Corfu is both the name of the island and the name of the main city which the locals refer to as Corfu Town. The town is a curious mixture of styles which reflect its history of being under Venetian rule from medieval times until the late 18th century, then a French possession until Britain took it over after winning the Napoleonic wars. It became part of Greece from 1864. The narrow streets and higgledy-piggledy nature of the buildings contrast with the main town square and the formal park and gardens outside the Old Fort.
We wandered around the town on two separate occasions (it was about a 30 minute bus trip from our hotel) and were lucky enough to have sunshine and blue skies on both visits. We felt very Greek having lunch on both days in open-air tavernas in the town. We typically had simple lunches – fresh bread and olive oil is always served and we chose meatballs, fish, tomato dishes and of course Greek salads for different lunches. We usually chose the house wine, mainly to save on costs, but we were both very impressed with the cheap, everyday Greek wines – much better, we thought, than similar French wines.
There are some excellent buys to be had in the tourist shops which comprise most of the shops in the main town area. Tourism probably accounts for 80% of the Corfu income. Locally-made jewellery and craftwork were very reasonable in price and of a high standard – there was some of the “tat” that is often seen in tourist destinations but plenty of quality as well. Pip bought some earrings (of course) and I purchased a leather “man bag” – my first ever! – for a very reasonable 39 euros. It is becoming somewhat of a necessity to carry around passports, camera, hotel keys and other bits and pieces in one convenient bag. I hope I don’t look too metrosexual.
Talking of bargains, I spotted a watch branded Rolex Day/Date for a very reasonable price. However, on closer inspection, the watch face contained neither the day nor the date. Obviously, the good people at Rolex had spotted this problem before it went on sale which was no doubt the reason for its 15 euro price tag. Compare that with the 7500 euro and upwards prices of Rolex watches that I saw in another shop – but then, you’ll always get the rip-off artists wanting to make their fortune from the gullible traveller.
We visited the Greek Orthodox cathedral in the centre of town which is a very ordinary-looking building but inside is another story altogether with the most ornate decorations and paintings (no photographs allowed, unfortunately). The Greek Orthodox church calculates Easter in a different way from the Western churches so they are usually on different weekends each year. However, in Corfu, the catholic church has received special dispensation from the Pope to use the Orthodox dates so that the whole island has the one holiday and celebration. How quirky.