July 26, 2017
Corfu, of course.
Why ‘of course’?
‘Cos everybody knows that Kefalonia is the biggest one.
Well, I didn’t. I thought it was Crete.
Are you for real? Crete is Greece’s largest island overall. And nowhere near the Ionian Sea.
OK, so what makes Corfu so special?
Well, first off, it’s the closest Greek island to the UK, geographically speaking. It’s literally less than three hours away. If you Google the flight time, it’ll tell you it’s three hours and ten minutes, but that’s rubbish: they’re just allowing margins so it looks like lots of their planes are on time. The last two times I’ve flown to Corfu it’s taken no longer than two hours and 45 minutes. By the time you’ve had an in-flight Ouzo to anaesthetise your mouth for the on-board meal, had an exasperated re-realisation that Duty Free no longer saves you a single Euro, it’s time to buckle up and brace yourself for some serious heat.
Is that all there is to recommend it, how quickly you can get there?
No. I hadn’t finished. The irony of Corfu is that, despite its proximity, it’s one of Greece’s most multi-faceted islands.
Which means that it doesn’t feel just Greek.
What’s the point of going to a Greek island that doesn’t feel Greek?
I said it doesn’t feel just Greek. Which is not to say it doesn’t feel Greek. Rest assured, all the things you love about Greece – the souvlaki, the sunsets, the little old ladies sitting on steps in villages, the lone donkey in the poppy fields, those spinach and feta cheese flaky pastry things, the Greeks’ paradox nature (indifferent and passionate) – all this, you’ll have.
So it’s Greek. Granted. But Corfu Town – really striking by contrast to most Greek island capitals – has various incarnations. There’s a distinctly Italian feel, and this isn’t a coincidence: the island was ruled by the Venetians for four centuries. They were responsible for building the two fortresses (old and new) protecting the harbour, and for the pastel-coloured houses with their slatted shutters in Kérkyra (the old town).
Corfu has a French face, too. During the island’s short-lived Napoleonic occupation, the Liston – a square with arcaded terraces and stylish cafés – was built, its design inspired by Paris’ Rue de Rivoli.
The Spianada, an enormous grassy space, runs along next to the Liston and incorporates a cricket pitch – a legacy of British rule in the early 19th century. So you may be sitting in a café sipping a kumquat liqueur (a local favourite) but the view is quintessentially English.
So Corfu Town has Italian style and grace, a lot of je ne sais quoi, and a little of that familiar stiff upper lip.
You can also hop on a boat from Corfu Town and visit Albania for the day.
What?! Is that actually allowed?
Yes, it is. It’s only 30 minutes away by hydrofoil.
Wow. A trip to Corfu is starting to sound like a multi-centre.
Exactly. And you barely have to move, let alone pack.
Should I stay in Corfu Town?
No, plant yourself in the olive groves (you can’t miss them – there are over four million of the things) and hire a car. Then you can pootle about in hilltop hamlets overlooking glistening bays.
That sounds blissful. You’re going to mention the Durrells now, aren’t you?
No need. The scenery in that series speaks for itself.
Did you know there’s going to be a third series?
They’re filming at the moment. If I go soon, do you reckon I might see them on location?
I doubt it, dearie. They’ll be staying at that swanky five-star hotel. You’re staying in the blissful olive groves, remember?
You can travel to Corfu with Travel PR client Sunvil Holidays.