Thursday, June 30, 2016

Twenty Four Hours in Corfu

The transformation begins on the top step of the airplane stairs. That incredible Greek sunlight carves the Corfu mountains so very precisely into the azure blue sky. It partners with the warm breeze to anesthetize the emerging passengers. And we're finally here, back in Greece! Our fountain of youth. Transformed, we are young, we are strong, we are free!

First stop: Kalami to resurrect an old memory. My first encounter with this quaint little seaside village was in 1990-something when my mother-in-law watched our children and my husband, Nick, and I took to the road in my brother-in-law's tiny car, nicknamed the cockroach (by us only), which now seems terribly ungrateful on our part. I loved Kalami then and the love remains. It's an adorable little bay with a few restaurants and that signature warm blue sea water.

It's also the home of The White House. That's a house-turned-restaurant that was originally Lawrence Durell's residence. He is the brother of Gerald Durell, author of My Family and other Animals which tells of his experience as a child in Corfu in the 1930s. That was an extra treat because I knew it existed but  didn't realize it was in Kalami until we happened upon it. The food was so-so, but the atmosphere for a nerdy bookworm was wonderful as was the scenery.

Next stop: Kassiopi to a hotel that was exactly what a tired stressed-out old lady needed. It was the product of an online search and it was very good luck. Chrismos Hotel was a quiet, tucked-away little treasure with a lovely sea view, pool, cafe and bar.

While there, we visited the village of Kassiopi where we sat in a little cafe and had a gargantuan English breakfast. The English breakfast gets an A+. Nick washed his down with a beer which seemed to be the norm. I ordered Greek coffee which was more like warm brown water. The server explained that the British clientele preferred their "greek" coffee that way and then removed it from the bill. Honestly, the view and atmosphere were so pleasant, I would have eaten shredded cardboard with a smile.

Now, how does one write about spending time in Corfu at this particular time without mentioning the stinky garbage piles?

As an American abroad I've been blatantly blamed for many things over the years. One of the most horrifying:  "Why are you attacking Iraq?" with a fist in the air and spittle in my face. So I clearly recognize the border between the people of a region and their government. They are not the same entity. There is also the limp argument that blames the people's predicament on their voting for so-and-so, but our expectations of leaders should be that of integrity and honesty . . . well, this is not a political post, so let me move on.  The garbage issue will be settled. Of that, I am sure. The conversation on line on whether or not to tell potential tourists is another issue. I found the city of Corfu to be overwrought with a stench from unsightly, uncollected mountains of garbage, that I personally could not tolerate. I believe myself to be a very ordinary person and suspect that my experience of working hard for many years and saving money for hard-earned vacations is something many prospective tourists share. Therefore, I would be extraordinarily disappointed if I had booked a holiday in the city of Corfu at this particular time, but somewhat relieved if I were able to drive through to the countryside where the garbage issue is less obvious. But this is an issue for current tourists, not future.

The original title of this post was going to be Around Corfu in Three Days. That was the plan. I'd dreamed of it all winter but was able to change that plan without one iota of indecision. We left on a ferry the very next day. The fight regarding garbage collection will be resolved, I have no doubt of that, and I will return to the beautiful island of Corfu at that time without trepidation.


  1. Beautiful Corfu! So sad that there was the garbage problem but as you predicted it was resolved.