Beyond Palaiokastritsas lies Lakones, one of the many small villages with lanes so narrow that there exists a traffic light at both ends of the village to manage the traffic flow! Consequently, the menacing motor coaches can not reach the village. We found a small space to park and wandered around, taking in what some guide books refer to as among the top ten “old spirt” villages in Europe. All of this is ever debatable, of course, though we were captivated by the friendly people and their charming village.
Leaving Lakones we stopped briefly in Makrades, a tiny 13th century village on a hilltop surrounded by olive groves. The General Store offered olives and the Corfiot speciality of preserved kumquats for tasting, (very) local olive oil for purchase (which we did) and of course, Corfiot Kitties.
This side of the island is heavily favored by German-speaking tourists, and for the most part we were addressed in German first. (In fact, both the Austrian and the German Consulates have prominent offices in the heart of Corfu Town.)
From Makrades we followed a small road through fragrant olive groves to Kirin and the 13th century Byzantine fortress, Aggelokastro.
Perched at the edge of a rocky promontory on the western coast of Corfu, the fortress could signal across the island to Corfu Town to warn of impending invaders. The fortification was only seized once, with occupants even managing to fend off the famous Turkish pirate, Barbarossa.
Leaving the fortification, I suggested to Tony that I would walk back through the groves to take photos, and that he could retrieve the car and collect me along the way. There was a light breeze, which helped to swirl the heady aroma of the wild groves all around me. Some of the trees are more than 400 years old!
Enter YaiYai #4 and her terrifying dogs. (She is in the background of the photo.) While walking along the road I spied her tending to her trees, and we exchanged waves. Then her two dogs bounded out from behind one of the steppes and charged at me! Wearing a skirt and wedges and my only defense being my camera, the first word out of my mouth was, “AUS!” Having been spoken to in German all morning, and using that command around the (so very few) unruly dogs in Vienna on occasion, it seemed a natural reaction. Except the dogs are Greek. Thankfully YaiYai then shouted something in Greek, and the dogs backed away but continued to growl. Tony arrived moments later, and the dogs circled the car as we drove carefully away.
The itinerary for this day had been to explore villages of interest along the North Coast, as well, and in making our way we stopped for a coffee in the cute square of Doukades. With our coffee the proprietor brought freshly made, warm, feta and spinach handpies, and refused to accept payment for them. Such hospitality.
More traffic as we left Doukades, this time Mother Goose and her goslings, with Father Gander bringing up the caboose.
Clearing the mountain range we arrived in Ocean City Sidari, a jarring and fun contradiction to the villages we had spent the morning in. A classic beach town with every form of inflatables, tee-shirts, and all the souvenir tchotchke needed by which to remember your holiday.
From Sidari across the northern coast the language shifted to English, as the region is wildly popular with the Brits.
We sat for lunch at a beachside restaurant, where we discovered that included with our meal was the use of beach loungers for the remainder of the day, a trend that continued as we toured the island throughout our stay! Again, such hospitality!
But let’s talk about the food, first. Lunch on this day was our first exposure to the Greek-British fusion cuisine wherein nearly every dish (in this case, Souvlaki) comes dressed with the soggiest, mushiest, “chips” ever. After two meals we learned to ask for our dish without “chips.” The Souvlaki, on the other hand, was succulent and perfectly lemony. Afterwards, a small nap on the beach loungers. Aaah.
On the way to our final stop for the day, Kassiopi, this gorgeous cove beach came into view. Corfu, for its small size, boasts more than 50 beaches so there’s a beach style for everyone.
Kassiopi was similar to Sidari and did not hold our interest for long, but did offer splendid views.
Back in Corfu Town for the pre-dinner passeggiata, as we jokingly referred to our newfound habit of wandering the city while trying to decide from amongst the many enticing places to settle in for the evening.
Having enjoyed our first meal at one of Corfu Town’s oldest tavernas so much, we stopped in again for dinner. The proprietor recognized us and brought us a piping pan of spicy baked Feta cheese, topped with peppers and onions. “It is free because you come back.” Oh, it was delicious.
And the extraordinary hospitality continued! Perhaps because the proprietor remembered that we had both ordered seafood on the first night, he suggested this pasta dish brimming with all of my favorite creatures of the sea, from the special, Greek-language only menu! After two days on Corfu, we felt like family.
Good night, Corfu Town.