Corfu April 12, 2016
i have internet so I will try to catch up on a couple posts.
We arrived in Corfu with no plans. The 12 of us were standing around wondering which direction to go in when a couple cab drivers approached us. They offered a tour of the island and over to the palace so we decided to go for it. Great decision!
Our taxi driver was excellent. Two of the cars of did a three hour tour and the other car did a two hour tour. We were on a three hour tour which started with a drive across the island to a great look out point and down to the area where many people vacation. The top industry in Corfu is tourism (high season is May - October) and second is olive oil production. There are a lot of olive trees...and cypress trees. Today I learned how to determine the difference between male (skinny) and female (fuller) cypress trees. And that olive tree can live to 1000 years. Corfu is the greenest Greek island as it gets more rain in the winter.
Our driver talked about the economy and how you don't want to lose your job because they are hard to get. He said it as a fact, not as a complaint in any way. All the people we met were very friendly and helpful. Then we drove over to the monastery where I saw way more feline inhabitants than people. The Orthodox Church was very dark with lots of mosaics.
We drove across the island with the Greek tunes turned up. Our driver told us about the history of the island back from the time when the Venetians ruled (I think they occupied the island for 400-500 years). The buildings in the old town have a strong Venetian influence. Then the French occupied for awhile and finally the British. The British built roads and water systems. Corfu was never occupied by the Turks like the other Greek islands. They are happy about that.
We ventured over to the palace. The Achilleion Palace was built in 1889-91 by Elizabeth, the Empress of Austria. She had a great admiration for the Greek mythological hero, Achilles, hence the name. And all the Greek statues in the gardens. It was used as a hospital during WWI and by the Italians and Germans in WWII as military headquarters. In the 1960s it was turned into a casino - Greece's first casino.
We were dropped off in the old town and we looked around a bit. The buildings do look Venetian without the canal. James and I walked back to the ship. It was a nice walk along the water with interesting sites.
We were back in time for 4 o'clock happy hour in the Crow's Nest and then a burger at The Dive In.
The ship had a service call in Sarande, Albania so a few of us decided to take the tender over in the evening. We noticed that Sarande looks very clean but there were very few women out. There were lots of groups of men - young and old (in suits), but hardly any women of any age. We thought it was odd. We walked along the water for a bit and stopped in to have an Albanian beer. Five beer cost €10. I thought it tasted wretched but everyone else seemed to enjoy it. I'm not a beer fan. James drank mine.
The Koningsdam looks stunning at night all lit up from a distance.