The jewel of the Ionian Islands, Corfu.

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So I first touched down in Corfu on the 16th April where the weather was not completely on our side just yet… though this Greek island was really showing its potential from the beginning, with its flourished emerald mountains and vibrant blue waters, I was very much looking forward to the upcoming weeks when the days lasted longer than the nights. I suppose you cant always have it all straight away, being such a green island you could see how it thrived from the downpours, alongside side that came the thunder, rapid winds and striking lighting altogether rustling up some wicked storms! But the storms could turn to dry heat and clear skies again overnight and the sun would be kissing your skin again before you knew it.

Corfu was never a ‘must do’ on my list however I am so pleased this is where I spent my summer of 2016! First impressions made it easy to see that the island had its own troubles and that the after math of the winter months made it look a little scruffy and run down, there is no tourism during this period and the locals survive mostly from what they earn the previous summer, so life for them becomes quiet and probably quite blissful again. As the Month of May starts to approach the preparation for the summer begins, reconstruction, decoration and additions to the streets of the island really start to tidy the place up, before you know it the tourists and holiday makers start arriving and the tattered streets that began as ghost towns begin to fill with life, lights and colors.

SO SUMMER BEGINS!

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Something about this island that really stood out to me is how local friendly and accommodating everybody is, the Greeks are underestimated for their hospitality and being here has proved that! I feel safe and secure here.

Many people return year after year for those same reasons, to visit friends that started as just their hotelier, their waitress, their cleaner… the Greeks never forget a face which gives their welcome a personal touch for people that return.

I live up the North of the Island in a place called Sidari where I can certainly say I’ve settled and found a place that makes me feel at home. The village of Sidari is quite known as one of the best tourist resorts in Corfu located 36 km from the main town. The village is surrounded by a charming landscape full of lush green forests and has the perfect places to watch all the colors in the sky with the north view of Corfu’s stunning sunsets. Its a great place to be with lots going on! The island has many beautiful beaches, many cobble or shingle though here we are lucky to have a sandy beach. During the day you can hire boats, kayaks, pedalos, jet skis or get involved with a variety of water sports such as para-sailing, if you don’t fancy something quite as adventurous then you can always spend some time soaking up the sun on the sunbeds. The sunbeds are usually around 5 Euro or 8 Euro with an umbrella but if you use the bar/restaurant facilities that back onto the beach then you can always grab a drink and use their sunbeds for free, which we have worked out is the cheaper way of doing things.

For most people that might have looked up there resort online before coming out here I’m sure that when they search Sidari it is likely a place called Canal D’Armour will pop up. Canal D’Armour, also known as the ‘Channel of love’ is an idyllic area with unique rock formations that form a series of wonderful coves and canals. The rocks run in different shades of yellow and lots of greenery at the top, you can reach these stunning coves through several paths and steps. Greek Legend has is that any woman who swims the length of Canal D’Armour will find there one true love… though I have already swam it and am still waiting, so we will see about that!

There is plenty of souvenir and tourist shops where you can find some new clothes, towels, swimwear, sunglasses etc… or even some quaint and traditional gifts to take home as keep safes or for friends and family. There is also plenty of restaurants to indulge, varying from Western, Traditional Greek, Chinese, Indian or Mexican food. Not great for the waist but great for your face! The night life here also keeps things interesting, the main strip in Sidari town has a variety of bars and a handful of clubs there is plenty of places to throw your shapes on the dance floor, there are sports bars, Irish bars, Karaoke bars and even cocktail bars on the beach and for those guilty kebab lovers at the end of the night, yes there is restaurants open until the sun rises for a quick greasy fix!

It is also a lovely place to do horse riding on the beach, being a massive animal lover of course I asked a lot of questions about the welfare of the horses though the immediate impression I got was that even though it was a business they were loved and that the man looking after the horses on a daily basis was there following a passion and was not completely work orientated. There were 18 horses he cared for altogether and they all lived in the fields. They rotate between the horses who will be ridden during a trek each day to avoid them being over worked in the heat. You ride along the coastline and through the shallow water one following the other, it is ideal even if you have never ridden before as the horses are well trained and you can see the connection between man and horse by the way they all listen to what he is saying. If he ran, they ran, if he walked, they walked and if he stopped, they stopped.

Living among the Greek community I was able to pick up some of their basic vocabulary and the most I have ever learnt of a second language so far! including being able to count, say the alphabet and also all my introductions and basics. Some of the more tourist features that occurred in the local restaurants gave guests a chance to see a more traditional side to their chosen destination such as the Greek nights usually hosted in either the hotels or restaurants. People would get up and join in with the Greek dancing hosted by the dancers and also belly dancers which were very good at seducing people to join crowd, people would be smashing plates and balancing tables on their teeth, setting the floors on fire and dancing around the flames, Greek night was a very lively event that people seem to really enjoy and defiantly something to get involved in at least once! Something else unique to Greece was their pork or chicken kebab, a Gyros! made from pitta bread with tzatziki, tomatoes, onions, either chicken or pork and chips and all for 2/4 euros and not forgetting the local beer Mythos usually between 2.50/3 euros or a shot of their famous Ouzo!

So through out the summer life got pretty hectic, pool parties, swimming, clubbing, dancing, singing, drinking, beach meals and day time activities… with a good group of people these days were pretty sweet!

But eventually the candle burns out and every bodies glowing light of energy started to fizzle away leaving us all drained and knackered by the end of August! I loved Sidari and have some amazing memories there, however approaching the end of season its was all starting to become quite repetitive and tedious and my feet started to get itchy once again… I was feeling ready to head home. During September most of my friends left the Island and the volume of people began to die down… By October we were nearly the ghost town I remembered back in April and that included the storms too! For the first time in 8 months I was digging out my jeans, trainers and jumpers and always carried my umbrella.

Life became very much eat, work, sleep repeat and after a long summer working 7 days a week (like the Greeks do) I was ready to board my plane back to England to embrace some ‘normality’ for a short period again.

Though I was fortunate enough to be left in the company of 3 rescue kittens that I had taken in and raised from what I recon to be no older than 3 weeks old! They were dumped down by the port and had very slim chance of survival on their own! So after a small fortune later including vet appointments, medication and lots of TLC they began to grow into playful and mischievous, healthy little kittens. One ginger and white female and two grey and white males who loved to explore from my balcony, attack anything in my room, shred my toilet roll, leave ‘presents’ for me in the shower and then sleep on my face… adorable! But with my soft touch for animals they quickly stole my heart and giving them away was hard. Finding them a forever home was however a blessing as re-homing cats especially in Greece proved incredibly difficult being that there is so many everywhere! With winter round the corner and the kittens still so small I was worried after all this care, when it was time to leave I would have to put them back outside which I still don’t think they were big enough to survive especially after becoming quite used to the life of a domesticated cat! So though it was hard to say bye I was just glad they were saved and hopefully grow from scatty kittens to beautiful healthy cats. I also found a space in my heart for many of the dogs that would roam the streets and would find myself moving stray kittens off the road daily and putting down food for them. This is always the hardest part about travelling for me, I want to save them all!

But all in all looking back at my experience of Corfu and the beautiful Emerald Island that it is, this is a great holiday destination for couples, youth groups and also families to enjoy. Be sure to explore the Island for all its beauty as staying in one resort doesn’t do it any justice, catch my next post ‘Discover Corfu’ for all the hot spots over the island!

 Select ‘International Smile‘ in the header to access my other blog posts.

 

 

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