Arriving at Acharavi, our first destination on the island of Corfu, had been a bit of a journey. Starting with the eleven hour train ride across Italy, we had a layover in Brindisi, before flying to Athens, and then, with our rental car, driving northwest to the village. We left Corfu town, with the aid of a GPS, travelling over curvy mountain roads with almost non-stop hairpin turns, our little, white Nissan rarely got out of first or second gear.
Staying in a studio apartment, near the water, our hostess had a complementary bottle of wine chilling in the refrigerator upon our arrival. Sitting out on our balcony, glass of wine in hand, we had a beautiful view of the clear, turquoise waters with mountains, wrapping around the cove, in the distance. Walking the beach, we discovered new rocks for our growing collection, along this tops-optional beach. Just leave it to say, that some bodies are better covered up. We stopped at Maestros beachfront restaurant for a bite to eat, Greek Salad, with the creamy feta, sweet tomatoes and tangy black olives, followed by a layered shooter, grenadine, lemoncello, and ouzo. Yum! We are really in Greece!!
On exploring the town, we located a fish market, and snagged some sea bass and sardines for dinner. Alan hopped behind the counter to filet the fish, when the woman explained she didn't know how to do it. Accustomed to eating the whole fish, filleting was not a necessary skill. Obviously very fresh, both fish were sauteed in lemon butter and were excellent, even the sardines once I figured out how to eat it properly, so I wasn't choking on the bones. This was a new eating skill, holding the tiny sardine by the tail, put it in my mouth, and then sliding my teeth along the skeleton, to extract the bones and leave the fish behind. Alan wasn't as curious.
Moving the next day to Arillas, we stayed in a small studio a few blocks from the water, but still had a waterview from our second story room, due the elevation. Vibrant bogenvillas, assorted other flowers and a vegetable garden graced the property. Once again, we had the gorgeous turquoise waters. But what we were discovering in Greece, more than the beauty of the country itself, was the beauty of the people. Firstly, almost everyone we dealt with spoke some English, many of them spoke it very well, which, from our perspective made everything easier, but the generosity, helpfulness, laughs, easy smiles were something we experienced time after time.
Across the street from our hotel, a small business advertised "homemade, natural Greek products made by George's mom." We never met George or his mom, but George's father, Zoren, was a delightful man, probably in his eighties. After visiting the store once, we became instant friends. Extolling the virtues of his wife's cooking, he went on to explain a leaf wrapped package in a bowl on the counter. Figs, grown on their trees, are set in the sun for 5-6 days, then cut in strips, then dried again, then chopped and combined with spices and ouzo, the mixture is shaped into a thick disc and wrapped in grape leaves. After tasting it that evening, we went back the next day to buy another. We'll probably never see this item again, but it was heavenly! She also made a wonderfully mild feta, and probably the best olives we have ever had the opportunity to eat. We ate a good-sized jar in less than 24 hours, and would have bought more if there had been a morsel of room left in our backpacks!
Following dinner at a local seafood restaurant that advertised freshly caught fish from their own vessels, we inquired about the marina. The next day, we drove over to San Stephano, the small village over the mountain, was home to the fishing boats. The picturesque harbor was lined with boats, many strung with finely meshed netting, perfect for the sardines and smaller mackerel caught in these waters.
Driving into our final destination on Corfu, Paleokastritsa, we were blown away by the fantasic views as we came into the popular area. The three towns we selected on Corfu are all tourist-oriented, but this is the largest, with the road running on the cliffs overlooking the water, spectacular. After settling at our hotel, we wandered down to the waterfront and arranged a short boat tour of the waterfront. Numerous caves dot the steep, rocky coast, and tranquil turquoise water, leading out to the deep blue, made for a nice outing. Having checked the water temperatues at each stop, we found it to be surprisingly cold. After sunning for a bit, though, Alan decided to blunge into the bracing waters along the shore. I decided it was an experience I could live without.
Returning the car at the airport in Corfu town, the following morning, we flew to our next stop, Athens.