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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Corfu, Greece

This was our first experience with a ship excursion and the reviews were mixed. 

We explored Corfu by bus, starting out late because of ship docking problems due to weather.  We boarded the bus under threatening skies, and were greeted with a rainbow as we set off, a harbinger of things to come - thunderstorms and dark skies interspersed with moments of great beauty.

Our first stop was Achilleion Palace, high on a hill overlooking Corfu City, the former summer home of Elizabeth (Sissi), Empress of Austria, built in 1890. 


 The mansion was lovely, but not in its state of former grandeur, and the guide was repetitious about Sissi's unhappy life.  
 I liked the animal reliefs in the dining room.


 It rained while we were inside, but held off as we toured the garden.  It was loosely maintained but still had the bones and the view of its former days.




From Corfu city we crossed over the island and high up into the hills to the Monastery of the Virgin Mary, a lovely hilltop mission with great plants and lots of cats.   It was above the town of Paleokastritsa, with wonderful views on the trip up and down.














 The monks grow olives and kumquats and produce their own olive oil and kumquat candy for sale.



 On the way back down we stopped at this beach and I left my footprints there.

  We continued to traverse the island hills, through small villages where our tour bus almost scraped houses on both sides of the narrow streets.
 We stopped at a view point high above the sea.
 Olive trees were everywhere.
 This blurry photo taken from the bus shows the netting on the ground, as the locals prepare to harvest the olives.
 As we drove and drove, Tom slept while I enjoyed watching the red tiled homes and the vegetation pass by - big old olive trees, cypress exclamation marks, little home vineyards, sage, cactus and palms. 
 It was after 2:00 when we finally made our lunch stop ar a resort hotel where we were provided with a delicious buffet lunch.  Tom and I tried to eat carefully, until it came to the desserts!
A terrific thunder and lightning storm across the view provided the entertainment.
 We stopped at an overlook over the harbor of Corfu City.
 Have you ever seen a cat tree?  A very rare species. 

 We didn't have much time when we finally were let loose in Corfu City. We explored the old fortress.



 The moat makes a good boat basin.
 We had a bit of time to wander into the the city.
 We found St. Spyridon Church, the patron saint of Corfu.  The saint is entombed in a silver sarcophagus.  The men were allowed into the sacred room to kiss the tomb, while the women were limited to the outer area where they were busy writing out their notes - prayers- wishes?, and lighting candles.  No photos allowed. 



 Back on the ship, we were soon underway in story seas.

 But the sunset was glorious!




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