By Norman Hill Photos By Maralyn D. Hill
Corfu lies off the extreme northwestern coast of Greece. Because the country’s border is not straight, Corfu does lie south of the northern city of Thessaloniki, which is farther east. The Adriatic Sea, off Corfu’s shore, is fairly close at this point to the Italian coast.
Unlike the rest of Greece, Corfu Greeks were never subjugated by the Ottoman Turks, although it was attacked twice by them. Instead, the island was controlled by Venice for a substantial period, around 1376 to 1797, when Napoleon took over from Venice. French domination did not last long, and after Napoleon’s Waterloo defeat, Great Britain took effective ownership of Corfu from 1814 to 1864. After 50 years, independent Greece took over and Corfu has been a part of the mainland ever since.
Aegean Air took Maralyn and me from Athens to Corfu on a smooth ride. Although roads were not hilly, they often curved time and again, so that we were glad to depend on local drivers. This was even truer after dark as we wound around and around. The area of Corfu we saw was lush with greenery that was welcoming and established.
We spent two pleasant nights at our Hotel, MarBella. This establishment was one of the largest on our tour, with 408 rooms. While we were there, they were hosting a culinary festival, which drew a large crowd. In addition to demonstrations, there were many interactive activities.
Both Maralyn and a friend were scheduled to talk to a local Rotary Club. Their topic was promoting tourism with responsible journalists and bloggers. The audience was receptive and asked several penetrating questions.
In the meantime, we arranged a late morning tour with the taxi driver, Spero, who had taken us from the airport. This fellow had relatives in the U.S., knew English well and knew the island thoroughly. He agreed to pick us up in several hours after we walked around on our own. The downtown area had park areas intermingled with storefronts. We spent a significant amount of time exploring an historic courthouse built by Great Britain during its ownership period. The building was in the center of town and was well preserved. We enjoyed walking along the waterfront. You could look down the rocky coast through a fence to see steep steps to the water below. You can certainly sense the Italian influence in Corfu.
After some necessary shopping, we had a leisurely lunch and conversations with some Americans due to return to their cruise ship.
We also struck up a conversation with a jewelry store owner who was more than happy to provide us with the history of his family shop, which was home to beautiful jewelry. Fortunately, it was time for us to meet our cab before we had the opportunity to make any expensive purchases.
All in all, it was a relaxing afternoon and a fitting end to our busy week in Greece.