A rantbox

Corfu: A [not too] Lazy Tale

I finally came around to editing the notes I took while on vacation at Corfu, that nice green Greek island. I hope you'll enjoy this read ;) At least I can heartily recommend visiting this sweet little island.

20060805 - To Corfu!

After my quick blurp a lot earlier today on a lazy chair on Schiphol Airport, we entertained ourselves with doing absolutely nothing until it was almost boarding time. Somewhere after a half past five, we where alowed to board. Our plane - a Boeing 737 from Transavia - was almost full, but not quite, so we got a free extra seat of our own :) [For the unitiated: there are three chairs on both sides of the walkway.

About an hour and a great start with nice acceleration later [can you notice this is my first flight ever?], we found ourselves on our flight to Corfu. There was some delay because of a lot of traffic around Greece, but with about 45 minutes of delay, we where quite fine. The sight of a lot of clouds from above got boring after a while, so we watched some chick flick on the tiny tft screens [Failure to Launch iirc]. After two and a half hour, we where above an intense blue sea, and approaching our destination, of which we got a great view from our silver bird. The pilot had to step on the brakes quite hard to prevent us parking in the old city of Kerkyra, which was great fun in itself.

After picking up our luggage, speaking some Dutch with our friendly hostess of Sunspot Travel and picking up our rented car [a free upgrade from Kia Picanto class to VW Polo class, avec du airco thank the Light :)], we headed north to our apartment in Barbati. The traffic is a bit getting-used-to, but quite fun when you get the hang of it, and always surprising regarding hills with nice views, sudden U-turns and other niceties. Our apartment turned out to be a really nice one, with the only set-back to be on the wrong end of quite a lot of stairs. But we're getting used to that [1 link to Torri del Benacco] ;) With high altitudes come nice views, so we're content.

After some groceries we crashed in the chairs on our terrace, but I was a tad tired [hadn't slept since morning the day before], so I re-crashed on my bed, while Ineke went checking out the swimming pool. I woke up on another day - no wait, still the same day only a few hours later, but my body refused to be convinced [what Ineke had too] - after which we ventured out to get something to eat a few stairs lower. We both got a pizza by the swimming pool. The rest of the evening was quite uneventfull, disregarding a short walk on our hill and a welcome amount of sleep.

20060806 - Sunday, second day of Vacation

Waking a tad groggy and to the sound of some happy Greeks celebrating live or whatever from 7:30AM on, we decided to go explore the north side of Corfu. We enjoyed quite some places with amazing views of that tempting blue sea [of which we still didn't have a taste yet], and also a small, almost hidden beach in Kouloura with the really tiny, curvy and vertically challanged road that goes with it. Some towns further down our row, we parked our car and ventured out into the little town, curved around its port. We had some spaghetti on a shadowy terrace, and went to see some more of the see and the old ruins of the fortress there.

When we got tired and had helped ourselves to some big bottles of water and that cold dark fluid with bubbles, we went on to the west coast, which we followed a bit until we went back eastward. A lot of olive yards there in the hills. Black nets where hang underneath the trees to catch the ripe olives. Lazy bums ;)

Back with our appartment, we had a little swim and dried ourselves in the sun until it lazely hid itself behind the mountain. Enjoyed some self-made tortellini and did quite a lot of nothing. We got a text message that Ineke's grandma enjoyed her new pc [with Debian Linux!].

20060807 - Monday

Today it was time for some traffic hell again. Back to Kerkyra, also known as Corfu city. After we finally decided to call an end to finding a certain road [with the office of our travel agent at it], we parked our car under the New Fortress and went on by foot. We where instantly impressed by the sheer vastness of the building, but we decided to find the touring operator first, to get us a ticket on the boat trip to Paxos and Antipaxos next Friday. Along the way we saw some of Kerkyra. We turned out to be right on time, as the office would close in about fifteen minutes. Booked ourselves a nice trip, and ventured back to the centre, where we got something nice to eat. Then we went back to the Old Fortress, and got our two Euro ticket, which turned out to be a bargain for the amount of time we enjoyed ourselves there. Shot a huge amount of pictures [have to do something with that nice a view], and relaxed, just enjoying the sight.

We called it a day and went back to our apartment, where we found out the beach was already left behind alone by the sun, so we got some of that golden shine on the side of the swimming pool, until that darn mountain swallowed the golden plate again. We had a really nice dinner for two with a magnificent view on the bay and got back quite late. Some writings up of our adventures, and now time to hit the sack.

20060808 - Tuesday, time to hit the road

Today we had decided to visit the west coast of our vacation home. So, again we went north, went past the little towns we already visited on Sunday, and headed to Longás Beach in the north west extreme of the island, where we finally got ourselves wet in the blue, blue water. After we had swom enough, we hit the narrow, winding but beautiful roads south. After getting us something to eat at a shady place at Ágios Geórgios Pagón beach, we continued south over a winding road with U-turns providing us a nice view over the bay there. Then we got to Paleokastritsa, but because it was so crowded with those darn creatures called tourists, we backed out fast after taking some pictures of the beautiful bay and continued our trip. Now we went east, back to Gouviá, where we got back on our road north to Barbáti. Back at our apartment, we got ourselves 28 postcards in the store next to the complex, of which we wrote 16 while chilling out and eating some on the terrace.

20060809 - City time

Today we saw most of Kerkyra by car before we decided we where best off parking it on the same spot near the New Fortress again. As we wanted to visit the Old City and the Old Fortress - which both where on the other side of the town than the New Fortress - we had hoped to park a tad closer in that direction, but Kerkyra ain't so large anyway. Soon we where in the narrow, pleasantly crowded roads of the Old City. Here we enjoyed ourselves looking at the small stores and taking a lot of pictures of pittoresque views and crowded roads full of tourists doing the same, only more focussed on the wares. We bought us some Really Nice Olive Wood Souvenirs(tm), a nice, short red dress for Ineke and eventually got to the square leading to the Old Fortress. First we eat some crepes at a place really full of theirselves being somewhere high on the rank of good restaurants, but pouring water in black glasses that tasted like the paint. The crepes where really good though, and my version with ice cream and chocolate sirup was welcome on this hot hour. After that we walked around some more old streets and got to the sea, from where we walked back to the square leading to the fortress, passing some nice old buildings and parks in the meanwhile. At the fortress we got student discount (see? being a student is good for something), so instead of 8 euro's, we where only ripped off 4. It was a kind of interesting place, but a little disappointing, as most where ruins and couldn't be visited. Also, the views on the New Fortress where better. All in all nice-ish, but not as good as we expected.

After relaxing a bit in a shady park, we walked back alongside the sea to our car and headed home. The swimming pool brought some refreshment to our poor bodies and after a quick shower we got to a nice eating place down the road, Ineke in her newly bought dress [gawd, I have a cute girlfriend :P]. The food was as nice as on Monday at that other place, only a tad cheaper; the terrace wasn't as nice, but seeing the moon coming up above the Albanian mountains at the other side of the sea while the sun was already set made up for that big time. Stifado for me (nicely done pork with mustard sauce) and now the Pastitsada for the lady. This terrace has the stairs down to the beach closest to our apartment, btw.

Now we are enjoying a couple of glasses of wine we just bought at our friendly supermarket next door which surprisingly was still open at 21:30, and generally chilling out.

20060810 - Sun bathing time!

This day we had planned for doing some serious relaxing and sunbathing/swimming. However, when we woke up, we woke up to the sound of rain. A lot of rain. A whole mosson suddenly deciding to fall in one day. You can read some disappointment there, yes.

Anyway, we spent most of the day reading on our beds, so the relaxing part was at least taken care of. We had a nice meal at the same restaurant as Tuesday evening, and I had their great Pastitsada again. Ouzo on the house, and the wine afterwards at the apartment where pleasurable.

20060811 - Sea, more sea, island, sea, island, sea...

Today it was time for our planned boat trip to Paxos and Antipasti^WAntipaxos. We where fetched by touringcar at about 7:40 in the morning, and brought to Kerkyra's Old Port. The weather was a lot better again, and we boarded an empty vessel in the morning sun. We had a nice view of one of the largest cruise ships we have seen in our lives, and quite a beautiful one at that. After quite a bit of waiting while the boat filled up completely, we took off for a nice trip south. We had a nice view of Kerkyra city from the water, and of course the whole south part of Corfu went by while the ship went steadily towards the little island of Paxos, just south of Corfu. When we crossed the open sea between those two islands, things got a little more rough, and we had a great time rocking about with the boat on the larger waves. When we got to the west coast of Paxos, we rounded some cliffs and "visited" some sea caves. This was done be slowly approaching them with the boat, getting the front of the ship as far in as possible, hooting the horn a few times, then slowly backing out again, all the time rocking not-so-gently on the waves and producing more and more green faces.

After three of those caves, they where out of supply, and we went on to the tiny island Antipaxos, south of Paxos. Here we could swim around the boat, but we both entertained ourselves looking at all the tourist boats with swarms of floating heads around them. After a minute or twenty we took off again for the largest harbour on Paxos. Here we had a pleasant stay wandering around the small town, sitting at a hidden intersection with some beautiful trees and gardens and eating a free pizza at the town square [people only billed us for our drinks :/ You don't here me complaining :)] and leaving shortly after that because the boat was departing. Well, it departed after some people showed up late [I mean, they said the departure time trice in four languages when we got here, a woman even standing at the shore end of the --loopplank-- with a large sign with that same time; how freaking hard can it be to be back a bit in time...]. We headed back north and suddenly where heading for the second harbour of Paxos. That wasn't planned. It was a idyllic little bay, which was peaceful until we came around. Another hour was to be spent here, which we spent taking a short stroll and then crashing on some stone benches on a nice little square. Then we headed back to Kerkyra. This two hour trip back was mostly uneventful, safe for the not-so-gentle rocking of the boat in the open waters between the two islands. The cruise ship had gathered a friend in the meanwhile, which dwarfed some of the local cruise vessels.

A touring car got us back at our apartment. I have to admit that those touring car drivers know how to drive on the winding roads here :) The rest of the evening was spent crashing down on our beds and getting some soup inside.

20060812 - Look mom, we visited Sissi's palace

After sleeping very well, we got up lazily but found ourselves soonish in our car anyway, headed for the Achilleon, Emperor Elizabeth's villa on this little rock we're having vacation on. Elizabeth from Austria [born in 1837, murdered in 1898] is better known as Sissi. The villa we visited is themed after the Greek hero Achilles, and stars in the movie series about this Sissi person, of which my mother happens to be a fan. So now she will have to visit this boring island too, shame, shame... ;)

It was nicely preserved, and so where the gardens. I even took more pictures than yesterday on the boat. All-in-all worth the nice traffic jam where where locked into for about three quarters of an hour. Note: Germans in their own Mercedes Benz don't understand that there could be a police agent could be directing the traffic instead of those lights that go from green to red and pass orange somewhere in the middle. That's just not how there minds work I guess...

Anyway, we spent a pleasurable amount of time there, and got back late in the afternoon. Had a nice dish of Musaka [sliced potatoes with minced meat and Bechamel sauce, looking a bit like lasagna, but tasting really different and really good]. Evening was further spent reading The Relic. [Damn you, Preston & Child, for writing such addictively fascinating books!].

20060813 - Sunday

Today it was time for some relaxing again, so we sat in the sun on our terrace for a while, after which we decided the pool had better sun chairs. Most of the hours after that, we sat at the side of the pool reading, or took a refreshing dive. We also both had an omelet there, mine [containing cheese, ham and pepper, which is better known as paprika in Dutchyland] being one of the greatest I've tasted so far. Thanks for that, Irini :) [owner of this nice lot]. When we had enough of the sun and had cooled down a bit in our apartment with our books, we took a little walk up the mountain, and shot another 85 or so pictures. Those image tanks aren't good for holding back in the amount of footage one shoots ;)

Anyway, we made some dinner, which we had to take inside again halfway through as it started raining and thundering. It's quite windy too...

20060814 - Monday, time to go home...

After taking care we had left our apartment on time and putting most of our luggage in the car, we relaxed at the pool side. Then we enjoyed another of those delicious omelets and took off to the airport. We where way too early, but when time came to check in, and it finally appeared on the screens, a touringcar load of others where standing before us. Oh well. Halfway through the slow checkin, the queue stalled, and we heard the trollies used for transporting the luggage to the planes where all used so we had to wait till some came free again. Also, we "enjoyed" watching the long queue for the flights to England, on which a terrorist alert was issued. They couldn't even take hand luggage with them. After checking in, we lounged in the huge *cough* waiting area of the small airport till it was time to board at about 5PM Corfu time. Now we had a seat on both sides of the walkway, but this was balanced by the fact we actually where seated at the emergency exits, so we had enough space for our legs, which is always good :) The flight back was spend watching Ice Age 2, but largely uneventful, until we started decending. Then the magnificent views on the large layers of clouds was a nice way to pass the time. At the end, we emerged below a large rain cloud, and decended further over a very rainy Amsterdam. I sighted my university, which is always fun to see from the air, and then we landed at about 18:45 local time, wobbling because of the wind from the side.

The luggage belt was found soon, but the suitcases where nowhere to be seen for another 1.5 hours. Then mine appeared. After another 15 minutes -- in which we started longing for a soft couch -- the other suitcase finally appeared too, so we could depart. Our family waiting for us to drive us home was glad about that too ;) So, instead of being home early [as we landed 20 minutes before schedule], we could finally crash on our couch at 9PM.