, so why not try it in a Greek taverna?
When I first came in, the restaurant was packed and Captain was running all over the place. He yelled at me, "Sit, I have nothing for you to do!" which I interpreted as, “I’m too busy to train you right now.” So, I tried to find useful things to do without making a pest of myself. By asking Captain’s daughter, Anna, and Christina, the cook, what was needed, I ended up rolling silverware bundles and appointed myself the official dishwasher for the evening.
Jon and I worked non-stop for a few hours. Towards the end of the evening, when things had slowed down, Captain came up, kissed me three times on alternating cheeks (European style) and said, “You are family now.” How cool is that? Once and for all, I’ve achieved the status of a local, and not just a tourist. Christina said she was so glad to have us, and I was content knowing I’d been really useful.
As the guests dwindled, Jon and I sat down to a delicious meal of chicken souvlaki (skewers) with that amazing pit bread, salad, tzatziki and french fries.