The Time We Went to Corfu, Greece

Greece Itin­er­ary: Corfu (11 days) -> Athens (5 days) -> Mete­ora (2 days) -> Thes­sa­loniki (2 days)

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Ipsos beach.

Since last sum­mer, my brother and his wife, Ger, had been plan­ning a fam­ily trip to Corfu to cel­e­brate her 40th birth­day. Tim and I had politely declined the invi­ta­tion to join, but once we knew for sure that we were going to be trav­el­ing for a year, it became a no brainer for us to rethink our deci­sion.  And what a good idea that was. We were due for a vaca­tion from the vacation.

Photo time.

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Corfu town.

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Gros­jeans!

For the first 6 months of our trav­els, despite hav­ing no real route planned, we had only one goal: to get to Corfu for mid-July to spend some qual­ity fam­ily time at the now infa­mous Del Cielo, the lux­ury villa where every­one else was stay­ing perched atop a mountain.

After drop­ping our bags off at our hos­tel in the once renowned party town, Ipsos, we headed up hill to the Del Cielo.  We said our hel­los, finally got to see my nephews, got a tour of the amaz­ing grounds, and started drink­ing. What was weird is that it sud­denly didn’t feel like it had been 6 months since I’d seen my family.

That night, we had our first of many great din­ners and met Ger’s friends and their fam­ily from Corfu.  It was appar­ent after just one night that the next two weeks were going to be all about good food, good drinks, and good com­pany. I couldn’t think of a bet­ter way to get away from the hard nomadic life we’ve been leading.

Tim and I rented a moped to get us between our hos­tel and the house.  We weren’t sure at first if the bike had enough juice to even get us up the hill, but it was sur­pris­ingly easy.  The 15 minute dri­ves up and down became part of our rou­tine, and was a fun way to start and fin­ish each day.

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View from the top of the Old Fort.

On our sec­ond day in Corfu, we went on a road trip around the island, stop­ping at dif­fer­ent places to take pho­tos of the stun­ning views.  There was some­thing nice about hav­ing the free­dom to just pull over when­ever we wanted. It was a nice change from see­ing the coun­try­side by bus, as we’ve become accus­tomed to. We spent the after­noon on a beau­ti­ful sandy beach, and then drove through small vil­lages to get back home, but not before stop­ping for a pre-dinner drink and some appe­tiz­ers at a local restau­rant over­look­ing the sea just in time to watch the sunset.

The third day, we were treated to a boat ride on a pri­vate boat.  Yes, you read that correctly…backpackers on a pri­vate boat. We explored var­i­ous inlets, saw a few dif­fer­ent beaches, and even explored a cou­ple caves.    The booze was flow­ing like water, and we were served a deli­cious Greek lunch, pre­pared by the cap­tain.  This meal was way bet­ter than any restau­rant meal we had in all of Greece.  We def­i­nitely felt really lucky to be able to join every­one on the boat.   Life was good!

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Boat BBQ.

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Go Alou­ettes!

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Boat day.

The fourth day was the star attrac­tion, the point of the “Gros­jeans in Greece” trip:  Ger’s 40th birth­day party.  We roasted a whole lamb on a spit. There was a full spread of deli­cious home cooked Greek food, more than we could imag­ine, and a seem­ingly unlim­ited sup­ply of wine, beer, and Ouzo.  The day turned into night and then the gui­tars came out for a lit­tle bit of tra­di­tional music, and of course there was some danc­ing.  Sadly, no plates were smashed.  This felt like we had a gen­uine local expe­ri­ence, very far removed from any­thing touristy, which is ulti­mately what all back­pack­ers strive to find on the road.   The peo­ple of Corfu def­i­nitely know how to have a good time.  This set the bar pretty high as far as 40th birth­day par­ties are concerned.

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Ger’s birth­day party.

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Greek danc­ing.

It had been a busy week, but what is a vaca­tion with­out a lit­tle bit of hik­ing? So, off we went to hike up Corfu’s high­est peak Mt Pantokrater.

We woke up really early in order to beat the heat, and set off by car.  At this point we realised that nobody actu­ally knew where to go, so we kind of just winged it.   After an hour’s drive we arrived in, Old Perithia, Corfu’s old­est set­tle­ment and started hik­ing.  After 2 hours it was appar­ent that we were likely not on the right path.  We could see the moun­tain, but just couldn’t get to it.  My brother Patrick and his girl­friend decided to turn back, but my other brother, Cyril, and I were not ready to give up just yet.  How­ever, the prob­lem with Patrick leav­ing was that he was our ride back home and we didn’t know how long the hike would take.  We insisted that they should not wait for us and told them that we would fig­ure out a way home, insist­ing that we had fig­ured our way around for the last 6 months.  How hard could it be to get back to the Del Cielo?

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Hik­ing to the top of Mt. Pantokrator.

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Mt. Pan­tokra­tor.

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Coastal view from Mt. Pantokrator.

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Them goats.

So we walked and we walked. There were a cou­ple of wrong turns and dead ends along the way, but even­tu­ally we made it to the top.  The views were stunning.

We could see an almost 360 degree view of the whole island.  While we had some lunch, we met a cou­ple who had also just hiked up and as it turned out, they had hiked up there directly from Sparty­las, the vil­lage where the Del Cielo is located, and they had done it in 3 hours.   Lim­ited trans­port options led us to decide that we were up to the chal­lenge of walk­ing back to the house.  We started mak­ing our way back, try­ing to find the path that was sup­posed to lead us to Sparty­las.   We never found the path, but kept walk­ing along the side of the nar­row windy road, fol­low­ing the gen­eral direc­tion we assumed was right.

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View from the moun­tain top.

It was mid-afternoon by now, and the heat was get­ting pretty unbear­able, but we just kept walk­ing.  We stopped in a vil­lage along the way to take a break to ingest some liq­uid courage.  We knew we were all really tired, but still we weren’t ready to give up yet, so we got back up and kept walk­ing.   At this point, we really had no idea whether or not we were going the right way, and how we were going to get home. It seemed like we were in the mid­dle of nowhere.  The break­ing point was near and we were get­ting worse for wear.

Then the unthink­able hap­pened and it wasn’t a mirage. A ran­dom pub­lic bus appeared in the dis­tance.  We had no idea where it was going, but we knew it was bet­ter to just get on it than to keep walk­ing.  So we got on and the dri­ver told us he was going to Ipsos, which is right where our hos­tel was.   Per­fect we thought, we’d get off there and take a taxi up to the house.

We were saved.

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Cyril and Helene’s dirty lit­tle secret: they didn’t walk all the way home after climb­ing to the top of the mountain.

Within less than 5 min­utes of being on the bus, we passed a road sign that stated that Sparty­las was 1 KM away.  We were actu­ally pretty close!  And as the bus kept going down the road, it became clear to us, that not only was the bus going through Sparty­las, but it was actu­ally going to pass right in front of the road to the house. 10 min­utes later we were get­ting off the bus and walk­ing down the dirt road to the house.

We couldn’t stop laugh­ing at how lucky we had been, the day had been so full of poorly planned deci­sions, yet had worked out so beau­ti­fully. That is, if you dis­count the fact that we walked for about 7 hours in 35 degree weather.

The rest of the vaca­tion away from vaca­tion was filled with sight­see­ing in Corfu Town, sit­ting at the beach, and hang­ing out at the house and enjoy­ing the facil­i­ties.  The place even had a built in fire­wood pizza oven, so not once but twice we got busy and made some pizzas.

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The Villa’s pizza oven. No big deal.

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Corfu town’s new fort.

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Any guesses as to how this ended?

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Roasted lamb. Roasted Thomas.

Since Patrick left a cou­ple days before every­one else, Tim and I were able to spend the last 2 nights sleep­ing at the house, in his room, which just hap­pened to be the entire tower.  I can con­fi­dently say that we are for sure the first back­pack­ers to have set foot on the Del Cielo, and likely the last.  We cher­ished every moment of it, know­ing fully well that it was going to be hard to go back to the real­ity of bud­get hotels and hostels.

By the end of the 2 weeks, it was really hard to say good­bye to every­one.  From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, the extreme gen­eros­ity of my fam­ily, con­tributed to a won­der­ful “vaca­tion” from our trip.  We expe­ri­enced so many things that wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble with­out them, and all the amaz­ing friendly peo­ple we met over the course of the 2 weeks.

Of course, all good things must come to an end; it was time for us to con­tinue on and make it to our next des­ti­na­tion:  Athens.

Pho­tos of Corfu, Greece:

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Boat time.

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Corfu Town old fort.

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Corfu Town.

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Evening’s loom­ing.

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Evening’s here.

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Good to be the Cap­tain of the boat.

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Beach time.

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Fis­cher beer.

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Call me.

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Beer any­one?

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Girls.

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Ger, Marie-Eve, and a Philippe photo bomb.

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The Del Cielo’s din­ner table.

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Evening out for dinner.

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Evening in for dinner.

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Game-show night.

Next stop: Athens…

Greece Itin­er­ary: Corfu (11 days) -> Athens (5 days) -> Mete­ora (2 days) -> Thes­sa­loniki (2 days)

15 thoughts on “The Time We Went to Corfu, Greece

  1. Etienne Grosjean

    This is extra­or­di­nary… How proud I am to see all my chil­dren (excepted Sylvester) to get along so well and to have fun together. Con­grat­u­la­tion to those which orga­nized this…

    Reply
  2. Hugo F

    Great blog — no I haven’t read it all yet, but looks like it might be hard to leave! Looks like an amaz­ing time…

    Reply
  3. Aphrodite

    Sneaky guys, tak­ing the bus down from Pan­tokra­tor!!! LOL
    I’m glad you guys enjoyed your­selves. Nice to have met you!

    Reply
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  5. Jane Denney

    Oh you so cap­tured the whole joy of Corfu in this blog, a lovely read and with your pho­tos a glimpse of what this beau­ti­ful island has to offer. It made me want to get back there… fast!. I wish you well in your world trav­els. It is nice to see the villa being so well enjoyed.

    Reply
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