30 July 2011

There's unusual, and there's very unusual

Showing one of our more remote properties to some clients last week instigated a conversation about the differences between being an estate agent in Corfu and in the UK.

We parked our car on the side of the road, and prepared to set off across the olive grove and terraced land. "Preparation" in this context involved putting on wellington boots (temperature in the shade was in the region of 32C), and arming ourselves with bottles of cold water.

Ten minutes later as we climbed up a stone wall, and pushed past some particularly prickly plants, our clients asked us if this was the best example of unusual properties that we show in the course of our working day.

We had to admit that it was certainly the most hard to get to but not actually the most unusual. That honour has to go to a recently restored village house that we were shown by a colleague from another agency. It is a small property, basically one up and one down, whose owner is keen to sell in a hurry. Having seen it we can understand why - there is no toilet! The other agent had actually not noticed this lack of a fairly basic facility, but considering that there is no garden either and that anyone living in the house would have to scoot across the lane and hide behind the neighbour's wall ....... need I say more? I think not.

23 July 2011

New look website

After months of work, we have finally got our new website online. Actually I should probably qualify that somewhat - the new Corfuhomefinders website is up and running, with the aim of giving a better service, clearer photos etc. However, due to unforeseen circumstances we had to change over to the new site at rather short notice, hence please bear with us if there are a few glitches. In fact if anyone finds glaring errors please do let us know - we keep checking and rechecking but with so many properties on the site there are definitely going to be gaps and mistakes. Fingers crossed that, when all the teething problems are sorted out, it will prove to be clearer, faster and generally better than the previous version.

Greece - or not Greece?


18 July 2011

Seriously good value

One of our favourite houses has just been reduced in price. Recently featured in the July issue of Dove (an Italian travel magazine) this house has one of those sumptuous Corfu views that are so common from the village of Evropouli - just a few kilometres from Corfu town and Gouvia Marina. Named The Captain's House because the first time we visited there were sea charts spread out on the coffee table, we really really like this simple, stylish house.

4 July 2011

Another sort of Panigiri

The monastery just below our house marked its annual "name-day" with a low-key but very moving celebration starting on Friday evening and going on all day Saturday. In the morning of Saturday there was a church service attended by most of our village, young and old alike. Apart from the three monks who reside in the monastery, there were so many visiting priests in the sanctum (iero) that at one point we couldn't help remembering that old joke about how many Italians fit in a Cinquecento, or was it Frenchmen in a 2CV?

This year there was an additional prayer of thanks for the new roof only just finished in time last week, and a note of surrealism was provided by the teenager in front of us whose T-shirted back bore the legend DE PUTE MADRE KILLER - but at least he was in church!

A huge feast was served in the pergola covered courtyard - with at least 65 people enjoying pasta, chicken, tsatsiki and plenty of wine. One long table was peopled entirely with monks and priests, who punctuated the meal with frequent songs in praise of the young monk in charge (who, quite incidentally, was in our son Alexander's class at school here in the village).

Later on, in the evening, a further church service was held when the local brass band accompanied the main icon around the church and courtyard.

3 July 2011

Village life

Yes, life is going on as normal here in Corfu despite the gloomy news and negative reports in the national press. On Saturday evening we were expecting some Serbian guests to arrive for our villa. Travelling by car, I had given them very clear directions but had forgotten the fact that one of the villages they had to drive through was having a fiesta that evening and the chances were that they would get caught up in it. We went to meet them on the motorbike, explained that there would be crowds of people up ahead and then negotiated our way through in a convoy. They were very impressed by the local display of celebration and no sooner had they dropped their suitcases, than they turned around and went back to join in the festivities.

We were talking about the British equivalent of a village "panagiri" and could only come up with a village or church fete. I wonder if we held a fete in the evening with cheap alcohol and live music if there would be quite the same atmosphere as our village "panagiri"? Somehow I can't imagine British teenagers getting up and dancing with Grannies and Grandads!

2 July 2011

Safe as houses (no pun intended)

God bless the international press! For the last week I have been inundated by enquiries from clients who have booked holidays in our villas, with 'Is it safe to come to Corfu?'. I end up sending a reply along the lines of 'There were riots in Belfast last week, if I had booked a holiday in Cornwall, should I worry?'.

Yes, Greece has dire financial problems, and yes, we have had some power cuts (although the power company very kindly posted times/areas of cuts on their website which was helpful) and yes, the public servants have been on strike (hard to notice the difference there in some cases) but the bulk of Greece, and certainly the areas with tourism, have carried on as normal.

I had some Russian clients who were caught in the short airport closures the other day, and whilst their own travel agent in their own country and their airline were TOTALLY unhelpful, Aegean Airlines who were only operating one of the five flights they were using, spent considerable time changing and rebooking all their reservations and made a point of asking them which were the most convenient times for them as they had a young child.

I think the fact is that we are all conscious that the idiots causing the violence in Athens are damaging the rest of Greece beyond belief. Everyone who is concerned about how the country is portrayed to the rest of the world is trying very hard to redress the balance and make people realise that 99% of Greece and Greeks are continuing to live and work as they always have, with humour (albeit black humour at the moment) and a welcome for visitors to their beautiful country.

Good news for pet owners

Nice to see that the UK government is finally catching up with technology, and from January is dropping the need for a blood test for pets and also lessening the waiting time to 21 days. It will help people who want to adopt some of Corfu's stray animal population but who have been deterred in the past by long waiting times.