April 10, 2022
Our port of call today is Corfu, Greece.
We arrived while it was still a bit dark outside but you could still see one of the forts as we sailed in.
Our guide is Zita who was born in Hungary but has been working here for 23 years.
Locating Corfu on the map – if you picture the heel of the boot of Italy and the west coast of mainland Greece, Corfu lies just between them. It faces Albania on the east, and we got a notice on our phones “Welcome to Albania”, that’s how close it is.
The position of Corfu at the entrance to the Adriatic Sea makes it a strategic location as well.
First, we traveled through the town and heard from Zita that the population of Corfu is 100,000. It is very fertile and is called the Emerald Island. It has a wonderful climate and many beautiful beaches. Before Covid, Zita said that about 78 planes a day landed here in summer.
We stopped for a view of a small island called Mouse Island due to its small size. Mythology says that it was the ship of Ulysses that was stoned by the god Poseidon. It is near a church and monastery called Panagia Vlacherna which is linked to the land by a small bridge.
There is a forecast for some rain today but so far it is sunny.
The Venetians occupied Corfu during the period when Christianity was introduced and most of the so called pagan structures were destroyed and the worship of the gods decreased. Many stories remain though.
We visited the Mon Repos Palace which was actually the birthplace of Prince Phillip of the UK. He was born on the dining table in the villa which belonged to Greek Royals in 1921. There is a plaque marking the site as his birthplace. Mon Repos is now an archeological museum. We had a tour through the museum and learned the importance of olive oil and wine in the country. Much of the old pottery was used for oil or wine.
One room had these paintings of local flowers. The large one is the so called Judas tree where Judas hanged after betraying Jesus. It is plentiful on the island.
The grounds are beautiful and we saw lots of runners on the roads around the palace.
There are two large forts on Corfu aptly named the new fort and the old fort! The old fort on the east side of the town overlooking the sea was built in the 15th century by the Venetians and is one of the most impressive fortifications in Europe. We didn’t go in but had lots of photo opportunities.
The new fort is also called the Fortress of St. Mark and was built between 1576 and 1645. You still see the winged lion, symbol of Venice, on many of the buildings.
So you see, they are both quite old!
We had time to walk around the old town. Even though it is Sunday, many shops were open. Apparently a big thing here is Donkey Milk soap, so we had to buy some.
We also saw these men load this large object into their small car. No idea what it was or where it was headed.
We visited a small ornate church and the man inside gave us candles to light and also some bread.
Just as we were getting ready to return to the ship, there was a rain storm so we got kind of soaked. It wasn’t too cold though, and we did have our waterproof windbreakers on.
We say goodbye to beautiful Corfu and Greece. Tomorrow we visit Dubrovnik in Croatia and we are really excited to see it because everyone says it is so beautiful. Our clocks go back one hour tonight.