This trip to the island of Corfu has taken a while to take off. One reason is that it is so frigging hot. What is wrong with our planet? It is early June and the thermometer gets as high 34° after about 1 o’clock so there is no incentive to get out of the shade and into the sauna of the car to start exploring the island. The first few sorties out have been around Gouvia, where we are staying in a little oasis of green and pool.
Another reason for the slow start is that this is the party area, with lines of bars, eateries passing themselves off as traditional tavernas, minimarkets, apartment blocks. Thank goodness its not high season. It would be rocking with karaoke and pumping happy hours. So I’ve not really had the urge to take any photos as this could be anywhere.
Sadly the whole island is blighted with huge areas of rotting bags of waste along the roads. The islands only landfill site had been closed by the EU as being illegal and there is nowhere to dump the trash so it simple lies there in growing piles of black bags which also reduces the incentive to wander around snapping picturesque images, even if I could find them around here.
So, eventually, braving these elements, we venture further afield to try a beach on the west coast, supposed to be really nice. Paleokastrista consists of a public stoney/sandy beach around a crescent bay lined by low apartment blocks and hotels and high craggy rocks up to low mountain ridges. A couple of smaller bays lie around the corner. Exciting holiday activities are on offer – you can pay for a pair of sunbeds + an umbrella + Wi-Fi, you can hire a speed boat for the day, you can chug with the local fishermen (now no longer netting fish but netting tourists) along the coast for a bit to visit 4 caves in 40 minutes (hmmm), the banana boat is a must, sit in a bar and watch the international tourist enjoy themselves, all under the pong of the huge pile of rubbish in the carpark.
Oh, two images of contradiction – the sign up the hill to the monastery and the hoard of goats that clip down the narrow road, bells ringing and scrotums, or is the plural of scrotum-scroti, swinging, chased by a red faced goat-herder. I think he is in control.
We decide to spend a few hours on the beach and swim in the sea – looks good but freezing. I can’t remember when I last did a beach. Probably when my two girls were of an age. Is it really fun? Find a space on the clinker between the couples and families. Lay out towels which absorb the sand, sit down and lie out (boy, is it a long way down there….and even further to get up again, grunting and swiveling and pushing, trying to avoid pulling something), sand covers every patch of oiled, sweaty body wether it comes from leaning outside the towel, the shaken towel from neighbours or the bathers as they pass. Fun? Na. Backache, sore elbows, sand in every crack, fold, orifice. You can’t read without breaking your back or cracking your neck, every time you want to drink you have to sit up, gulp, flop down. It is just so much hard work. So you simply watch the beach and think how daft all this is.
The saving grace comes on the way home with an instinctive diversion into the mountains to find the traditional village of Doukas and the amazing Taverna Dukas with papa serving and mama cooking. Lamb casserole to die for, beef stefano to fall for, a cheap half litre of red and homemade yogurt with strawberry sauce on the house. My faith has been restored.