Monday, 3 July 2017

A Greek Epic - Booze, Food, Fashion & A Road Trip



Meet George, our red Panda. There were loads of rental companies to chose from but when we spotted George Michael Car Rentals it just had to be done.


If we'd had more time we could have caught a bus to Kérkyra and jumped on one of the many long distance buses which connect to the island's interior but, as we only had a week, hiring a car for the day was the best option and at 40€, a lot cheaper than taking a taxi. Jon just had to keep muttering under his breath..... drive to the right, drive to the right.



Armed with a 1990s guidebook and a free road map from George Michael, we set off with a vague plan of touring the mountainous Northern region and checking out some of Corfu's well known tourist destinations to see how they compared to Paleokastrítsa.


Reaching the interior involved negotiating the perilously steep Trompeta Pass, which would have been bad enough in normal circumstances but driving on the wrong side of the road in front of a open truck full of uncaged live chickens hopping around and sporadically making a bid for freedom? Memorable to say the least!


At the first chance we got, we rewarded ourselves with an iced coffee and what a spot we chose, a hip cliff top bar called Seventh Heaven offering a spectacular view over Logas beach, known for its crumbling sandstone cliffs and clear turquoise waters. 


 Refreshed and ready for more we continued our climb through the mountains, stopping at the pretty rural village of Magoulades, virtually untouched by time. 


The strangest thing about this place is that there's a massive German torpedo slap bang in the centre of the village square. How and why is a mystery but as the inscription reads 1964 it has nothing to do with the war.


In fact I can't find anything out about the village at all but did discover an amazing village house for sale (HERE)..... if ever I needed an incentive to get the parental home sold! 




We passed through Sidari with its all you can eat Chinese buffets, Indian curry houses, Irish Pubs, sports bars, John Smiths Bitter and copies of The Sun on sale and, missing a turn somewhere along the way, ended up in Rhoda on the seafront where we dodged mobility scooters, read signs advertising bingo nights, pool and darts and All Day English Breakfasts. Our guidebook recommended the "unspoilt, Corfiot village" of Agios Stefanos for lunch but in the years since publication the village had developed into a fully fledged tourist resort and a Sunday Roast Dinner at the Beer O'Clock Pub failed to appeal (I don't eat roast dinners at home). Back to the map.


We continued to Kassiopi and had lunch in Taverna Levanda, a pretty whitewashed restaurant on the way to the harbour, surrounded by planters filled with flowers in all shades of purple. Now I'm home I've Googled it and discovered it's one of the top rated restaurants in Kassiopi (one thing I don't do on holiday is go near the internet).


Jon had the wild rocket, cherry tomato and Parmesan salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar and, as Parmesan isn't vegetarian, I stuck to a Greek salad. They came with a basket of bread, lavender butter and freshly made tapenade (olive pate). 


Kassiopi is renowned as a hip and happening party town and although we saw posters for UV & foam parties and Jägerbomb promos, on a sunny afternoon in mid-June it was a pretty place to wander (presumably the clubbers were still in bed).


We admired the remains of the Byzantine fort overlooking the town.


And stood in the footsteps of Pliny, Cicero and the Emperor Nero, all of whom are said to have sailed from Kassiopi harbour





We found a cat, basking languidly in the shade of the village's Byzantine church which had closed for the afternoon



We continued on to Kalami, best known as the home of Laurence Durrell's White House, made famous in Prospero's Cell.


The White House is home to an upmarket taverna and hotel and a beautiful spot although, as expected, heaving with tourists with crazy busy traffic throughout the village.


(Above) The White House in Lawrence Durrell's time and (below) on the day we visited.


We made our way back via The Golden Mile, aka the neighbouring resorts of Ipsos & Dassia, giggling at the fact that our clothes were older than the hoards of British teens who flock there.


Having explored a large part of Corfu we decided we'd made the right choice by staying at Paleokastrítsa. 



So how did we fare with the 15 kg luggage allowance? Just fine. I wore all five of my dresses (one of which I travelled in), my lace shawl (to visit the monastery) and both bikinis, my massive straw hat (not pictured), both pairs of knickers (flesh coloured and god ugly but pretty necessary under a see thru' frock), my Scandi clogs (which I wore to fly in thus saving on our baggage allowance), my silver Birkis, some metallic rubber flip flops (essential on those Greek pebble beaches) and all of my jewellery. 


From left: Uninhibited gingham maxi, Dollyrockers maxi, Sears, New York maxi (all vintage)


Printed frill top bikini (which, funnily enough, I'd admired on a website weeks earlier only to find it for £2 in a charity shop a few days before we left), an Elizabeth of Australia cotton halterneck maxi, a canary yellow string bikini and my Grecian-style rainbow stripe beach dress.

Jon wore both pairs of shorts & swim shorts (although there's only photographic evidence him wearing one pair), all five shirts and travelled in his skinnies and tee shirt.


From left: Tsunami print camo shorts (charity shop), Diesel embroidered shirt (from a car boot sale at least 15 years ago), tropical print swim shorts, pink tailored shorts and a hand loom Granddad shirt  he bought in India back in January.


A Zara cotton granddad shirt and Gabicci silk shirt (both charity shop buys) and a block printed cotton granddad shirt (bought in India). He wore both pairs of Birkenstocks (one with toe posts and the other without, to lessen the chances of blisters) and travelled in his trusty desert boots.

Other than food and drink we bought nothing (I'm sure there was stuff to buy but we tend to avoid shopping as we do so much of it for a living), we used up most of the toiletries and sun cream we packed and came home with a bag weighing in at less than 10 kg.


Food! I've already written about our self catered breakfasts and picnic lunches. We had lunch out twice during the trip and in both cases it was salad (and beer!) In the evening we ate at around 9.30 pm, like the locals. Greek tavernas aren't big on vegetarian main courses which was no bother as we ordered a few hors d'oeuvres and shared them, although I have to give a shout out to Gran Aladino who, on discovering I was vegetarian, insisted on making me a whopping plate of vegan gyros with chips, pitta bread, salad and hummus whilst Jon tucked into lamb kleftiko (he ate lamb gyros another night whilst I had a grilled veg starter so big I struggled to finish it). Over the week we dined on roasted aubergines, stuffed tomatoes and peppers, white beans gigantes, aubergine salad, cheese salad, mushroom sagnaki, courgette fritters and oven baked feta. Our award for best meal of the trip went to Flavor (photo below) whose griddled wild mushrooms in balsamic vinegar and croquettes made from white Kefalotyri cheese served on a courgette, broccoli and carrot fritata might possibly be the best Greek food I've ever eaten. No wonder it's is consistently voted the top restaurant in Paleokastrítsa.

Our favourite place to eat and conveniently located in an olive grove a short walk from our apartment.

Booze? Hell, yes! We bought a litre of Albatross white rum (made in Greece & not bad at all) from the supermarket on arrival (13€ ) along with a big bottle of light cola. We usually called in to the supermarket on the way from the beach and bought whatever beer was on the 1€ shelf which we drank on the balcony after a shower. With dinner we had beer (always Mythos) and the same in bars. We tried the local kumquat liquor - you'll see them growing everywhere in Corfu - mixed with Metaxa which wasn't as horrible as we thought it was going to be. The supermarket also sold locally made red, rose and white chilled wine on draught (4.50€ a litre, bring your own bottle) which we never got round to trying, after all, its good to have a reason to go back. 


Right, I've got a festival to pack for, a million blog posts to catch up on (I had an internet free weekend) and a team of workmen arriving in less than an hour. See you soon!

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.

90 comments:

  1. FIRST!!! Wow, I've never been first before!

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  2. Hi Vix, I love that you went exploring through the mountains. That seems so idyllic. Also, I love your rainbow dress, it's great to see how light you pack. Greek salads have never appealed to me, but after seeing your pictures with the massive piece of feta, I feel like making myself some for lunch! Xxx

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    1. Greek salads are the best - especially eaten in the sunshine. xxx

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  3. Greece is such a contrast between it's historical settings and natural beauty and the madcap boozy parties of the young. I went to Ipsos with a friend some 35 years ago to help her over a bad time. We didn't know we were on an 18-25 holiday till we got there. I'm not a party pooper but I hated it and couldn't wait to get back. Much nicer to see it now from your angle and well done Jon boy for negotiating the roads.
    Xxx

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    1. Tell me about it, I ended up on an 18 - 30 in Falaraki once, it was a nightmare! xxx

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  4. yes, Greek salad for lunch, shame the sun has decided not to come out today. It looks wonderful, and packing light, avoiding crowds, and shopping, sounds utterly perfect.

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    1. It made up for not getting Glasto tickets, that's for sure! xxx

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  5. Each blog got more spectacular that the others. What colours and what delicious food. Looks like Jon went in for a swim. Loved all your clothes,the rainbow one best.
    Will now look forward to hearing how your house is doing.
    Also congrats to Jon for driving. When I've been in Europe I have to close my eyes a lot. The first scream nearly made my daughter drive off the road. My brain just won't work that way.

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    1. Thanks, Sally! Those roads really are scary, no wonder there's so many shrines on every corner! xxx
      PS House going well, looking forward to doing a big reveal! xxx

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  6. The colors, the light, the food and the history. Greece is magical. You and Jon look marvelous - tanned and happy and sucking up the goodness. Love the black kitty, natch - she looks like my Stinky : > xox

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. Black cats are gorgeous, aren't they? I'm desperate to go and volunteer at a cat rescue place in Greece one day soon. xxx

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  7. Looks like a fabulous holiday, captured in some great photos. I'm desperately craving a proper Greek salad now, after seeing those in your pictures. As a fellow veggie, I've done the same as you when in Greece, and just ordered a selection of starters and sides - and usually had a very good meal as a result!

    My favourite of your dresses is the Dollyrockers maxi - I love the colours.

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    1. Hi Fran! Those starters are so good, aren't they? I'm craving a Greek salad now, I better see if Lidl's got any feta in. xxx

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  8. The food you ate was drool worthy!
    I love the dresses that made your final cut, all of them looked lovely.
    I recall Greek roads as being terrifying, I think I spent most of the time on them with my eyes shut; I wasn't driving :) xxx

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    1. Thanks, Sally! I was pleased with my final selection, too! xxx

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  9. Oh, swooooonnn......that blue water! What? No Chazzas to shop in Greece? (Just Kidding) I'm glad to know there are Indian restaurants in Greece. If I ever go with the Sheikh at least he won't starve to death!
    xox

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    1. I have heard there's an amazing flea market in Athens on a Sunday...hmmm, that'll be another trip!
      Not sure how the Greek Indian curry would go down with the Sheikh, I had one in Italy once and it really was awful! xxx

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  10. You two are SO cool! What marvelous sites and scenes...
    I like the way you pack and travel Very lightly. All contributes to focus on food, fun and fabulous experiences.

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca! Glad you enjoyed the trip. xxx

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  11. How wonderful, these pictures are fab and all of the detail is much appreciated! (Am put off Sidari now!!) Your dresses are amazing, I think the striped beach frock is my favourite. I have got as far as looking at flights... xx

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    1. When I was looking to book I was almost tempted with a deal to Sidari...until all four guidebooks I read said to avoid it like the plague! xxx

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  12. These photos really make me want to visit Greece. Those turquoise waters look heavenly.

    Taking a day touring the island seems like a wonderful way to pass a day.

    How fantastic that you stumbled upon such a great restaurant.

    You both did very well with your packing. All of your maxi dresses look like they were the perfect choice.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Thanks, Suzanne! I think you need a trip to Greece, my photos don't do it justice, the sea is so clear, I just wish it hadn't been so cold. xxx

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  13. Corfu was lovely! Glad you were able to enjoy the food of Greece too. We had some amazing meals. I hope to go back one day. So funny about George. Was the road very very narrow there too?

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    1. The main roads were brilliant, much better than the ones in the UK, but negotiating those mountains was a bit hairy! xxx

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  14. What a wonderful trip, even if some of the 90s guidebook tips seem to be outdated. Must have been scary negotiating that pass driving on the "wrong" side of the road (had a good chuckle at that one), especially with Jon's vertigo! Somehow, I can't get the image of the open truck full of chickens out of my head ... You're both looking stylish, and I'm admiring Jon's pink shorts. Wonder if I can get Jos to wear a pair like that ... xxx

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    1. Jos would rock the pink shorts, Jon's worn his so often he'll need a second pair soon!
      Those roads! Jon did well! xxx

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  15. Your photos are stunning - it helps that you were in a stunning place. I'm used to seeing you on Indian beaches, so it's a shake-up, welcome too, to see you both out hitting the road in new places. With this kind of coverage you could be travel writers. All the best transitioning back to home life, not that it's any less adventurous.

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    1. I know, it was strange not to be on an Indian beach and being able to walk straight into the sea and swim without squealing! xxx

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  16. You both managed to look Look fantastically stylish and cool (in both senses of thew word). Your photos had me captivated by all the white cliffs and blue sea. I kept wondering when the sword-fighting skeletons were going to appear! Luckily, you didn't have to fight off any harpies for your lunch either.

    Wish I could have been there-looks like a wonderful place to visit.

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    1. Jason and The Argonauts! I grew up thinking Greece was just like it. xxx

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  17. Beautiful photos, and you look stunning especially in the first pic of you with the iced coffee. Your dresses are amazing. I've never been to Greece before, but it looks very much like the area of Turkey we went to so I can really appreciate how beautiful it must be there.

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    1. Thank you! I've only been to Turkey a couple of times but it is similarly beautiful - and the people are just as welcoming. xxx

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    1. Thank you!! Dollyrockers made the best dresses! xxxx

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  19. Your little red Panda was sooo cute! I would not do well in a car on those winding mountainous roads, even as a passenger. Greece looks like I expected it to, at least in your photos, which are lovely. Thank you for the vicarious vacation. I'm on vacation this week, but it's a Staycation.

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    1. Hope you had an amazing staycation, Shelley! That Panda was adorable, such a nice ride - despite the roads! xxx

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  20. You two sure know how to have fun -- and your pictures are gorgeous!

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    1. Hello Alex and thank you! xxx

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  21. More ahs and sighs... Thank you, Vix, for sharing your adventures. Fabulous photos of this beautiful place and stories and history. I love the Seventh Heaven name :) You looking gorgeous and sun kissed, Jon relaxed and definitely on holiday... And I can see you in the beautiful house for sale (hope for a very very big sales day at a festival for the deposit - a holiday house!). I also don't go near the internet when on holidays. Yes, it means catching up when you get home but holidays are for being absolutely in the moment, I think - your own moment - well done you. But please fill me in, what are "foam parties"?... xx

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    1. Argh..,. foam parties (so I've heard) are a disco filled with soap suds and home to all sorts of antics. Not me at all! xxx

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  22. this looks formidable and totally like a perfect railroad keepers holiday!
    will you mind if we follow your traces one day??
    your vintage/2.hand attire are fab - your dresses and jon´s grandpa shirts are trés chic...... and i love greek food, esp. the sheep/goat cheese, kalamata olives and filled grape leafs. and grilled oktopus!
    xxxxx

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    1. You know, I thought of the railroad keepers when we were there, it seemed so much like your kind of holiday and there's a beautiful campsite in Paleokastritsa, too! xxx

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  23. It all looks so lovely. The resorts sound like my vision of hell, but the rest of it looks fantastic. And that salad makes me feel hungry...

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    1. The only good thing I can say about the Brits Abroad resorts is that they're not built up and ugly like The Canaries. They're my idea of hell (although I think I'd hate an all inclusive, Brits sitting around the pool all day moaning even more!) xxx

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  24. I agree with you, Mim! ^ I must have been feeling inspired as I've had a proper Greek salad this week and a tomato and greek salad cheese salad (didn't have the olives/cucumber). Greek is my fave next to Italian Caprese!

    Looking gorge, missus!

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    1. Donna! Long time, no see! Fab to hear from you. xxx

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  25. ohhh, yes, so much fabulousness!, love all those sunny landscapes, the olive trees, the atmosphere, the anecdotes (mwhaha, that open truck!), and love that you look so fabulous in your pictures, enjoying the sunshine, the food and the fun!. Glad that you picked a good place to stay!
    besos

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  26. You should take up travel writing for a living, Vix. I was with you all the way in the post - I could actually feel the hot sun on my shoulder...

    It seems an idyllic place - if you know where to avoid!

    I loved all your outfits - and Jon's; what an ace pair of travel packers you both are!

    Hope your weekend is going well.

    xxx

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    1. You are kind, Veronica! I do love travel writing. xxx

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  27. I agree with Veronica, you write brilliantly about the places you visit and take wonderful photos....I just love your shots of Magoulades. Greek roads are treacherous, I drove all around Kefallinia, the cliffside roads protected by the flimsiest of wire fences, it is insane. No wonder they have so many religious statues by the sides of the roads...the patron saints of RTA's I named them.
    I adore that rainbow beach dress...just stunning! Sounds like you really enjoyed this holiday, I hope you return. xx

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    1. Those sheer drops really are scary, I was sitting with my eyes closed for large parts of the journey! xxx

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  28. Looks so fabulous. I would love to visit Greece. It always looks so fantastic. Xx

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    1. Thanks, Louise! Greece is beautiful, even the Brits abroad towns are pretty! xxx

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  29. Vix, you look fabulous in all of your sundresses! And Jon is as stylish as ever - you were the best dressed couple I bet! Were you ever mistaken for a local, with your dark long hair and nice tan?

    The natural beauty, the views, the ancient remnants, along with fresh local food make Greece an irresistible place to visit. I am so happy for you that you took this vacay! And taking time off sales and the Internet was a very smart move.

    Lots of love!

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    1. Thanks, Natalia! Nobody ever believes I'm a Brit! xxx

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  30. Great trip! Love that striped beach cover! :)

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  31. I've never been to Greece but am so tempted by your gorgeous photographs. I love both yours and Jon's outfits and the food... yum! Thank you for sharing your holiday with us! Have a fantastic week xx

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    1. You should, Greece is gorgeous (and full of cats!) xxx

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  32. you rented a car and lived to tell. A friend of mine who did study abroad in Greece for 3 summer told me before our trip: DON'T RENT A CAR!!!!!!!! Good to know you guys didn't almost get driven for the road by a really bad driver.

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    1. Apparently it's not too bad unless you do it in July & August when it's the main tourist season and the roads are full of crazed Europeans (especially Brits)! xxx

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  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  34. Thanks for showing us those wonderful Greek salads, just as the tomatoes are ripening here in the Midwest. You're inspiring me to put my hair up, dig out the outsized vintage sun glasses, hit the produce bins and Olive Pit at Jungle Jim's (and the Greek cheese section) and schedule a patio lunch. Shall have to investigate Mythos beer -- The Jungle has an extensive "foreign brews" selection.

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    1. Do it, do it! I wonder if you can get Mythos in the States? It's really good, not too fizzy. xxx

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  35. Thanks for showing us Greece through your lens. I'm inspired to try Greek vegetarian recipes at home now.

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    1. My pleasure! Thanks for visiting, Holly! xxx

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  36. Hats off to Jon for driving on the (wrong) other side of the road, and through what I can only imagine were pretty hairy Greek mountain roads! Beautiful photos, that sea looks amazing, so clear, your meals look mouthwatering and all of your outfits are fab! We buy only the basics on holiday as well, can't see the point in dragging home things you are bound to regret buying when you get home xx

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    1. He was brave, his fear of heights is legendary! xxx

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  37. OMG the griddled wild mushrooms sound divine! Your gorgeous photos remind me why I used to love visiting Greece, but I know that some of the places I stayed have now been completely spoilt so I wouldn't want to revisit those and taint my memories. I'd have to go somewhere different. x

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    1. My toes still curl when I think about those mushrooms, they were incredible!
      I know what you mean about revisiting places. We loved Pelion on the Greek mainland when we visited 18 years ago, I'd love to go back but I'm scared! xxx

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  38. It looks like you had an amazing holiday! Corfu is definitely on my list of places to visit xx

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    1. It really is gorgeous, we loved it. xxx

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  39. Ooh, am loving that beautiful cliff! It looks so nice! The food looks and sounds amazing though I don't think I could cope with that much feta!! Your dresses fit right in and look gorgeous!!

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  40. Always love your travel photos. The views and the food are breathtaking! I love Greek cuisine and these pix are really making me want to visit Corfu. As far as packing, you are the master! Keeping it light, but still manages to look smashing.

    Theresa

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    1. Thanks, Theresa! I'm so looking forward to reading about your life on the road! xxx

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  41. You both look great but are completely upstaged by the gorgeous scenery. It looks like an lovely place and so nice to get away from the egg 'n; chip bars and out into the real Corfu. I was chortling at the mobility scooters as it reminded me of the TV program "Benidorm". I love all your maxi dresses, especially the halter neck beauty. The food sounds and looks too good. Wow, what a great place. Xx

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    1. Benidorm was exactly what we thought when we drove through those places.We loved where we stayed, not sure how we'd have fared in Little Britain! xxx

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  42. It looks so lovely! You and Jon have the best clothes too Vix. You both look fabulous. Along with the food by the way.
    Have a good week!
    Robin

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    1. Thanks, Robin! That's a huge compliment coming from someone who shares such incredible road trips themselves! xxx

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  43. I'll never understand why people go away on holiday and then partake in English food and drink, why not stay at home? I remember seeing a couple who had relocated to Spain, their house was basically any old council house on the inside, wall to wall carpet, sideboard filled with ornaments, it was so bizarre!

    The clubbing mentality appals me too, I just cannot relate to that sort of thing. I'm glad you saw the real place xxx

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    1. I know, surely the whole point of going abroad is to experience different things not eat English food, read The Sun and sit around a pool with a load of other Brits. Its my idea of hell! xxx

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  44. Having visited Corfu for many years, it's great to see your take on it! We always stay in Acharavi and it's beautiful 😊

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    1. We never visited Acharvi - we'd looked at it on the map and taken a wrong turn somewhere by Roda. Next time! 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