It was all Greek to us

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
Trip End Sep 06, 2013

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Flag of Greece  , Ionian Islands,
Thursday, September 1, 2011

When we planned to visit Europe, and tour whatever struck our fancies, we sorta developed a mental list. Funny thing is, there have been more visits to places we didn't even know about, than places we had planned to visit, since we got here.  Outside Italy, we figured most of our trips would be to the better known cities, either arranged with the USO, MWR, or maybe, just maybe, on our own.  It’s really pretty easy to let them do the planning, driving, and arranging.  Most often, all you have to do is show up and pick out your own meals.  Over Labor Day weekend we visited one of those spots we didn’t have on our list since we really didn’t know about it.  Through the USO, we went to the Greek island of Corfu on the Ionian Sea.  It was a resort island where the primary past time appeared to be tanning.  The amazing thing about Europe is the vast amount of castles and other royal dwellings that can be found around the countryside.  I guess if we want to tour these remote places, so do the former mighty and wealthy (gee did that sound like we’re in that category or better, others with disposable income, or using their children’s inheritances as well) built themselves a place to stay.  They certainly couldn’t occupy some of the residences of the locals, and there must not have been the equivalent of the 3-4-5 star hotels that we look out for. 

On Corfu, the Austrian Empress Elizabeth built herself a retreat in the late 1800’s.  She filled it with statues honoring the muses and Achilles.  The palace is called Achilleion in his honor.  Elizabeth is famous for her slight figure, apparently an early anorexic, and for being murdered by an anarchist who was just looking to make a name for himself.  The Kaiser bought the place next.  It was used as a hospital during WWI, a casino, as a Nazi headquarters during WWII, and a museum, but not those functions necessarily in  chronological order, as I listed them.  It is surprising to see the extent the Nazis went in order to hold and control every corner of Europe.  Although Randy reminded me, if we, and a good load of Brits, are interested in vacationing there, so would the Germans.  We could still see a couple of pill boxes on the roadway up the east coast of the island.  And Albania was almost within spitting distance at the top of the island.
We walked, and sweated, our way through Corfu town the first day.  We walked all over the old fort, Randy climbing up on some walls to get "that shot".  That’s one of those “you-are-not-in-the-US” moments.  It’s not just the spectacular view of the turquoise water.  It’s not just the cliffs and in the distance, nor the yachts framed by picturesque harbors.  It’s the “Randy-are-you kidding-me-really-going-to-climb-out there???? and know that no one is going to yell at you, “hey get off of there, it’s not safe.

 One evening Randy and I rented a vehicle and drove across the island to the west side to see a sunset.  It took us 30 minutes.  To go all the way across the island.  The views were spectacular, and we had a pleasant evening tasting local wine, beer and food.  As we sat in the dining room overlooking a small cove, the evening descended.  As small breezes flew across the water we could see the ripple run in all directions, almost like shadows under the water.  The shadows raced across the cove and then out to the deeper water.  It almost looked like a school of fish creating the shadows and darting either toward the wall of the cliff, or the open sea.  It’s hard to describe, but the view of it was mesmerizing.

The western side of island really reminded me of Nags Head, or Duck, NC.  The whole area had resort houses or hotels, focused on beach chairs, a boat ride or two, and lots of suntanned/sun burned people, with a small town tossed in here and there for a little shopping, or dining.  The eastern side contained more mature hotels, and guests. The weekend was very warm, which prompted us to dip our toes, and other body parts in the Ionian Sea. We knew some of the people on the trip from work, and along with Randy they noted that the “site-seeing” on the beach was not that rewarding since the crowd was a little more mature.  That translates to the topless weren’t lookers in their opinions.

The trip back to Italy started after midnight waiting for the ferry to return us to Brindisi over night.  As it was the end of August, the Italians were finishing up their long holidays, so the boat was very crowded.  The Italians mostly opted to not spend their vacation dwindled resources on a cabin to rest on the 7 hour-or-so ride back to Brindisi.  Instead, they were camped out on the floor everywhere.  And I mean camped out.  In the stairwell leading to our cabin, a family pitched a tent, blew up an air mattress, and rested in relative privacy.  Their tent was probably less crowded than our cabin.  We had several “guests” in our cabin.  The bathroom was swarming with fleas.  But since we arrived in the cabin around 3 AM, we just decided to crash rather than try to get other accommodations.  I had the reminder flea bites on my legs for the following week.  Just a reminder, that it’s still all about the adventure.
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Kashif on

Awesome pictures.

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