Fri, Oct 1
A gray and rainy morning, we packed our trunks and drove away through the multicoloured autumnal landscape. When we came more to the south there are a greater selection of decidous trees than in Haelsingland where we have mostly birches and rowans. We arrived at the house of our son in the evening in order to make a short visit before the Greek holiday.
Sat Oct 2 was a day together with our grandchildren.
Sun Oct 3
After an early dinner we left for the airfield. Some trouble made a delay but at midnight the plane landed on the airport of the Greek island of Corfu. I tried to read the signs in Greek letters, it is always interresting to see how much you can recognize. The transfer bus took us up to Hotel Socrates in Peroulades on very winding roads. The sky was filled with stars but otherwise we could see nothing.
We arrived at two o'clock Greek time in the night. In our room we found bread an other things for our first breakfast, very nice. !
Mon Oct 4
A sunny morning and we had our breakfast on the balcony with sea view. The light and shade over the Albanian mountains on the other side of the sea was always changing.
We went to an information meeting, bought stuff for our next breakfast and then I had a swimming tour in the hotel pool. The shore was very sheer so I did not manage to walk down. After that we had a nice time on our balcony, looking at the brown hens and black turkeys which were feeding on the grass at the neighbouring place.
Our dinner we had at Maria Beach a nice place overlooking Sidari and the sea. They performed Greek dances during the meal. We had tzatziki (yogurt sauce with cucumber and garlic) and sofrito (a meat stew with vegetables). We always try to have local food when we are on our travels.
Tue Oct 5
We woke up hearing the rumble from thunder, there were lightning and a gray haze over the sea.
We had reported that we wanted to join a bus trip to Corfu town and we were lucky, the rain didn't start until we had embarked the bus. But people joining nearer the goal got soaked. The road from Sidari to Corfu town runs over a mountain range, winding in serpentine bends up and down again. We could have nice views over the valleys and small villages and the surronding hills. The hills are mostly covered with olive trees and from this grey-green mass points the tops of cypresses.
A local guide joined in when we arrived at the town. At first we went to Achillion, a former summer palace on a hill in the neighbourhood of the village Gastouri. We learned a lot about the history of the palace and its owners. Afterwards we were able to take a walk around the grand garden as the rain had just stopped. Statues and flowerbeds and blooming bushes. The most well known statue is that of the dying Achilleus. We had a fascinating view over the town of Corfu from the garden terrace. Then we boarded the bus again and it went by very winding roads down to the sea shore and then followed the coast road and passed two monastery islands in the bay of Kanoni, Pondikonosi and
Vlakhérna. When we arrived into Corfu town the bus parked below the old fortress. Our guide took us to over the Esplanade to Liston and gave us a short summary of what is worth seeing in the centre of the old town of Corfu and told us the time we had to assemble at the bus again.
"witness the narrow alleys of Corfu town" was written in the inviting to the tour, so we could not expect more, but I was a little disappointed with the guiding in this town. We went into the old town, had lunch on a Corfiotic cheese pie at a snack bar and after that we strolled among the shops in the alleys.
The busride home followed the east coast up to Gouvia and then over the mountains on those winding hill roads again. We had opportunity to watch a blasting work in a quarry on the road downhills - the bus had to stop when they did the blasting. In the evening we had dinner at Three Little Pigs and ate kleftico a dish made of slices of lamb meat in a spicy sauce.
Wed Oct 6
We had a tranquil day at the hotel, climbed the cliffs and admired the view and the steep sandstone cliffs with their astonishing apperances, among others the so called Canal d'amour. I tried to see if I could recognize some herbs, but there were not many species this time of the year. Heather, blackthorn, brambles...
Photos from the area around the hotel with the cliffs.
In the evening we had fried fish snapper and a tomato salad at the hotel restaurant The Rock
Thu Oct 7
At dawn a rainbow stood over the sea and the moon in shape of a boat was to be seen on the sky. In Sweden the moon is like a crecent but here it is like a boat.
We joined a bus tour around the northern part od the island, in the beginning along the northern coast through small villages and by hills covered with olive trees. Nice gardens with roses and other flowers, fruit trees with apples and koumquat. The sea view over Albania was fantastic. The first stop was in the little village of Kassiopi, which has been a fishing village but now is dominated by the tourists. I just wonder how it is during the high season when there were so many people now... In the bus again we were driven along the east coast, passing Kouloúra, where the authors Gerald and Lawrence Durell lived in a white villa by the sea. This part of the road was very scenic where it passed under the high mountain Pandokrator and by the narrow strait between Albania and Corfu. At the sea side resort Gouvia the bus went inland and had a stop by a ceramics shop where a married couple made nice pottery in well according colours, and later a stop at Makromatis, a place where we were invited to see and taste products of the fruit koumquat which is grown only here on northern Corfu. It is an orangefruit, very tiny. They make liqueur from the flowers and the fruits, they make candied fruits and dried fruits, preserved fruits, marmelade etc.
Our trip went to the west coast and the goal was Paleokastritsa, a place situated at the clear west sea around Corfu at the feet of a high mountain. On top of a hill on a promontory is a Greek-Orthodox monastery where we visited the chapel and the museum which holds icons and things used in the divine service made of gold and silver etc. The custom is not to enter a Greek-Orthodox church with bare legs. For that reason you find skirts at the porch. So I took a flowery one and the result is on a photo...
After lunch a breathtaking tour on a really winding road up to a village Lakonis and a place of view Bella Vista 280 metres above sea level. The sight of the sea and Paleokastritsa was fascinating, but it was likely as fascinating to see the small villages and the houses around the narrow streets. Next stop in Makrádes where they sold lots of nice handicraft and other local products: olive oil, embroideries, crocheted and knitted things, herbs, spices, preserves, honey, and lots more. The rest of the tour was along the top of the hills with view at the sea on both sides. Our guide demonstrated some herbs used for spicing and relieving purposes which she had picked at the last stop: lavender, basil, bay, majoram and some others. The olives are the most important crop on the island, nearly all hills are covered by those trees. The second harvest of the year was due at the end of October.
Some pictures from our touring day.
Back at the hotel we were met by really hard wind and the wawes were high foaming against the cliffs. For dinner this evening we had a Greek salad and a nicely spiced dish made of chicken, don't know the Greek name of that dish.
Fri Oct 8
A very windy morning. The sun rose at exactly eight o'clock and set at about eight in the evening. A sign of that this place is situated very much to the west in the actual time zone as we are nearly after autumnal equinox. Dusk and dawn were fairly long, which I had not expected. But probably you have to be even more to the south to experience the sudden darkening which I remember from Jordan.
This day we mostly spent on the balcony, reading. Dinner we had at Three Little Pigs again eating stamna a beef dish with onion in a spiced sauce. They performed Greek fire dancing.
Sat Oct 9
Venus, the planet, was shining in the sunrise direction. As usual I spent the daybrake observing and following the more and more golden gleam on the sky. An aeroplane passed appearing like a shimmering jewel.
We made a slow walk, crossed the bridge and went up through Sidari on the main road which is said to be crowded in the season. We really enjoy to be able to travel during off high season times. None of us like either heat or crowds. The smell of fresh bread from a bakery tempted us to walk in and have a cup of coffee. Our way back we took along the sandy beach. It seems to be shelving. No cliffs in Sidari as in Peroulades. But you can see the cliffs of Peroulades from Sidari beach - the places are neighbouring.
The rest of the day we spent on our balcony and at the poolside, where we had lunch, the Greek dish moussaka. Of course you ought to taste Greek food when in Greece! Dinner at Maria Beach where we enjoyed lots of Greek dancing. They try to inspire the guests to join in.
Sun Oct 10
We spent the day sunbathing, swimming and at last I did find a place where I was able to manage to get over the cliffs and reach the sea. So I could bathe my feet in the sea. It should have been very distressing to have lived a whole week by the sea not having been in the salt water at all...!
At eight thirty in the dark evening the bus came for the transfer tour to the airfield in Corfu. When we had left the mountains and the narrow and winding roads our guide told us the following story:
A clergyman dies and is waiting in line at the Pearly Gates.
Ahead of him is a guy who's dressed in sunglasses, a checked multicoloured shirt and jeans.
Saint Peter addresses this guy,
"Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?"
The guy replies, "I'm Spiro, bus driver, of Corfu."
St. Peter consults his list.
He smiles and says to the bus driver,
"Take this silken robe and golden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
The bus driver goes into Heaven with his robe and staff, and it's the clergyman's turn.
He stands erect and booms out, "I am Pater Joannis, priest of St Spiridon for the last forty-three years."
St Peter consults his list.
He says to the priest,
"Take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
"Just a minute," says the priest.
"That man was a bus driver, and he gets a silken robe and golden staff. How can this be?"
"Up here, we work by results," says Saint Peter.
"While you preached, people slept; while he drove, people prayed."
Our guide told it to us when we had left the last mountains and were on the plain road back to the airfield on our way back home.....
Mon Oct 11 The flight was without any adventures and we landed at Arlanda by Stockholm at two o'clock in the night, Swedish time.
This holiday was different as we never had stayed at a so called seaside resort before. To be lying at a beach on sunbeds is not quite our habit, and my remark is that it is nowadays physically impossible as I cannot reach those low beds, and even if I had managed to lie down I should never had been able to get up again... Too stiff old joints! Swimming is my melody.
This late in the season there were few wild flowers, some yellow ones, I don't know the English names, some rush and giant reed, no botanical studies for me this time. The scenery was dominated by olive forests covering the hills and cypresses sticking up over the tree tops of the olive trees. Higher up the hills were more barren and the vegetation was macchia, dry bushy vegetation.
There was a mountain range to the south and that contributed to the beaty of the place. The mountains in Albania on the other side of the sea were shifting colours all day - I was really fascinated by the changes by shade and light on these macchia covered chalk mountains variating during the hours of the day. And white ships passed along the Albanian mountain range, trafficing the route between Brindisi and Kerkyra - Igoumenitsa.
The hotel was nice and clean, the temperature hold between 20°and 25° C in daytime and down to 15° at night, that is just what we like. We cannot stand too hot days. The sun was shining all days except Tuesday morning when we had thunder and heavy rain some hours. We were very lucky having so many sunny days.
The most disturbing was the mosquitos, I never saw them and did not observe when they hurted me, but they have given me large itching swellings as I am a bit sensible for some kind of those insects.