Tuesday, 27 June 2017

All Greek To Me - Beautiful Paleokastrítsa


I know what you're thinking...what on earth is she doing writing a blog post hours after getting back from Greece? Trust me, after this morning's 1.30 am start, a taxi, a plane, two trains and another taxi I'd like nothing more than to snooze in front of the telly in my pants, drink tea and get reacquainted with the cats but there's a brigade of workmen up cherry pickers, scaffolding and ladders, chipping away at the exterior of the house, so I'm doing my best to stay awake.


Anyway, on to Corfu and our first European Summer holiday in over a decade. 

Linking to Patti & the Gang for Visible Monday

After hours of research we chose Paleokastrítsa in the northwest of the island, described by many as the most beautiful spot on Corfu and by some, in the whole of Europe.  One of the first to fall for its charms was Sir Frederick Adam, British High Commissioner to the Ionian islands in the early 19th century. Paleokastrítsa's appeal lay in her deep wooded slopes, blue sea and bathing beaches but the problem was the relative inaccessibility so Sir Frederick had a road built to the village, with the ostensible purpose of erecting a military convalescent home there. It was never built but Sir Frederick found it a lot easier to take his regular picnics in Paleokastrítsa.


Be warned, if you're not physically fit then Paleokastrítsa might not be the place for you. The streets are very steep and there's lots of - often rather rickety - steps involved. 



Identified as the Homeric city of Scheria, where Odysseus was washed ashore and escorted by Nausicaa to the palace of her father, Alcinous, King of the Phaeacians. You'll find references to these tales in the names of the bars and tavernas all over the village.


During the peak months of July & August, Paleokastrítsa is unsurprisingly heaving with tourists but for our mid-June visit it was perfect. Busy with trippers during the day but never overwhelming or claustrophobic and by night laid back and low key with just enough tavernas to ensure a buzz. 


 The three and a half hour flights cost £80 return with Ryanair from Birmingham airport. We opted to pay an extra £15 for 15 kg of hold baggage so we could take sun cream. I did consider only taking hand luggage and buying our sun protection locally when we landed but, on further investigation, it would have cost us over 50 quid (we pay £5.50 a bottle for it at home, Greece ain't cheap!)


Here's where we stayed, one of the ten studio apartments at Natassa & Spiros, costing £180 for the week. In a quiet spot surrounded by olive groves, with all mod cons (including A/C, which we both hate and refuse to use - preferring an open window and plenty of insect repellent) plus a balcony with a mountain view.  

Off for dinner via the olive grove

We didn't cook but took full advantage of the fridge (and the nearby supermarket) by breakfasting on fresh fruit and Greek yogurt every morning and downing an ice cold Mythos (or Alpha or Hellas) beer after our evening shower with a night cap of Albatross white rum, cola and a wedge from lemon foraged from the groves overhanging the pathways.

Paleokastrítsa harbour

Although undeniably pretty, the main town beaches with their rows of sunbeds and parasols for hire, amplified music, water sports and cocktail bars just aren't our thing.


Walking past the tourist hot spots and investigating some rickety steps led us to discover this quiet little cove where we'd spread our blanket and, for hours at a time, we'd be alone with nothing but the sound of the Ionian Sea gently lapping the bleached shingle and the chirp of the cicadas.


 By 2pm the area beneath the steps are in shade and perfectly timed for our picnic of rustic bread, tangy feta cheese, spicy olives and misshapen locally grown tomatoes as big as tennis balls picked up from the supermarket on the way to the beach. 


Much as I love sea swimming the waters around Corfu were icy. The locals told us to come back in September when the Ionian Sea is as warm as a bath. 


In fact September and October seem like the ideal time to visit. The sea's warm, the heat's less intense and the roads are safer and quieter as the bulk of the tourists have gone.


 Overlooking Paleokastrítsa on a rocky bluff high above the village is the Byzantine Theotókou Monastery, believed to have been established in the thirteenth century. 


Open daily from 7am - 1pm and 3pm - 8pm (but best around sunset when most of the day trippers have left) it's a wonderfully peaceful way to spend an hour or two, petting the many cats that seek sanctuary there and drooling over the velvet embroidered Orthodox priest's jackets and bejewelled head dresses in the on site museum.


Admission is free but donations are welcomed (and help keep the cats in fresh fish). 


 It is requested that visitors dress modestly (I never travel without my shawl) although there's a stock of particularly hideous granny skirts, voluminous trousers and smock tops scantily clad tourists of all sexes are forced to wear if they turn up half naked.






Brace yourselves, there's loads more to share (the food, a road trip, Corfu's capital city and what we wore) but in the meantime I'll leave you with a video of La Grotta, possibly the bar with the best view in all of Corfu.

In the meantime the workers have just knocked off so I can finally strip off the sun dress I've been wearing since the early hours, have a bath and phone for a pizza.

 See you soon!


82 comments:

  1. Such beautiful photos (especially the last, with the pink flowers) and I love your description of the places you visited.

    Your rickety steps comment, has pushed Rik from The Young Ones and him going on about 'the rickety chair' right to the forefront of my mind 😂 xxx

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    1. Thank you! The flowers are spectacular, some of those colours don't look real!
      Haha! Rik used to crack me up. xxx

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  2. Lovely photos! Sounds like the perfect holiday. Glad you arrived home safe and sound.

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    1. Thanks you! We're so relaxed and ready for the festival season now. xxx

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  3. Greek kitties!!!
    What beautiful pictures---so want to go there...
    Love the striped dress you are wearing in the third picture, and that great pompom tote!

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    1. Greece is a cat lover's paradise. We're tempted to volunteer at a cat rescue charity next time. xxx

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  4. I'm glad you had a nice holiday and could escape the tourist crowds. I'll look forward to the next installment of your holiday photos.

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    1. Thanks, Goody! I thought it might have been busier than it was, I'm so relieved it wasn't. xxx

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  5. Looks lovely! Never been but always wanted to because I love the food. But what happened to Glastonbury this year? No tickets? I always think of you when I watch on telly. xxx

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    1. Thanks, Emma! It's beautiful and the food was incredible.
      Yes, didn't manage to get tickets when they went on sale in October so rather than try for the resale thought we'd spend the cash on a holiday instead (and it ended up costing us less to spend a week in Greece!)
      Hopefully there'll be a Glasto 2019 for us (its their fallow year next year). xxx

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  6. Sounds like you had a great time.

    Now you've discovered our secret. Travel in the off season when the schools are still in!

    The Alhambra in February was wonderful. All the time in the world to wander about and nobody to block your pictures.

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    1. We did have a fab time, thank you!
      Yes, that's why we now go to India in January rather than December, I can't be doing with crowds! xxx

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  7. Vix, it looks beautiful but I am surprised at how cold the sea was! You look stunning in your holiday outfits and bikini.

    You mentioned about the sea being warmer in September; I've heard an awful lot of places in Greece shut down by September. We were thinking of going to Greece in October half term and taking the middle and youngest grandson - I'll need to investigate further...

    Looking forward to the next instalment!

    xxxx

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    1. Hi Veronica

      October is also a good month to visit according to the locals we spoke to. Some of the Greek Islands pretty much shut down but Corfu's not one of them. xxx

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  8. Great photos! Guess what?? We are going to Corfu in August!! So I'll be asking lots of advice!

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  9. Beautiful - so glad you guys had a well-deserved good time. It reminds me of Naxos, slower paced and not the disco crowd

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    1. Thank you! UV and foam parties definitely aren't our thing. We definitely made the right choice of place to stay! xxx

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  10. The photos look beautiful, and you look amazing in that striped dress!

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  11. What a wonderful place! I definitely want to go there now! :)

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    1. You should visit Greece, Laurie. It really is lovely. xxx

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  12. Delightful!! I'm sitting here listening to the guy chipping off the old slate on my front steps in preparation for new slate. Perfect time to be imagining myself in Corfu. Hope your house is coming along and that you're rested by now. Love you!! .....J.

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    1. I'm it gave you a distraction from the noise, Jean! Lovely to hear from you. You'll be sick of the place by the time I've finished. xxxx

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  13. WOW, time flies! You're back!!! Such beautiful imagery, and as always your words are evocative. October is my favorite month, if I ever go to Europe, it must be October! I love the little cove you found - it is our speed too, away from crowds. I am surprised they didn't force you to cover your head - in Russian Orthodox churches, women must cover their head with shawls (headscarves). I am also surprised that the sea was cold - I for some reason thought it is always warm over there, silly me! But I love cold sea, if not for swimming, than just for being.

    Welcome home!

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    1. A week just isn't long enough! Today is so cold and wet Greece already feels a bit like a dream.
      I've visited a few Greek Orthodox churches - there's even one in Walsall - but never seen women covering their heads. I wonder why the Russian church is different? I must investigate. xxx

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  14. Your photos look lovely, so glad you had such a wonderful time!

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  15. You look like you are holidaying in Monaco with the rich and famous in your first pic you look beautifully elegant
    . Looks like it was a good chilling out holiday and I like the sound of your rustic picnics.
    Hope the work on the house goes well xxx

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    1. It made a nice change to wear posher clothes as opposed to my Indian hippy gear, I can tell you!!
      A respite from workmen today, it's been too wet. I hope it's warm soon, they need to take the windows and doors out! xxx

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  16. I became good friend with Mythos beer when we went to Greece. Dang, the country is beautiful

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    1. Can't beat a bottle of Mythos! xxx

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  17. Wonderful! the sights are so beautiful and you look amazing, as always. I've been to Crete and this brilliant light is similar there, as well as dozens of wharf kitties. Welcome home, and best of luck on the repairs. xox

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. Crete! My first Greek Island, back in the 1980s. You're right, the light is spectacular and it cries out for colourful clothes! xxx

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  18. That picnic on the beach sounds delicious, as does the idea of consuming lemon fresh-picked from a tree! (I've got my eye on a cluster of cherry tomatoes ripening in a porch pot.) What a glorious escape from the house project: pity it wasn't completed before your return.

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    1. The food is absolutely heavenly, I might have to dedicate an entire post to it. I love how the shops are filled with huge, misshapen fruit and veg, nothing like the bland, uniform looking stuff you get here.
      Mmmm...cherry tomatoes! xxx

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  19. Looks like you and Jon had a great time-loved the little head wiggle in the video as you enjoyed the view and music. Looking forward to your upcoming holiday posts. Xxx

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    1. Ha! Well spotted! I must find out who that soundtrack was by, loads of reggae covers of indie songs. We loved it! xxx

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  20. AAAAAHHHH...sigh....it looks magical. MAGICAL! I particularly love the photo of the gated stairway with the vine arbor above it.

    Can't wait to read more Vix!

    Welcome home...hope you get some rest now.

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  21. Warmth light and colour, while we are waking to 0 degrees. Look forward to more updates.

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    1. 0 degrees? that's not right! I'm being punished here, it's so cold and wet and grey back in England. xxx

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  22. how could you leave that island???
    a totally summer dream!!!! excited to read more! welcome back - gorgeous-t of all beach nymphs! xxxxxx

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    1. I know! 7 days just wasn't enough! xxx

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  23. I need to go there!!!! Thanks for sharing. xx

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    1. It's absolutely lovely, we were so happy with Paleo. xxx

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  24. Wow, looks lovely!! That first dress is gorgeous on you. Can't wait to see more photos. I will have to investigate flights, we don't have our annual sun holiday booked yet. We once went to Kefalonia in September, sea was warm but it was very quiet and obviously closing down for the season - fine by me, I hate crowds! Xx

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    1. Thank you! I think you'd love it. Some gorgeous places to eat, dramatic scenery and laid out in a way that it isn't overwhelming or crowded.
      All the locals we spoke to say how beautiful it is in September. I think we need to go back. xxx

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  25. Wow what a beautiful post , Glad you had a good time , Looking forward to your next episode xxx

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    1. Thank you! It really is a lovely place. xxx

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  26. I've never been to Corfu but the photo's look so beautiful that I'd love to visit.
    I was engrossed by your descriptions, you definitely have a talent for travel writing and I eagerly await the next installment... :) xxx

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    1. Thanks, Sally! I must have read hundreds of travel books over the years, they must have rubbed off on me.
      I think a lot of people dismiss Corfu because it's the most established travel destination in Greece but there's good reason for it's popularity. xxx

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  27. wouuuuuu!, such a magnificent place!, glad you enjoyed it in a quiet atmosphere!, tourists are important to keep some of these places lively and habitable, but sometimes they become a nightmare!
    Love that mediterranean coast, the landscapes, the sea, the fabulous fruits and veggies!
    looking forward to see more of your holidays!
    besos

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    1. I'm so glad we've got the luxury of being able to travel out of the main holiday season. Crazy busy beaches, queuing to see attractions and having to book tables in restaurants would do my head in! xxx

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  28. What a stunning place to recharge the batteries, wonderful photos too, so much colour!

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    1. Thank you! The light, the turquoise waters and the colourful plants are mind blowing! xxxx

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  29. You both seemed to enjoy yourselves! I'm living vicariously through you on your trips! Such wonderful views of Greece thus far.

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    1. Happy to hear that you're enjoying the blog posts, Tracie. It seems odd not talking about India! xxx

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  30. It looks like you had a lovely vacation. Your acommodations look very nice and the bar in the video sounds like a happening place to have a drink. I've never been to Greece, but a friend has been a few times and always takes a ton of photos of all the cats he encounters.

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    1. You'd come back loaded with cats, I think! We petted some beauties. xxx

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  31. As the rain falls on a chilly 17 deg day, a holiday on Corfu fits the bill perfectly, Vix! Thanks for sharing some history, stories and photos. You look absolutely stunning in your striped sundress above the sea - you are a woman of the sun... I checked out your apartment complex via the link and what a nice find that was! (Did you get the purple room???) The view wonderful. And the priest's velvet jackets...I wouldn't mind seeing those... Hope the English weather has been kind since your return and looking forward to the next instalment.xx

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    1. We've come back to unseasonably chilly 15 degree temperatures. I'm almost tempted to stick the heating on!
      Sadly we didn't get the purple room, I was hoping we would. There was some crazy animal print bedding though to add a touch of colour. xxx

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  32. Ooooh that looks beautiful! It's relaxing just looking at the photos.

    I can't understand people who turn up at religious sites without covering up - I do it no matter what the religion, it's just polite.

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    1. It's a bit of a change to the gloomy weather here this week!
      Don't get me started on the inappropriateness on how some tourists dress. walking around smart city centres in bikini tops or blokes topless with swimming shorts. A bit of sun and all sense flies out of the window. xxx

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  33. Oh I miss the ocean of my native California! Thank you for a vicarious thrill by way of your gorgeous photos though.
    xox

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    1. I bet you do! There's nothing like a glimpse of turquoise sea. xxx

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  34. Simply breathtaking! A feast for the eyes for sure. Your vacation sounds perfect. I would have done the same thing, find a spot away from the crowds. Love the colorblock maxi and the kitty photos. BTW, how on earth did you get such a flat tummy? I want in on your secret :)

    Theresa

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    1. Thanks, Theresa! Cats are everywhere in Greece, one of the reasons we love it so much!
      I'm surprised I didn't put on a stone while we were away, the food was sublime! xxx

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  35. I'm surprised to hear that the sea was that cold. I will mark down that I should visit in October : )

    I love the little "private" beach you found. I abhor crowded loud beaches.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. It was freezing! We've been spoilt in Goa.
      I hope you manage to get to Greece, it's so lovely and the food is to die for. xxx

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  36. What a place! I'd love to visit the Theotókou Monastery - and not just for the cats ;)

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    1. A really lovely tranquil spot and surprisingly cool, too. There were some gorgeous kittens there, I wanted to steal them! xxx

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  37. What a gorgeous place Vix! Thank you for the history as well. You and Jon must have had an incredible time. 💜

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    1. Thanks, Cherre! It was a lovely, relaxed break! I'm ready for the rest of the festival season now. xxx

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  38. What an absolute dream of a place. I'm sure you made the right decision going slightly out of season though, and how great to have found a cove away from the main beach. The cats our delightful, and that striped dress you are wearing is absolutely stunning! xxx

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    1. It was so beautiful we couldn't quite believe our luck when we got there. xxx

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  39. What an amazing picnic spot, love your pom-pom-y basket too!

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    1. Thanks, Susie. Gotta love a pom pom or three! xxx

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Don't be shy, if you enjoyed your visit leave a comment, I can come and visit your blog if you do.
Love from Vix
xxx