Greek IslandsNov 27 - Day 5 - Corfu Greece
Corfu is the first Greek stop. A very close neighbour of Albania, which you could see across the waters of the Ionian Sea.
We took a risk on a local taxi driver - Kosta - we were well rewarded. What a great host, he drove a big black Mercedes, which looked good on the outside but had a few more rattles than the average Mercedes and popped out of first gear.
We couldn't have asked for a better guide, nearly three hours driving us around the island. Took us to a couple of interesting places that the sight-seeing bus wouldn't have. Kosta painted a fairly vivid picture of life in Greece at the moment. They are really hurting from the depressed economy - 11 years on from the GFC. Greater than 40% unemployment. Kosta told of his own troubles the economy had caused. He still managed to get his sons through university, however, and was very proud of them.
The Palace of Achilleion was quite breathtaking with painted ceilings and gorgeous furniture. Another age. The snack bar had no snacks - another indication of the poverty that abounds. The whole island had a special magical feel to it.
We drove through the old town, past the New Venetian Fortress and had a bit of a leg stretch in the shopping district. Then Kosta took us to the church his parents were married in and his sons were baptised in. It was an amazing old Byzantine building. We couldn’t go inside, but met with a charming old soul who picked flowers for us. Not the usual tourist trip.
Nov 28 - Day 6 - Sea day
Sleep in - coffee - eating - trivia - more eating.
Ali did a fantastic water colour of the old fortress in Corfu. (See picture)
I learnt to play 'Zorba the Greek' on a mandolin along with 9 others - out of tune - out of time - using wrong notes in the wrong place - otherwise perfect. I'll never be able to hear that tune again without smiling.
More eating - more sleeping followed by some more eating. And now we're going to bed.
Friday 29th - Day 7 - Rhode Island.
Another stunning Greek island bursting with rich history.
Greek Island history 101 for bumpkins:- approximately 2500 years ago a succession of everyones and anyones invaded and took over some or all of the Greek Islands and whoever was in control at any one time fought back and resisted best they could. Then after a period of time - it varies - it happened all over again until the present day.
We took a bus tour down the coast to Lindos which was half way down the island and so beautiful picturesque. Greek architecture is just like postcards - I’m guessing you'd be in trouble if you painted your house pink!
Pottery shop stop on the way back - amazing pottery but just not practical to buy. After lunch on board I set off on foot to explore the Old Town near the port. Lots of very old buildings and many many cats. It was a late sailing so did not get back to the ship until dusk.
Saturday 30th - Day 8 - Santorini.
Woke up to the sound of the anchor and without my glasses on, the top of the hills looked like they had snow on them - it was all the white Greek architecture sprinkled on the top of the cliffs - just like the postcards.
I walked up the 600+ odd steps (big steps). I could have got a donkey up but seeing the poor donkeys made me sad so I walked. The gondola wasn’t working because of the wind and Ali opted for a stay behind day. The walk up the steep cliffs was daunting.
Walked right past the tourist centre of town, unbeknown to me, and into the suburbs which suited me. I just love the buildings and churches. Most of the cars are Suzuki Alto, Smarts, Fiats or smaller! Yes they make cars smaller than that - you're average kiwi ute owner needs to see that you don't really need a Ford Ranger to hold your hard hat, your lunchbox and maybe a toolkit.
The tourist centre was quite nice once I’d found it as this was the end of the tourist season and not too crowded. I sat and ate my lunch that I had made from leftover Salmon and cream cheese from our complimentary room service breakfast that morning. In true Winchcombe disfunction I hate waste and ate both my Salmon stuffed rolls which seemed like about a half kilogram of Salmon - I couldn’t eat much at all for dinner that night!