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Published: June 25th 2010
Today I wake to a nice sunny day and take a leisurely breakfast sat on the balcony watching lizards climbing up the trunks of the cypress trees nearby. All is quiet; the door opens and the cleaners come in...............see me and say sorry. I tell them I'm leaving at 10am and finish my breakfast; do the washing up and then complete my packing. I decide to wait for Chris at the top of the road and walk up their early and sit on the wall. There are many butterflies here so I watch them and take a few photos. Chris arrives, punctual as ever and we are soon on our way to Corfu Town. We chat; he asks about my foot and the walk and I tell him about getting lost but missing them and their later callbacks but that I was ok as I managed to get a lift. That otherwise the walk had been a great success; that I'd seen a Beech Marten (Chris didn't really understand this name and I didn't remember the Greek word....it is Kounavi......and suggested I speak with Anna tomorrow and send her my photo) an dthat I'd walked in clouds on Friday as I
had heard rain on Friday or Saturday and that I was glad I had. Along the way Chris points out places and before long we are into Corfu Town; th eroads are quiet and Chris tells me that sometimes they can be very busy. We arrive at the Konstantopoulis Hotel where I was two weeks previous and Chris drops me off reminding me Anna will pick me up at 9am next morning for the airport. I book in, easy as they remember me and my room is ready; 305. I leave my travel bag and take what is necessary for some more exploring around town.
First I go opposite to the cash machine; it is out of order so a short walk to find another. I do notice that a lot of the shops are closed even the ones that were open two sundays previous when I was in Town. Money obtained I retrace my steps as I was to visit Solomos Museum. This is a museum for the poet Dionysios Solomos (1798-1857) born on island of Kakynthos but lived his later life on Corfu. He was achampion of the modern Greek language. After his death in 1863 a friend,
composer Nicholas Mantzaros, set the first two stanzas of Solomos's 1822 poem, 'Hymm to Liberty' to music. This combined work became the Greek national anthem. The museum is a reconstruction of Solomos's house, the original being destroyed in WWII; unfortunately for me it was closed. A short walk on and I'm at the Byzantine Museum which is open with free entry. This museum is inside the old Church of Panagia Antivouniotissa (Church of the Blessed Virgin) and is an outstanding collection of Byzantine art. There are about 90 icons on display from the 13th centuary to the 18th centuary and are og great quality considering their age. They depict individual saints or biblical scenes. The church interior itself is also amazing with a splendid decorated ceiling, painted walls and guilded woodwork.
Now it is on past the Reading Rooms referred to in Lawrence Durrells books (founded in 1836 it now houses an incredible collection of Ionion themed books, manuscripts, periodicals, engravings and maps by greek and froeign authors), past the Palace of St George and St Michael into the area of the Spainada. Past the Liston and here outside McDonalds yoy can catch a small road train. This train costs
5€ and will take you on a tour; this is for me as once before I tried but there were not enough customers and also as it would save me walking. This trip is ideal if you are in Corfu Town for just a day and wish to see as much as possible but not in great detail. Off we go and the first short stop (it stops as the taped talk is in several languages so takes a bit of time on each subject but allows time for photos while not on the move) was at the Ionion Academy (the first University in modern Greece); next the statue of Ioannis Capodistrias, one of Corfu's most famous citizens who became the first President of modern Greece in 1827. Nearby is the Howard Douglas obelisk (he was Lord High Commissioner to the Ionions 1835 to 1840). Passing through streets lined with parked cars we emerge at a very tight junction which we just snake around to pass the Byzantine Church of St Jason and St Sosipater. This is Corfu's only example of 10th to early 11th centuary Byzantine architecture in this rather anonomous corner of Anemomylos suburb. It is in unbelievable
condition considering its age. Jason and Sosipater were Bishops who brought cristianity to Corfuduring the 1st centuary when the Island was under Roman rule. It is said they were martyred for their beliefs. The design of the church, built in the shapr of a cross, with a central dome that crowns an octagonal drum. Beams of sunlight passing through the stained glass windows of the dome create luminous pools of colour inside. I was not going in; in any event being sunday there was a service on, so maybe it is worth a visit by foot when in Town in the future. Thr train now continues where I walked on my visit two weeks ago through Paleopoulis and stops at some of the sites, The Roman baths, the Basilica. We are also told about the Mon Repos estate as we pass the entrance. Looping round th eone way system we pass teh Mon Repos Restaurant at the top edge of Garitsa Bay; here you pay a small entry fee and use the facilities for sunbathing and swimming. We follow the Bay with its great views over to the Town and the New Fort; the Tavernas on our left are filling
up with locals as usual on a sunday. Back on the Spainada we stop at the Maitland Rotunda, built in 1816. Maitland was the first British Lord High Commissioner to Corfu. Passing the entrance to the New Fort, well worth a visit as there is a small museum and then the whole fort to walk around and it you are up to it a steep climb to the lighthouse at the top which rewards you with an aerial view over the Town, then past the cricket pitch where a youth organisation are practising bowling; both boys and girls. We see across to the Palace of St George and St Michael and the statue fronting it off Sir Frederick Adam, another British High Commissioner who set up the road to and popularised Paleokastrika and built Mon Repos. The Palace was built over five years from 1819 as home for the Lord High Commissioner. It currently houses the museum of Asiatic Art. Now back at McDonalds we alight after a pleasant and interesting trip. Time for a beer at the Liston Bar doing some people watching. I discover why town is quiet and so many shops closed; today is the only Sunday
until nearly October when there are no cruise liners in dock. The shop owners knowing the number of tourists is light in early June and less the custom of the 1000+ on a cruise ship take the chance of a day with their families.
I now decide to head for lunch at my favourite reasaurant in Corfu Town. It is behind the Liston area on your way towards the Church of St Spiriodon and is called "Ta Kokopia" which I believe to be The Cockerel. It is tables outside in a small square overlooked by the local residences and shaded by trees. It is popular with the locals which is always a sign of good food. I have never been disappointed and today I had Rabbit Stifado. Traditionally rabbit is used but often you will find a city version using beef. The rabbit is cooked with shallots and in a sauce made from peeled tomatoes, red wine, olive oil, garlic, red wine vinegar, parsley, bay leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt/pepper. It is delicious just as it comes mopping the sauce with bread. This meal was accompanied with ouzo and ice; they give you a separate glass of water (as do
all good restaurants/tavernas) and a beer. I also have a desert of Baclava and cream. I obtain one of the disposable tablecloths to take home; it advertises Amstel in Greek. It will make a good present for Ian the ghost writer who loves his Amstel and is shortly moving so will need such an item for his new home............if he can keep it dry.
Time to chill again and what better way than on the water so I head to the Old Port and pick up the ferry to Vidos Island; just 2€ return trip of some 10 minutes each way. Very popular with the locals for a day out either walking, picnicing, swimming or just dining in the Restaurant there. The woodland islnad is a wildlife sanctuary and also the home of a scout campsite. Now peaceful it has a chequered past. A one time hunting preserve of a Venetian Count it was three times occupied over the centuaries by forces trying to capture Corfu. They used it as a firing base on the Town. The British used it as a penal settlement and you can see the prison blocks today. It later still became a cemetary. It was
also a base for Serbian soldiers during WWII and many died here and there is a large monument built here in their memory. To walk through the pines is so different in it slight and smell to the olives groves I have become so used to over the last two weeks. Rabbits hop about and pheasant sare strutting their stuff; the females so camouflaged against the brown soil. You can see old olive or grape presses and wells as you amble along the trails. There are little beaches or rocks where it is safe to swim. They are full of locals and the beach has a dozen or so yachts and motor boats moored off it. Afer a nice stroll relaxing in the afternoon sun I have a beer at the reastaurant sat looking across to Corfu Town; a great view and even better at night when the Town is lit up. The last ferry back is 1am so no problem if you are staying in Town; you could come over and dine late in the evening. Not for me and I catch the ferry back at about 6:30pm. I now pop into the Old Town to do some last
minute shopping to pack into my travel bag. I return to the Hotel briefly to drop off my shopping and then pop to the local snack bar where I went two weeks ago for few Royal Ionion beers and a Greek Salad. It seems so much longer than two weeks due to the amount I have packed into my holiday and the places I have visited. Its such a shame it has come to my last night but I will be taking the memories of a very special holiday with me and off course I will be returning to Corfu again very soon. The swifts are still flying around noisily overhead their numbers now increased as their young are all on the wing building up strength for the long flight back south of the Sahara. Maria the waitress remembers me and asks if I had a nice holiday.
I return to the Hotel again and pack ready for my departure tomorrow. I leave the rucksack as empty as possible for duty frees at the airport as Easyjet only allow one item of hand luggage; an dif you buy at duty free shop once through the passport checks when you get
to the departure gate they charge you extra if you have two bags even if one from duty free shop. They didn't used too but obviously they see it as a way of getting extra money!! They wont catch me out. All packed I sit downstairs in the lounge having beers and ouzos relaxing on my last night. Through the window I see ferries come and go all lit up in the now darkness. Finally I retire for my last night in Corfu as tomorrow I fly home with my memories of a successful walk of The Corfu Trail; the sights, the smell of the flowers, trees, the colours of the country, the 200 greens the yellows that dominated the Pantokrtor slopes, the purples, blues, pinks, whites, yellows, reds of the flowers and of course the blues, turquioses, emerald greens of the seas. The lizards, butterflies, snakes, tortoises and the Beech Marten and the birds. I will miss them all but I have the memories and a 1000 photos to enjoy and this blog to write.
Tomorrow...............I must fly and the end of the Shrek auction.
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