Since we were smaller numbers, four adults and three children, we decided to rent a car. As soon as we disembarked off of the cruise ship, we were met by a hoard of Greek taxi drivers telling us that they would drive us around Corfu for €100,00. Two taxi drivers competed for our business by telling us they would take us to see the sights. Between demanding us to employee their services for the day, they would get into shouting matches between each other that we were their fare and for the other one to leave. We kept pointing at the six-seater Mercedes taxi saying we wouldn't fit, and they would say, "It's no problem." To which we would reply, "Um, it is a problem. No one wants to ride in the trunk." And then we heard back, "No problem." I think this was the extent of their grasp of the English language.
We spotted a car rental shop around the corner with a few Fiat vans parked outside. Matt ran over to see if we could rent one for the day. While he was running over, the taxi drivers still hadn't given up hope. "One hundred Euro. I take you. You come. Now." Mr. Point answered that no, we weren't going to get a taxi, that we were going to rent a van. "NO! No van!" The taxi man yelled at us. We were a little taken aback. Did he mean there were no vans, or we couldn't rent a van? While I sat there thinking about that Mr. Point said, "What do you mean there are no vans? I can see one right there!" Taxi man came back with, "No van! I take you!" He was getting a little intense, to say the least. I started thinking in my head that he was going to kidnap us and hide us somewhere on the island or something when Matt yelled that he got us a Fiat Van for only €60,00. Sold. Good-bye Greek kidnapper/taxi driver. We got us a van.
We booked out of the port, for obvious reasons, as quickly as we could and drove here, to Palaiokastritsa. This is a little town/beach on the north-east side of the island. Look at that water. I had never seen water so clear, or turquoise-aqua colored.
I kept saying to myself, "This is real. I am really here. In Greece. On this beach." Greece has always been a fantasy to me. Years ago, Matt asked me what my three top ultimate vacations were and I answered 1- Greece, 2- India, and 3- anywhere in Africa. I answered these places because the chances of me visiting them seemed so remote that it probably would never happen. Well my friends, check number one off the list.
I need to bring paint swatches back here and match this color and paint my room that exact shade of greenish-blue. Corfu is said to be the island of Scheria, home of the Phaeacians, where Odysseus is ship-wrecked when his raft is blown here in a storm. He meets the goddess Athena, disguised as a local girl. He then goes to a palace where he tells of his adventures since the Trojan war, and they take pity on him and have a ship take him home to Ithaca. I might have just stuck around Corfu for awhile, but I do have to remember Odysseus had been lost for ten long years. That's one long trip.
Palaiokastritsa is almost an island itself. It is only connected to the rest of the island by a little strip of sand and road. You can stand facing one beach and have a beach at your back.
The water looked warm and inviting, but it wasn't. Locals told us that the spring current was still bringing cool water from up north and to wait a month before it was warm enough for swimming.
Places like this, the Neo Frourio, or the new fortress. Until quite recently, it had a working naval garrison stationed here.
And places like this. A wonderful baklava bakery where we picked up Every. Single. Kind. of wonderful Greek pastry under the sun. It was dripping with honey and flavored with different fruits and nuts. There were orange ones, and cashew ones, and lemon, and the list went on and on. Mrs. Point and I wrote our names and dates on the wall there. So if you happen to be in Corfu, you will see Kelly S. and Family Was Here! And I should have added and got really fat off of all the baklava we bought.
The great thing, or maybe its not so great now that I am looking at my waist line, is that because baklava is made with honey, it doesn't go bad. We brought our box on the cruise ship, and then in the car, and then home. Constantly snacking out of it. I didn't realize what a problem it was until my jeans wouldn't zip up anymore. Mmm... baklava.
Here is my super-mature husband laughing. Hysterically. He's laughing so hard he can't even breathe. Why? Here's why.
Yep. Those are a bunch of tiny fish eating the dead skin off of my husband's feet. He was laughing so hard because he is so incredibly ticklish. The girls who ran the spa kept telling him to just calm down. "Its okay, sir. Just relax." From which just followed more incomprehensible gibberish from Matt because he was laughing so hard. He is so ticklish that I think its a security hazard for our country. If he ever was kidnapped and forced to tell secrets, he could take torture and pain. Not tickling. He would be giving everything up after 10 seconds. "I give! I give! I will tell you everything, just don't tickle my feet! Please!"
After eating ourselves into a baklava stupor and hearing Matt say, "My feet really are softer!" The day was winding down. We took the long way back through the old town, taking pictures. Listening to Greeks argue, watching Greeks hug and kiss. Often it was the same Greeks.
The old city of Corfu. A fun fact about the town of Corfu is that the streets in the old section are paved with white marble. They had so much of the stuff they laid it down to walk on it. Seems like it would be slippery in the rain.
Beautiful Corfu. Off to the right of this picture are our new good friends, The Point Family. Our partners in crime in Greece. Nothing bonds you like having a taxi-nazi tell you you can't have a van. Reminded me of the soup-nazi on Seinfeld. If you don't know what I am talking about, read about it here or watch it here.
As I walked back to the cruise ship, I thought, 'I could live here.' Corfu was that great. Beautiful, relaxing. And green! After the stark volcanic island of Santorini and the heat of Athens, Corfu was the perfect mix of beaches, baklava, old town, flowers, architecture, and trees. Mrs. Point echoed my sentiment. Maybe when raising four kids gets to each of us, we'll run away here together.
The Palaio Frourio, or old citadel. Built by the Venetians to ward off attackers.
With Corfu's northern position in the Ionian sea, it is the greenest and most lush of all the Greek islands.
I loved seeing how everybody lived and worked so close together.
It was bittersweet leaving Corfu. We were glowing with relaxation (and baklava) and kept talking about what a great day it was. But leaving it was hard. It was our last stop in Greece and we knew that it would be awhile before we got back. We can easily make it to France or Switzerland in an hour or two. But Greece requires a little more effort. It's a good thing that effort is so worth it. Until next time Greece!
*Is still currently working on her waistline from eating all those Greek pastries. This day could also be known as "The Great Baklava Gorging Of 2013."
Up Next - Croatia!