Calm in Corfu

As the cold weather sits in and the days grow darker, I begin to lament the passing of summer. So I thought I'd revisit it before the mittens come out...

Summer vacation in Southern Europe is an event.  People go away for two or three weeks at a time, even a whole month and every conversation from June to mid September invokes or recalls the year’s summer adventures.  This is one of the things I love about Europe.  Nobody bats an eye, nobody gasps when someone is away for weeks at a time (except the Americans, lol) and it's ok if we're a little less productive so as to recharge and be productive the other eleven months (which are intense).
This year it was time for a vacation where I didn’t have to think about details.  I didn’t want to build an itinerary, have an agenda or stress about immersing myself in all things local and authentic. There is a time for that – this was not it.  I wanted to get on a plane and end up by the sea, with no agenda but "time in the sun" and where the hardest decision we had to make is which beach chair to spend the day in and what, oh what, to take to read.  In fact, it was time to feel like time didn’t exist.
But before attaining a state of timelessness, there are in fact, a few details that have to be taken care of.  And as time often does, it moves ahead when we’re not always quite ready and two weeks before our vacation, we still had not made any plans, though we had entered into many of the above mentioned June conversations about where we wanted to go.  We decided to be adventurous and leave it chance – we would wait until the last minute and see where further procrastination would get us.  Early bird gets the worm?  Pish posh.  We were trendsetters, part of the new crowd of "last minute vacationers" who would play vacation roulette and see where we land.
An aside:  While this idea seemed extremely exciting to me because deep down inside I adore surprises, not having a plan 48 hours before we planned to depart was nerve wracking.  

The wheel of vacation roulette turned (it was more an overcrowded screen of travel sites and the clicking of a mouse) and we landed on a destination I’ve always wanted to explore more – Greece.  A 5 star resort on the Ioanian Sea was our haven of timelessness.  Though it had the name of a city in Spain we visited on last year’s adventure (MarBella Beach), we were not dismayed.
And so one Sunday at midnight, time stopped for a week.  Every morning, we woke up to a view of the sun glimmering off the sea.  After a lazy breakfast, we would flip flop our way down to the beach and would alternate between soft sand or massage our feet on beds of rock.   There we would lay, letting the sun and warmth envelop or bodies and when we got hot (pretty quickly), we would dive into the calm, crystal waters to let the water envelop and cool our bodies.  The salty water set us afloat without much effort, our limbs moving about aimlessly for what to me is ultimate relaxation. The water was so calm and so warm that it didn’t feel like you were in the sea but on the banks of a calm lake on a summer day.

Rinse, relax, repeat.

While this wasn’t a gourmet adventure, I still got my fill of delicate feta, the salty tang of olives or tapenade, the gummy and weird deliciousness of grilled halumi, vinegary rice filled dolmadoes and endless amounts of wine.  Did I have the best on the island?  Probably not, but I had the best my square kilometer had to offer and I'm ok with that.

Travel Notes:
Corfu is a mix of Mediterranean culture, the buildings reminding me of Venetian Italy and not the white domes of Santorini Greece we think of in pictures.  The airport is fun as it boasts one of the shortest landing strips in Europe, which is actually pretty cool to watch from both inside and outside of the plane (once landed of course).
My advice for Corfu is less than thorough, we were serious about the relaxing business.  Aside from a boat trip to some nearby islands with cool names (Paxos and Antipaxos), we rented a moped for a day of zooming around.  It was a piece of shit that we nicknamed Canette, which didn't really show our fuel levels, but it dutifully got us around the southern tip of the island.  The ocean meets land at sea level all along this coast, so you can basically pull off of the road and go for a swim anywhere. There are lots of little tavernas along here, where you can stop for a drink and a snack and look over the ocean.  Peppered about are lots of unfinished and dilapidated buildings.  When you look inside the concrete frame, you see a beautiful view of the ocean, a vision of the dream that place was supposed to be.  And then you see an old lawn chair, a beat up table and on it, a bottle of wine - someone is still enjoying the view…that brought a smile to my face.

Caves on the coast of Paxos.
I can find the charm in anything, but Kavos.  Never go to Kavos.  It is a haven for British teens and twenty somethings where music blasts and the scenery is an alternating line of clubs and urgent care facilities.  But if that's your thing, then you know where your heaven is.

Go to Corfu Town.  Do not drink copious amounts of Ouzo and miss the bus and boat to Corfu Town, you will be disappointed with yourself and so will your partner.  And then your partner will take a little nab at you in her blog post.

The mountains began just after our hotel and this is where the sweeping views of dramatic coastlines start.  If we go back, we will go north and if you go, you should go North, Kassiopi.  Rent a boat and go island and cove hopping. Enjoy, and tell me about it if you go!

Postcard worthy pic from MarBella Corfu.  Goodbye for another year, summer!


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