31 May 2010

Bollard Billionaire?

Anyone who has been in the centre of Corfu town in the last few weeks will have noticed the new bicycle lanes that are being installed at the side of many (but not all) roads. There are three obvious issues: a) further congestion of an already crowded town centre - the lanes take up more than a third of the width of some roads, b) safety - does anyone really think that these lanes will be kept exclusively for push bikes (this is Greece!) and c) there are now far fewer parking places since the bike lanes use roadside areas previously used for municipal (paid) parking.

Considering the number of bollards that have already been installed over the past 12 months - at the sides of roads to prevent parking, to create mini roundabouts, to divide roads into lanes, to utterly confuse (this latter surely not intentional, but you never know), I had been wondering if the Mayor of Corfu had got hold of a job-lot of bollards at a knock down price. In the context of the general atmosphere of financial scandals and the almost daily naming-and-shaming of government officials, I now have a new theory. Someone in the local council must have a relative or friend who owns a bollard factory!

Note that the photo shows two of the bollard types being installed - there are several more!

22 May 2010

Not all bargains are at the lower end of the market

Take the lovely Villa Karakousi in the hills above Kassiopi. The offspring of the original owner simply do not use the property enough to justify hanging on to it, so have decided to reduce the price - by 30%! - in order to encourage a sale this summer. Either as a sheer indulgence gift to yourself, or as a shrewd buy-to-let investment, Karakousi comes well recommended by all of us at Corfuhomefinders. Come and see for yourselves!

17 May 2010

Amazing opportunities for renovated village houses

We might be estate agents, but the usual aim of this blog is a more general look at life in Corfu as it affects us living and working here.

However, knowing how many of our clients are looking for village houses which are already renovated, I couldn't resist putting on these properties, which have all been substantially reduced in the last few days. They are all over the island, in villages which vary from tiny hamlets to busy 'all year round' villages.

A pretty, traditional village house, imaginatively renovated, in a convenient 'edge of village' situation close to west coast beaches.
Reduced from 110,000 to 50,000 euros.

Fantastic amount of living space (including the largest bathroom ever seen in a village house!) at a really low price. Great village, with shops, restaurant, coffee shops, a swimming pool, and only a short drive to the beach.
Reduced from 75,000 to 55,000 euros.

This house is in Gardelades, a really pretty village within easy reach of all amenities and only a few minutes from Liapades Beach and Paleokastritsa.
Reduced from 150,000 to 70,000 euros.

One of our favourite small homes. Beautifully renovated, garden, parking - ideal bolthole for a couple.
Now 79,000 euros.

Sympathetically restored stone barn in a traditional hill village in the north of Corfu. Only 3km from the sandy beaches of north Corfu.
Reduced from 160,000 to 75,000 euros.

This lovely, newly renovated house with garden and guest studio, is the type of home that everyone hopes they are going to find when they are looking for the ideal house in a traditional village. Reduced from 160,000 to 80,000 euros.

Price reductions don't come much greater than these!

13 May 2010

Nesting goose

This goose has made a nest in what she obviously thinks is a private spot. Surrounded by a hollow olive tree on three sides so that she has seclusion from the others in her flock, she is on full show to the road and looks very surprised when I drive up the lane.

Now we are awaiting the happy arrival of the goslings!

10 May 2010

How many people can find this sort of setting for lunch on a working day?

Don't really need any text with this one do I? But just in case you want to try it for yourselves, the little taverna/café is located in Kanoni next to the causeway, the little church of Vlaherena and Mouse Island.

9 May 2010

Politics over breakfast

Saturday morning and a bit of extra time for dawdling over tea and toast led to a discussion about the financial situation in Greece, and I think we came up with a brilliant idea. No one is happy with the present situation where the working man is being taxed and fined in an attempt to fill the empty government coffers, but I am sure that the burden would be more lightly borne if we felt that those who were really responsible for the mess were also paying their share. So, here is the idea...

How about if every politician, minister, financial adviser, etc. who has been involved in "governing" Greece in the last thirty years be taxed on the income earned over this period? It could be on a sliding scale depending on the level of responsibility, with the prime ministers paying the most, finance ministers next and so on down to the local members of parliament. The amounts to be paid should be large enough to discourage the 'gravy train' mentality and guarantee that politicians from now on are dedicated and honest. The tax would be payable in installments, and should bring in considerably more than the present measures that penalize the innocent.

The system is a tried and tested one in Greece. Similar retrospective taxes have been imposed on businesses and probably will be again. No remorse was shown in these cases by a government that presumed everyone to be guilty of tax evasion whether or not they were. Let the politicians have a taste of their own medicine and the rest of us would feel better about the sacrifices we have to make.

8 May 2010

Out and about in Corfu Town

The first week of the proper summer season has been blessed with bright sunshine and high temperatures. It is the time of year when tourists stand out a mile by being the only ones wearing shorts and tee-shirts, locals being far too wary of "revma" (the dreaded draughts which can apparently cause all manor of ills) to bare their arms and legs this early in the year!

I had a list of bureaucratic jobs to do which took me into Corfu Town on Thursday morning, and a gap between appointments left me time to window shop - a rare treat. I found myself unable to resist going in to the little shop in the photo. Partly it was the enticing window display, but also the lovely scents drifting out into the street from the open door. Gaia has three shops in Corfu Town, all selling a selection of Greek products ranging from wines, through herbs, spices and herbal teas to scented candles, pot pourri oils, and lotions and potions for skin and hair.

A great source of gifts for friends - and yourself.

6 May 2010

Riots in Athens

I have tried not to write on the blog about the recent financial troubles in Greece - somehow it doesn't seem right to make comments on such serious issues which cannot be criticized, corrected, or answered by anyone. However, today's news of three deaths in Athens as the result of rioting and a fire at a central bank has made me change my mind.

We are all suffering the effects of increased prices in supermarkets and petrol stations, and some of us are facing these higher costs at the same time as having our yearly income reduced by as much as 30%. I fear that there will be more public outcry, and more strikes and demonstrations, but I think it is extremely important to point out that today's rioters are not Mr. and Mrs. Average protester, they are the hard-line anarchists who turn out at the slightest provocation to create chaos. I sincerely hope that the police will catch the people responsible as soon as possible. It certainly doesn't help the already difficult situation to have violence as well.

5 May 2010

Crisis what crisis? Mayday in Corfu

Having just seen the news of the confirmation of financial aid to Greece, alongside video of the protests in Athens on May 1st, I was very pleased to see the Sky reporter Alex Rossis putting things into perspective, by saying that 1st May is traditionally a workers demonstration day worldwide, and that indeed there were demonstration in many countries, not just Greece. Also that street protest has always been a reaction in Greece to unpopular news, even if it is not the case in most European countries. He did also say that petrol bombs were 'quite normal', which I found a bit of an exaggeration, but never mind, it was a calm voice rather than most news coverage which has veered more to the 'Greece in flames' type of reporting.

On a more optimistic note, Helga and I went out yesterday to do a round of some of the south Corfu properties, take photographs, meet a window manufacturer at one of the new villa developments by the sea in Boukari (details and photos coming soon) and generally catch up on what is currently on the market.

Doing this we drove up and down both east and west coasts and saw, with a certain amount of amazement that all the beachfront restaurants were open on both coasts, and ALL of them were totally mobbed, with people waiting for tables. Yes, it was a beautiful day, the first of May, and the beginning of the season, so perhaps the last chance for many people in the tourism industry to go out with their families. It was wonderful to see everyone out enjoying themselves, in direct contrast to the gloomy news everywhere else.

In fact, I was so surprised I forgot to take a photo!

Greece and its finances again

Well, the trials and tribulations of Greece and its finances continue. As I type this the Government have just confirmed the availability of funds to service the massive dept (totally the fault of the previous government of course and nothing to do with the governments prior to that, which of course was the government currently installed!) and that more 'great sacrifices' (Prime Minister's quote) will be required.

As yet these have not been specified, but are likely to be higher VAT, later retirement (from what jobs I wonder, since unemployment is likely to increase?), higher taxes generally, and so on.

There is no doubt there will be very difficult times ahead, but hopefully now some government departments can now stop concentrating on disaster limitation and begin to focus on expanding the economy; with perhaps more open borders to non-EU tourists, fewer restrictions on non-EU property buyers, incentives for the expansion of the tourist industry which has been under-capitalised for so many years - all logical and easily done but seemingly so hard for the government to comprehend, since it always seems to be so 'inward looking'. Still, we live in hope.