30 June 2012

An evening out in Corfu Town.

We spent Thursday evening wandering in Corfu town. The highlight of the visit was a Baroque music concert given by students at the Music School of the Ionian University. The setting was magical, in the old flour storehouses located within the Old Fortress. A building I had never noticed before, let alone entered, it is long and low with a vaulted stone ceiling, and as the sunlight faded to be replaced by mood lighting, the atmosphere was beyond compare.

Leaving the fortress and heading across the park towards the Liston it was impossible to match the evidence of our eyes with the picture painted by the world press of a Greece in desperate times. Warm, with a slight breeze, the weather had enticed whole families outside with prams, children on bikes, elderly couples, and hoards of teens and twenties wanting to see and be seen. Cafes and bars were full to the brim, tavernas and restaurants likewise, and shops with their doors still open well after 10 p.m. didn't seem to be as empty as the rumours have it.

With no fixed idea if we would stop to eat, or just stroll, we eventually found ourselves sitting in a narrow alleyway just off Kapodistriou Street. Tables were laid on both sides of the alley, and any passersby had to squeeze past in single file. We ate an excellent pizza and a glamorous salad at "To Mike" - to be recommended! Corfu in a nutshell - perfect.

23 June 2012

Still Corfu's best kept secret - Nothing has changed since I last blogged this topic in 2008!

Still Corfu's best kept secret - Nothing has changed since I last blogged this topic in 2008!

Anyone who lives or has friends who live in Corfu will know that we have been experiencing particularly hot weather for the time of year. The sort of weather that makes the simplest of tasks seem like an uphill struggle and make those of us who work wish we could spend the day by the sea or nearest pool.

Shopping becomes a statistical nightmare - the usual trawl from supermarket to supermarket has to be re-configured because it is necessary to buy the milk/butter/cream at the last port of call and not the first.

When it comes to parking at the supermarket - well, this is whole new story! First of all most supermarkets simply don't have enough parking spaces (why were they given licences in the first place, one wonders?) secondly Greek drivers would prefer - judging by their choice of parking space right outside the door - to be able to drive into the supermarket and do a drive-by shop, and thirdly in the one and only supermarket with enough parking for a football game - NO-ONE USES IT! (the photo, by the way, was taken on Saturday at prime shopping time just as in the previous, 2008, blog).

19 June 2012

Have you seen this?

"Greece appeals for volunteer holidaymakers to help regenerate tourism

Greece is calling on the help of volunteer holidaymakers and the goodwill of operators, hoteliers and airlines to "set the record straight" after suffering months of bad publicity.

The tourist office and major Greek enterprises have developed an online interactive platform - TrueGreece.org - for visitors to share their travel experiences in an attempt to counter concerns about the country's economic difficulties and political unrest.

Tour operators, airlines and hoteliers are being asked to give away freebies to fund trips for holidaymakers who will then be asked to write, blog and tweet about their experience.

Tourist chiefs are now on the hunt for goodwill social-media savvy volunteers, known as True Greece's True Supporters, who will work from home, for free, to spread the "good Greek word" about what it means to experience the real Greece.

This team of volunteers will be expected to "share the truth about Greece by responding to inaccuracies or speculations they may come across".

Sunvil managing director Noel Josephides said he was approached by tourist chiefs at the end of last week and has agreed to give away around 20 seats for the cause.

"We've got to help regenerate Greek tourism. We're linked with Greece and our fortunes are tied," he said.

Geared to both consumers and the trade, the website will provide travel-related content including interviews with opinion leaders in the travel industry, tourists' testimonials, videos, photos, tips and informative articles on what's happening in Greece.

The launch comes as Greece narrowly voted to support the country's mainstream conservative party, New Democracy, giving it a chance to forge a pro-euro and pro-bailout coalition.

World leaders welcomed the result and urged Athens to quickly form a new government.

The crucial vote was watched around the world amid fears that if Greece left the euro it would deepen the global economy turmoil.

Josephides said he was pleased about the result, which would buy Greece more time.

"It's what we always expected," he said. "It means we're less likely to have any problems over the summer. The Greeks will all be going on holiday in a few weeks time anyway, so there won't be any demonstrations over the summer."

by Bev Fearis


16 June 2012

Summer in Corfu - don't you all wish you were here?

I do not apologise, I have stolen this from Grandma Angela's blog (although blog seems a very minor word for such a wonderful atmospheric article).

Her article encapsulates all that is wonderful about Corfu, in this time when all we hear is about problems, and see headlines like today's London Evening Standard 'Greeks believe that no one can save them now' although they go straight to the heart of the issue when they say 'Even though prices are cut to the bone and tourist havens are trouble free, international press coverage is keeping away millions of holidaymakers'.

The funny thing is that today, thousands of tourists are enjoying the Corfu we all know, exactly as related in Angela's piece, and all the problems seem virtually to be happening on another planet. The tourists I speak to here can't understand why it's so quiet, and can't understand why people are worried about coming here. They laugh about the quotes about empty cash machines (hasn't that always been an occasional problem?), businesses not accepting credit cards (did they ever?), potential strikes (strikes are everywhere aren't they, aren't buses and doctors on strike in London next week?), and overall just occupy themselves appreciating the beaches, peaceful tavernas and gorgeous scenery - and of course, planning their next trip.

I could tell you where Angela's secret beach is, but it doesn't really matter, there are lots just like it in Corfu, and everyone finds their own special favourite. Let's hope for a reasonable election result and the chance to move on and make the most of what we have in Greece for the future.

8 June 2012

Houses in the South of Corfu

Still in the south, for those with more to spend, how about this stunning villa? A country estate type property in large grounds, with lovely views to the west coast. This property needs some updating, but it is easy to imagine a celebrity in residence enjoying the isolation and privacy it provides.

Houses in South Corfu

For anyone wanting to live in the unspoiled south of Corfu, it might be of interest that one of our bargain properties is located within walking distance of the salt pans and the town of Lefkimmi.

Lotsia House is a lovely little cottage just in need of some tender loving care. Sitting in its own fenced gardens with an established garden it is waiting for a new owner to appreciate its charms!

One of the big advantages of the south of the island is the close proximity of the two coast lines. West to east can practically be walked, and this means that the long sandy beaches and dunes on the west can be enjoyed in the first part of the day and the east coast coves and shingly shores later on without travelling far.

6 June 2012

Salt flats at Lefkimmi, Corfu

Stilts at the salt flats - a romantic Corfu unknown to most holidaymakers. It really is like taking a walk back in time when you visit this remote part of the south east coast of Corfu.

There are signs of the previous flourishing salt industry in the form of abandoned, rusting machinery - buckets, scoops and wheeled carts. Having just visited the Edward Lear exhibition in the Palace of St. Michael and St. George, and having seen his sketches of this same area, it was as if we were seeing Corfu through his eyes, and here, at least, there were no modern intrusions - just the water, flat and still as a lake, and a background of sky and distant mountains.

Journey to the South of Corfu

Almost an hour and a half from our mountainside house, the remote south of the island is somewhere that we really do not often visit. For work it is a different matter and we make the journey south several times a month to look at new houses, take photographs, and show clients the properties of their choice. Yesterday evening, however, partly in honour of the full moon, but mostly following the insistence of a great friend, we set off at about 6.30 p.m. to drive south in search of - Flamingos!

We had been told several weeks ago that there were flamingos in the salt flats at Alykes, Lefkimmi and had vaguely planned to go down to take a look, and then at the weekend our friend phoned and said "Have you been yet?" so we abandoned the ironing, dusting and website updating (me) and the watering, strimming and linguistics research (husband) and set off south.

It is a long way, and the road is bumpy - especially on the southbound side of the coastal stretch from Perama to Moraitika - it's obviously been dug up numerous times for underground pipes to be laid. Eventually, moving inland, the road becomes worthy of it's rather grand name "National Road to Lefkimmi" and there was hardly any traffic as we sped ever further south.

The salt flats - now abandoned - have obviously become home to several species of bird and as we wandered along a narrow strip of muddy sand we had to negotiate a path through little nests of eggs just lying on the ground with no protection at all. In the water and above us in the sky were numerous Stilts calling a warning so we presume that the eggs belonged to them. Just as we were beginning to think that the flamingos had moved elsewhere, and just as the sand was beginning to feel a little too soft and muddy to walk on safely, there in front of us we saw them. There must have been about 10, and I had to use the zoom lens on the camera to take photos, but it was a wonderful sight and totally justified the long drive.

On the way homeward, with perfect timing and a load of luck, we drove through Benitses just as the huge full moon was rising above the mainland mountains across the sea. A perfect end to our journey south.

3 June 2012

Purple Fingers

If you see Susan and I disappearing into a tree in the next few weeks, the chances are we will be picking mulberries. The fruit is just about ripe now, really delicious and juicy and well worth the resulting stained fingers. We love them!