Corfu is the 2nd largest Greek island and with the nations highest rainfall it is the greenest island. The landscape consists of beautiful hillsides covered in olive groves and cypress trees. It is one of the major olive producers of Greece with over 4 million trees. The coastline is riddled with spectacular bays and coves.
As you approach by ferry you are greeted by tall venetian style buildings that stand along the shoreline. Corfu looks remarkably different from the rest of the Ionian islands because it had such a heavy influence from the Venetians who controlled it for centuries. It also differs because it was never occupied by the Turks. It has other influences from the British, French and Romans.
The Liston is a grand building with an arched arcade and promenade. It was built as an imitation of the Rue de Rivolo in Paris during the time that the French occupied Corfu. Many fine cafes and restaurants occupy the bottom floor. The Liston borders a large square called the Esplanade or Spianada. Large trees create shady places where you can sit and enjoy the afternoon.
The Liston is where the locals come out to watch and be watched. Starting at about 9pm every night they get dressed to the nines to come and stroll the area. Even the little kids are smartly dressed. This town is as cosmopolitan as London, New York or any other trendy city of the like. We saw many people who looked like they could have been models. There seems to be a lot of wealth on the island. Or at least that’s the impression we were given with the fancy clothing we saw people wearing and the high end cars they were driving.
Exploring Corfu Town
The entire town seems to be built of stone, it is what all the streets and the sidewalks are made of. The architecture of the buildings is spectacular. It’s very sophisticated and charming. The old Venetian buildings with their beautiful architecture line the towns narrow streets.
There are many chic boutiques, shops and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to just wander around and soak up the atmosphere. Every corner we came around seemed to reveal another picture perfect street. We loved the outdoor cafe seating with colourful table cloths and chairs. The entire town is very sophisticated and charming.
The Old Fortress
The Old Fortress dates back to the 6th century when Corfu was part of the Byzantine Empire. It was reconstructed by the Venetians during their occupation of the island in the 15th century. A deep moat separates it from the town, you can reach it by walking across a sixty meter iron bridge. There is a little church at the top of the fortress that you can enter as long as you are wearing respectable clothing. You can get an amazing view of Corfu town from here.
Getting Used To The Greek Lifestyle
The lifestyle in Greece is something that we could easily adjust to. The locals have their evening meal quite late. Sometimes after 9pm or later. If you try to eat out in a restaurant earlier you may end up getting very indifferent service, or as we found they will tell you they are not serving food yet. Even the elderly seemed to be out with their families at late hours of the evening. In North America most people this age have taken a laxative and gone to bed by 8pm. We got strange looks when trying to order food at 7pm. The waiter asked if we would like to sit and enjoy some drinks first. We assumed the cook hadn’t shown up yet. We thought since the Greek people stay up so late they must sleep in, but they don’t. Most people start their day very early.
The motto of Greece seems to be not to worry about work too much. A lot of businesses still close down in the middle of the day for Siesta. We noticed some places run an erratic schedule of opening and closing whenever they feel like it. Spending time with family and friends, great food and wine and enjoying life at a slow pace are what is important in Greece. They don’t take life as seriously as we tend to in North America.
Life is still simplistic here. There are no huge grocery stores, they are just starting to show up in the larger cities. In most places you still go to the morning market to get your fresh produce, the local bakery for your bread and to the fish monger for the catch of the day. The little business still exists, it hasn’t been squashed by big box stores. We enjoyed seeing the bustle of the local market each morning. The farmers come in from the rural areas with the back of their trucks loaded with fresh fruits and veggies.
Heading For Some Beach Time At Paleokastritsa
It was a hard decision when it came to choosing what other parts of the island to see. We had so many choices, there are dozens of beach areas. We picked a spot at the northwest end of the island called Paleokastritsa. It is a picturesque village 26 kilometres northwest of Corfu Town. The area stretches along a coastal road that offers superb views of the coves. There are many different sandy and pebble beaches in the area. These beaches are famous for their dramatic scenery, beautiful colours and surrounding olive tree forests.
The island is not that big, you can easily take a day trip to any spot and be there by bus within an hour or two at the most. The bus ride took us past scenic views of cliff and ocean. When we arrived at the beach we booked a half hour boat tour that would take us to see some of the nearby coves.
This section of the island alone has over 15 beaches to choose from, we went past several of them on the tour. We also saw some spectacular rock formations. The water was so blue it didn’t seem real. The boat went inside a cave where an area had light coming from up from underneath the water. There was a circle of turquoise that seemed to be glowing. They call it the Blue Eye.
Instead of catching the bus at the beach we took a leisurely walk up the coastal road. We walked for about an hour and then caught the bus back to Corfu. It gave us an opportunity to enjoy the scenery at a leisurely pace and take pictures along the way.