THE BEST OF CORFU: #7

Corfu in the early morning rain.

Corfu in the early morning rain.

The title describes the tour we took. I will suggest that you be mindful of any tour or really anything that has the “best of” in its description.  This was a jam packed all day tour, so you only have a little time on the bus from place to place for sitting down time, which is a test of endurance that should be inflicted only on the much younger. I did hear complaints of aching and tiredness as the tour progressed from the youth as well.

We followed a little lovely girl with a sign saying  #1. Did I mention there were fifty of us? Oh well, there were until the very end.  We didn’t lose a single one.  When with big groups it is hard to stick with everyone because sometimes you cannot hear, people crowd way up too close, the WC is crowded with line-ups and the most disconcerting thing to me was the traveler’s cough. I haven’t noticed it before the bus tour. Please allow me a moment of time out to piss and moan.

The bus was full of red nosed, coughing, spitting, nostril running, hacking, blowing, gagging, huffing people, and I was just waiting for the whopper of vomit when thanks be to God it did not occur. Skip did not hear the coughing and he thought I was again, overreacting.  So each time there was a grunt, sputter, crackle, spit or guttural sound, I would give his arm a clunk. Finally when he was black and blue. He said, “That is enough, I hear it.”  I mention this because this kind of thing gets to my very core.  So thanks for the sideline.

Again, we were lucky because it had rained hard in the early morning hours, but for our tour it was only the ground that was still wet.  We had to be careful.  Our first stop after you enjoy a coastline drive, passing six small cove beaches, is the Museum and Palace of Achillion.   This beautiful building and grounds is of Pompeian style and was built by the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary Elizabeth, called Sissy.  She gave the name Achillion to honor Homer’s hero Achilles.  You know of Achilles tendon fame.

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One of the stories told along the way: There is a very happy couple living in the countryside in their home, in their grove of olive trees.  God sees them and comes down to ask them if they are happy with their lives. They both answer, “Yes we are very happy with our lives.” God wanted to know why they were so happy with so little. They said that they have each other, and they have food from their trees, if it is cold they can burn the wood from their olive trees, they can build their home with the olive wood and they can make beautiful furniture from olive tree wood.  God said, is there anything I can do for you” They both agreed that they wanted to be buried side by side, and they were. This is the reason that when the olive tree grows the trunk splits in two showing the happiness of the couple living in and amongst their olive trees.

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We were to have a leisurely drive through Paleokastritsa village on our way to the Virgin Mary Monastery, inhabited by monks, founded in 1228 to present day.  The concept is lovely, but the bus driver sped so fast through all villages, they became a blur, a blurb, and a blip of what could have been luscious eye candy. I noticed those around me were holding tightly to the handles provided. Pretty soon your head began to swim, so with your eyes closed you are driven through scenes, past and present, with a future to come when you are long gone.

The visit inside the Monastery proved beautiful and wonderful, but revealed a human behavior in all of us, monastic or not is that we have a temper only to be touched upon. One monk holding a bag banged vigorously on a door that would not open. He did not give up and his pounding became more and more angered, as the pounds were not answered.  We moved on as I pondered humanity at all levels.

We noticed that women have donated their precious jewelry to the church and it is on display under glass. Many cats lounge comfortably and well fed on the premises.

Everyone was handed candles to light, but had them taken back if no money was donated.  I was moneyless and honest to gosh, that twit took my candle back.

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Hunger was setting in and we were promised lunch at a winery located in the foothills of central Corfu.  There was an outside setting with a traditional Greek luncheon.  It was explained that in Greece they are harshly treated by the economy, but we should notice that they have good, plentiful food and are well fed. True.  Local dancers presenting traditional dances, dressed traditionally as well, entertained us.

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Now it was time to see the Venetian influenced town of Corfu. It is beautiful, but much in need of repairs due to rotting and crumbling buildings. Even with repairs needed, this attractive town is picturesque as you wander through the narrow streets with hidden squares and wonderful free Wi-Fi at M.C. Donald’s. The souvenir shops dominate the entrance of the town and one must travel a little further afield to enjoy some of the towns other charms.

We understand today Corfu’s largest export is olive oil and the main source of income is tourism. Thank God for the olive oil and the almighty tourist because the unemployment rate in Greece is 30% and the unemployment rate for males between the range of 25 and 35 years old is 50%. Daunting.

My favorite photo! What do you see??

My favorite photo! What do you see??

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