Destination: Corfu

June 22, 2009 at 11:56 am Leave a comment

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Corfu.  I hadn’t heard of it before we researched the trip, so I had no idea why we were visiting the place.  Turns out that it’s a beautiful Greek island – but very different from, say, Mykonos or Santorini.  Although the towns on Corfu aren’t as charming, the people are nice, there’s plenty to do, the food is good, and the scenery is outstanding. 

Getting There
Cruise ship: Obviously, you can get there via cruise ship as we did.  We were glad to have visited on a cruise.  It was super easy, and we enjoyed spending the day there.  Although I could absolutely have spent several days to a week there, I was also satisfied with just spending the day.

Flying: Corfu has an international airport, so you can fly there.  Airlines regularly flying there: Aegian, Air Berlin, British Airways, GermanwingsOlympic, and TUIfly.  There are a number of other airlines offering seasonal flights as well.

Ferries:  There are regular ferries between Corfu and Igoumenitsa and Patras.  You may also catch a ferry from points in Italy – Venice, Bari and Ancona.  Remember, if you don’t book your ferry ticket in advance, you might not make it on the one you plan to take.

Getting Around
Rental cars:  Be aware that, technically, an international drivers permit is required.  (I can’t believe we didn’t have one!  Ugh!)  If you get one, make sure you don’t end up with a fake; go to AAA.  I checked out renting a car in advance but didn’t pull the trigger since I wasn’t certain we’d want to drive ourselves around.  Although we had no problem renting a car from Royal Car Rental right there at the dock, it would’ve been cheaper for us to have rented it in advance.  I think we made a good choice in renting – we got to see a lot on our own time without worrying about dealing with taxis or buses.

Buses: “KTEL, or the Green Bus Service is the National Express of Greece and serves the island as a whole, and runs some direct routes to major cities on the mainland. Information about connecting routes to other mainland cites can be obtained from the central bus station in Corfu Town. In recent years they have been replacing their fleet with modern air-conditioned vehicles and are comfortable and cheap.” –CorfuNet.com

Things to Do and See
Paleokastritsa Monastery:  It’s thought that this monastery was established in the 1200s, but the present buildings date only to the 1700s.  If the religious icons aren’t of interest for you, the charming gardens against the pretty buildings, amazing views, and sweet cats might be enough to tempt you to make the trip.  We really enjoyed our visit.

Paleokastritsa Beach: After visiting the monastery, we spent the remainder of our morning on this beach.  It was pretty and convenient.  There were plenty of lounges to rent and several cafes nearby.  We enjoyed lunch with a sweet companion in one of them, and then returned to our lounges for a bit.  We did get in the water, and OHMIGOSH it was cold.  Coldest water of the trip by far.  Be advised that the beach is rocky, so you might prefer to wear water shoes if you’re going swimming here.

Caves and private beaches:  You can take a boat ride to see caves or to visit secluded beaches that can only be reached that way.  There are two operators who leave from Paleo.  Last summer, the Captains’ Club offered boat rides to the caves for €8, €10 to a beach, or €12 to both.  Boatmens Association of Paleokastritsa offers the exact same deals and leaves… from the exact same place.  My mom and aunt went on one of these boat rides and had a blast.

Angelokastro: This is Paleokastritsa’s castle.  We didn’t make it here, but it looks like fun based on other people’s photos.  What held us back?  It’s reportedly a very steep 10-15 minute walk up from the car park, and we wanted a lazy day.  Those who do make the climb are rewarded with wonderful views.

Achilleon Palace: This palace, located in the village of Gastouri, was built in 1890 for Elizabeth, the Empress of Austria.  A lot of tourists go through here more to see the shooting location of the James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only.  As I understand, the gardens are well-worth the visit, but many don’t care too much for the palace itself.

Aqualand:  If we had been visiting for several days or more, we might have considered visiting the island’s much hyped water park. 

Images: All the photos in this post are from my personal collection (see a few more here).  People in the photos are my BFF Ami of Elizabeth Anne Designs, her husband, my husband, and me.

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Entry filed under: CenturyClub, Cruisin', Destinations, Europe, Planes, trains, autos, boats.

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