Thursday, 29 June 2017

Greece is The Word - Exploring Kérkyra



We'd heard good things about Corfu's public transport system so, with a bus stop a few minutes walk from our apartment, we decided to visit Kérkyra (Corfu Town), the island's capital. The timetable came with a warning, Buses may be late depending on traffic, so we weren't unduly worried when the bus trundled down the hill 30 minutes later than expected. Luckily for us there was a conveniently situated olive tree next to the stop, providing some welcome shade from the heat which, at 9am, was already nudging 35° C.


We took Natassa, our landlady's advice, and asked the driver for a copy of the return timetable before we got off the bus, also requesting he point out the departure point for the bus back as the signposts were mostly in Greek.


Using the street map from the vintage Corfu guidebook we'd bought from Baddesley Clinton's secondhand bookshop a couple of weeks previously, we navigated our way to the Esplanade and treated ourselves to an iced coffee, served with a glass of water, from one of the smart cafés overlooking Kérkyra harbour.


We gazed longingly at the view of neighbouring Albania across the shimmering, clear blue waters of the Ionian Sea. If we'd had longer we'd have taken a ferry and stayed there for a few of days. Albania is said to be beautiful and, as yet, untouched by mass tourism .


Overlooking the Esplanade were the Paleó Froúrio (Old Fort) and Néo Froúrio (New Fort), which are rather misleadingly named as there's less than a hundred years between them, one being built by the Byzantines in the mid-twelfth century and the other by the Venetian occupiers. Admission to the forts and their museums was 6€ each so, to save cash, we opted for a multiple pass to the museums in and around Kérkyra instead (14€).
















According to our vintage guidebook, the Neoclassical shrine of St George, built by the British in the 1840s and badly bombed in WW2 was closed to visitors, a disharmonious eyesore. Fortunately things have moved on and the shrine has since been fully restored with walls lined with opulent Orthodox icons, magnificent painted ceilings and cool marble tiled floors. 


Time for a leisurely stroll around one of shady green spaces dotted around Kérkyra, this is Bosketto Durrell a public park dedicated to the writers, Lawrence & Gerald. We loved how, over the years, visitors had rubbed the brother's noses for luck, wearing away the bronze.




The next hour was spent admiring what is said to be the finest collection of Asiatic art in the world at the Museum of Asian Art set within the grandly restored State Rooms of the Palace of St Michael and St George. No photos were allowed sadly but what a collection! Hand painted 18th century silk kimonos, courtesan's masks, Samurai armour and swords, 12th Century Indian erotic art, tribal jewellery, Ming dynasty ceramics, Afghani temple treasures, Khmer Buddha heads, opium pipes, ginger jars and Japanese rice screens.



A passionate collector of Asian art, Gregorios Manos was born in Corfu and rose to become a diplomat. In 1919 when he was Greek Ambassador to Austria, he offered his large collection to the state, on the condition that he could retire on a pension and spend the rest of his days as curator of the museum. Sadly it took until 1927 for any agreement to be reached and Manos died in poverty a year later, reputedly all spent out after a lifetime of collecting. 



The water surrounding Kérkyra harbour is so clean you can swim in it.  



Corfu is the most colonised island in the Mediterranean with the Corinthians, Romans, Byzantines, British and French all having taken over. The most influential architecturally has to have been the Venetians, whose graceful legacy makes Kérkyra so alluring.


Corfu is closer to Italy than it is to Athens you can tell. Meandering the maze of narrow streets that cluster higgledy-piggledy between the old and new forts is a joy. It's pointless trying to follow a map, the fun is getting lost and exploring interesting side streets. Washing hangs drying above your head suspended on lines strung between buildings, scooters buzz down the cobbles beeping for you to jump out of the way and baskets are glimpsed, descending from windows way up high, waiting to be filled with the goods from tradesmen in the street below.


In Greece lunch is usually taken between 2 - 3pm so, after a morning spent exploring, we decided to follow the locals and eat on the Listón, the elegant terrace of shady cafés bordering the Esplanade and reminiscent of Paris's Rue de Rivoli, hardly surprising as the area was designed and built by a Frenchman.


The locals have been eating at Aegli, Kérkyra's oldest restaurant for decades (although nobody seems quite sure just how long). For around 25€ we devoured wonderful Greek salads washed down with ice cold Mythos beer. Parisian chic minus the Parisian price tag.


We could have spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the shade, watching the world go by, distracted only slightly by rumbles of conversation as office workers exchanged gossip over lunch and the clank of cutlery as waiters hastily laid tables in readiness for the next wave of diners.


But we had a bus to catch and, with just enough time for a bit more sightseeing, we admired the pristine pink and white Orthodox cathedral in the Town Square (built in 1577 but as good as new). 


We strolled along the cobbled, tree lined streets past the elegant town hall in Guilford Square making our way to the bus depot.


Buses from Paleokastrítsa to Kérkyra Town run eight times a day, take 45 minutes and cost 2.5€ each way. The last bus back is at around 8pm.

Vintage 1970 gingham & cotton maxi by Uninhibited (Charity shop) worn with retro sunglasses, Swedish clogs and a straw basket embellished with pom poms (obviously!)

See you soon!

79 comments:

  1. Your photos are excellent! I have never been to Greece, but you always tempt me with your travel posts. You have just put Greece on my list of places that I want to visit. Thanks Vix!

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    1. Greece is awesome! We went 6 years ago and we didn't want to come home.

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    2. I echo Thorne, Greece is beautiful and so varied, there really is something for everyone. xxx

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  2. What a beautiful place! You and Jon have such adventures!

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  3. It all looks wonderful!

    I loved the golden nosed Durrells.

    You and Jon both look very cool despite the high temperatures and that glorious blue sky. Your maxi dress is so pretty and just perfect for where you were!

    Looking forward to the next post...

    xxx

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    1. Who'd have thought that the dress I spotted in a charity shop on a winter's day out with Curtise and Tania would end up in Corfu?! xxx

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  4. Everything is so beautiful there! And you look cool and chic in your maxi dress! :)

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  5. I love, love, LOVE your dress! You look so beautiful there on your travel adventures. The photos are great. What a beautiful place. I would love to visit there some day. Greek salads?? YUM!! I love the bronze nose. Makes his nose look even bigger to have the patina worn away like that. xoxo Lynn

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    1. Thanks, Lynn! I loved the patina on the Durrell noses. There was also a statue of a nude Greek god, I bet you can tell which bit of him had been touched the most (too X rated for a blog post!) xxx

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  6. Simply beautiful! Greece looks gorgeous and I hope to travel there soon.

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    1. I hope you get there, Tracie! xxx

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  7. You guys have exactly the same idea of a nice greek lunch as we do, beer and salad! It looks lovely, so fun to go exploring

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    1. Can't beat beer and salad, food of the gods! xxx

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  8. These photos are magnificent-better than any guidebook.

    That's a smart travel tip asking where the return bus picks up. I'm sure your mentioning it will save someone a big hassle someday.

    And I love those glasses!

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    1. Thanks, Goody! We'd still be there if we had to rely on reading the street signs! xxx

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  9. I shall take your tip re buses! Although, if you could take a picture of your timetable and send it to me, that would be most helpful!

    The photos are wonderful!!x

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    1. Thanks, Kezzie. Hope the timetable helps you. xxx

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  10. It looks wonderful. Your dress looks so cool and I love the Durrell's noses! xx

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    1. I can't believe how cool that dress was to wear, 40 odd degrees and I didn't look at all crumpled and sweaty (despite feeling it!) xxx

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  11. All that sunshine, blue skies and fabulous photos have got me wanting a holiday in the sun. You are looking younger by the day missus, all that Greekness must agree with you.
    Love to you both xxx

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    1. I always say it was an accident at birth, being born in chilly old England!
      Corfu town is absolutely stunning, we quite flying over for a weekend there in the Spring. xxx

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  12. I love the brass noses!
    You can't beat those wonderful Greek salads, washed down with lager- bliss.
    Your dress looks wonderfully cool, perfect for the occasion, you look gorgeous. xxx

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    1. Those noses are fun, aren't they? We couldn't resist having a little rub, too. xxx

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  13. Lovely! Looks like you had a wonderfully relaxing time. The waters look amazing.

    Love your pom-pom basket : )

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Thank you, we did! Everything is better with pom poms. xxx

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  14. Oh, Mrs Vix! I'm sleeping flannel jammies up here and considering breaking out the cat's fleecy winter basket - I can't tell you how good it's been to look at all this sunshine.

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    1. Hasn't it been cold? It's like we've skipped from Summer to Autumn in the week we've been away! Hoorah for some sunshine yesterday. xxx

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  15. the outdoor cafes are a treat. You can sit all day. And I love how the wait staff will just set up another table....like magic....when the place fills up.

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    1. They are wonderful. I could have spent the entire week outside that taverna, eating every veg option in the menu. xxx

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  16. Your photos - and outfits! - are beautiful and bringing back many happy memories for me. Corfu was my introduction to Greece in 1976 (although it was cooler than the UK which was sweltering in the famous heatwave of that year!). I have been in love with Greece ever since. I have just been enjoying "The Durrells" on DVD, lovely escapism from all the dross on tv these days. Do read the books if you haven't already.

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    1. Hi Julia! That's a bit like the day we arrived, it was cooler than the weather we'd left behind!
      I loved My Family and Other Animals as a child - it's the main reason for us visiting Corfu. I didn't watch the recent ITV drama but found the 1980s BBC series with Brian Blessed and Imelda Staunton on Ebay so shell watch it soon. xxx

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  17. It's great to see you and Jon getting into the cultural spirit and wearing blue and white, it perfectly suits the scenery! Haha. Xxx

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    1. It's not like me to dress appropriately, is it?! xxx

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  18. Lovely pictures of those higgledy piggledy narrow streets, I love exploring! Your gingham dress is perfect, you look very relaxed. Loved The Durrells on tv recently which perked an interest in Greece; so think I would really enjoy a visit here myself.

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    1. I think you'd love it, Betty. Not sure how mad it would be in peak season but, like us, you're not tied to school holidays so could go when it's quieter. xxx

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  19. I'd give Lawrence & Gerald's noses a rub too! Looks lovely, we may have had a heatwave here but it doesn't compare to being away from home, with nothing to do but please yourself!

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    1. We had to give the noses a rub, too!
      It was actually cooler than the UK when we landed. Much as I love great weather at home nothing beats exploring another country does it? xxx

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  20. Sigh.......I love looking at that blue sea & all that sun reminds me of California. Plus it's DRY there which it certainly isn't during this Monsoon season here in Nepal. xox

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    1. Oh no, I don't envy you that rain. It's been miserable here since we got back but nothing to compare with your monsoon! xxx

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  21. Everything looks so serene and quiet. What a contrast to London. Just love all the shades of blue and you look just gorgeous in your blue and white dress. Glad I can be an armchair traveller though as 35 degrees would knock me out.

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    1. Its a joy to wander the traffic-free streets and not to see the same old chain stores that dominate our high streets, Sally! xxx

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  22. Absolutely nothing to do with your gorgeous holiday snaps but I was so delighted to hear that the New Gallery has received £3.5 million from the Arts Council over the next four years. More art!

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    1. I know! I'm thrilled to bits. I'm sure us signing that petition helped with us getting awarded Art Council grant. People power! xxx

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  23. Let me write carefully lest my compliment seem backhanded: Although you are famous for your disregard for "appropriate attire", Vix, your selections for personal appearances at travel destinations are spot on! Your regal maxis for the Stately Homes of England (or Wales) are as elegantly suitable for the scene as this crisp blue and white sundress is for Corfu. So lovely!

    And ah!, that Greek salad! We shall remind you of that food post promised...how can we create something like your hot weather menu chez nous?

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    1. Beth, I thought the same thing. I was very appropriately dressed in my blue and white maxi. All the smart boutiques in Greece had the same colours in their window displays.
      Food in the next post! xxx

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  24. I so enjoyed this virtual tour of Corfu Town. I wish you could have taken photos of some of the pieces in the Asiatic Art collection; it sounds wonderful. That is very sad that the man who spent his whole life collecting beautiful pieces was not able to retire in comfort and watch over his collection.

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    1. I wish pictures had been allowed, there were far too many staff around to risk breaking the rules. That collection - especially the clothes - was worth the trip to Corfu alone! xxx

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  25. This is a totally different Corfu to the one I imagined when I took many an aircraft full of lager louts there. Beautiful streets, skies, sea, scenery...need I go on? So interesting to read of Corfu's history and I enjoyed your stunning photos ....I do love a Greek salad. xxx

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    1. We drove through some of those places - although they weren't built up and soulless (like The Canaries) they were very Brits Abroad and deffo not our cup of tea!
      I'm very tempted to have a weekend in Corfu Town in the Spring, it really is stunning. xxx

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  26. Beautiful. I like the shiny noses! There is an owl on Dijon Cathedral which people stroke for good luck and it's been worn smooth over time [Facebook is a mine of information I find!]
    Arilx

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    1. I need to visit the owl! xxx

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  27. Looks like you enjoyed such perfect weather. Lovely, lovely photos. Your meal looks absolutely delicious!
    Thanks again for sharing.
    Robin

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    1. Thanks for reading, Robin! The food is incredible! xxx

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  28. Another interesting installment in your travel diary - thanks for sharing. I've been looking at flights! Your ultra cool maxi dress is perfect for the surroundings, so stylish xx

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    1. Oooh! I hope you get there, I know you'd love it. xxx

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  29. This is so interesting Vix. I'm really enjoying the history too. You look so elegant in all your photos. The food looks delicious, those salads though! Yum. 😋💕

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    1. Thanks, Cherre. I do love a bit of history, too. xxx

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  30. Gorgeous photos and what a gorgeous dress! X

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    1. Thanks, Mrs B! I'm so pleased I packed that dress, I never take white to India with me. xxx

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  31. Kérkyra looks like the perfect place to explore and get lost in. I love the maze of narrow streets and just looking at your delicious lunch is making me quite hungry ... Looking forward to your next installment. xxx

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  32. Those Durrell noses! Love the narrow streets (with and without the washing out!), gorgeous blue sky and your fab holiday outfit. Extra kudos for getting good use out of your Baddesley Clinton sourced vintage guide book! xx

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    1. Isn't it lovely that they can hang their washing out in a city centre and not have it grey with petrol fumes?! xxx

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  33. I had no idea there was such an impressive museum of Asian art on Corfu. It looks really lovely in your photos. Though 35 degrees would be too hot for me, I fear.

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    1. I reckon it would be a lovely destination for a Spring weekend break. The museum really was superb. xxx

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  34. lovely pictures and lovely place, quiet and charming!. Prices are not so cheap than I was expecting, but that's usual in touristic areas!, 25€ for a greek salad and some beer! you can have a three course meal and red wine for that price here!. Anyway, I would enjoy the magnificent city!
    besos

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    1. I know! That's three times what we'd pay for dinner, a couple of beers and gin and tonic in India! We couldn't afford to stay longer than a week. xxx

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  35. Gorgeous photos! I love everything in your stories, minus the heat. I don't think I could function in such temps, but definitely would visit in Fall or even Winter. Love the dress, dear! <3

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    1. Thanks, Natalia! It was hot but it wasn't humid, I think that's the killer! xxx

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  36. What a beautiful looking place, it looks so clean too, which probably sounds odd! I always like to see a place that is touristy but kept nicely xxx

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    1. It really was immaculate, no litter anywhere! xxx

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Love from Vix
xxx