LOrens Durrell was convinced that it was in Corfu, or Kerkyra, as the Greeks call it, that the action of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" took place. The beauty of the island, which, it seems, cannot exist in reality, but only in the space of a romantic myth, convinces everyone who arrives here that Darrell Sr. was right. The famous English writer and literary critic, brother of the even more famous writer and friend of wildlife Gerald Durrell, really knew what he was talking about.
History of the Durrell family and Corfu
The numerous Durrell family, who moved in search of an earthly paradise to Corfu when both future writers were still very young, once again opened this land to Western European intellectuals - first to their friends, then to admirers of Darrell's books.
“Its mountains seemed to be sleeping under a crumpled brown blanket, olive groves were green in the folds. Among the chaotic heap of sparkling rocks of gold, white and red colors, white beaches curved like tusks ... ”, Gerald Durrell recalled his arrival on the island.
One of the houses where the Durrells lived is still intact: a slightly awkward building compared to modern villas, but it is right next to the water. It is located in the northeastern part of the island, in one of the many bays adjacent to the border with Albania.
In the narrowest place to the mainland within easy reach. It seems that even the weakest swimmer can overcome this distance. The bays are scattered freely with villas owned by residents of the city of Corfu, Greeks from the mainland, Italians or, as the Darrells used to be, inhabitants of the more remote corners of Europe. Those who come here for a summer vacation do not want to endure the tourist crowd around them.
Holidays and hotels in Corfu
Excursion boats anchor near these bays for a short time and at a respectful distance from the coast. They try not to build hotels here. In Durrell's places, for example, there is only one, with 18 seats, with a pool located high above the bay.
For large hotels on the island, there are special “reservations” - in the capital of the island, the city of Corfu, and on the nearest coasts: the elite northern one near the town of Sidari, the fashionable western one around the town of Palio-kastritsa, which is considered the most expensive and most picturesque, and more democratic east.
Guides to Corfu will definitely draw your attention to the fact that the level of local hotels does not always correspond to the classification adopted in the West. Only the so-called L-suite is drawn to the highest category, and there are only five similar hotels on the island.
These are not necessarily such luxurious modern buildings as the Corfu Hilton, located above the very observation deck of the city, where all tourists arriving on the island are marked, and exactly under the “corridor” of planes landing at the local airport.
The liners that seem to fly just a few centimeters above the dome of the monastery church on the tiny Isle of Mouse are a very exciting attraction.
A luxury hotel can also consist of small bungalows located in the garden along its own beach. Such hotels are often entirely “Italian”: there is a regular ferry to Corfu from the mainland, from Ancona, Brindisi and Naples. Rich Italians rent bungalows as summer cottages for the entire summer season, because, unlike their native resorts, peace and quiet reign here.
Advice from travelguide.ru. For those who, going to the island, will choose a hotel, we advise you to focus not only on the charging letter. In addition to L and A, there are also B, D, E and P, respectively - a boarding house, but - oddly enough - you should also pay attention to the name.
The secret is simple: if the hotel is on the seashore, its name must necessarily consist of at least two words, one of which is Beach - beach: Angela Beach, Silver Beach and so on. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a very comfortable room with a beautiful view from the window, but you will be separated from the sea by a highway with very busy traffic.
Corfu Island: today and yesterday
However, no matter what surprises lie in wait for you, the rest is unlikely to be spoiled. The nature and climate here are too good to be annoyed by trifles: the sky in Corfu is clear from April to October, and from November to March it rains, and there are enough of them so that the air never, even in the hottest July and August, smells of dust, and the greenery seemed primordial. In addition, the island has excellent excursion services and there is something for tourists to see.
All roads naturally lead to the capital. It is located in the very middle of the east coast - on a narrow strip of land that protrudes into the sea. From two sides the city is closed by fortresses: "old" and "new". Both were built in the 16th century by the Venetians.
The Venetians came to Corfu after the Byzantines, they themselves were replaced by the French, then the Turks and Russians (from 1799 to 1807), then again the French, then the British (1814-1864), and finally, Corfu became part of Greece. An attentive tourist will see the change of dates and milestones in the appearance of the city: there is both French and English style, but most of all from Venice. The similarity between the capital of Corfu and the "Queen of the Adriatic" is striking.
Some corners of the old city are so reminiscent of the streets adjacent to St. Mark's Square that the feeling of space is lost. Corfu is a small, touching and somewhat provincial "Venice", it is precisely this and freedom from the endless tourist booth that makes it attractive.
Corfu was admired by Goethe and Napoleon, Oscar Wilde and the Empress of Austria Elisabeth (Sissi) - the same one who was killed in 1898 in Geneva by an Italian anarchist. Eight years before her death, she built her Achillio palace on a mountain above the capital of Corfu, with a huge garden descending down the slope.
In 1905, Kaiser Wilhelm II bought the palace from Elizabeth's heirs. But during the First World War, the Greek government expropriated it - there was first a French hospital, then (for a long time) a fashionable casino, now - a museum where excursions are sure to take.
Getting around the island of Corfu
A nice feature of tourist Corfu is the exceptionally good quality of sightseeing buses, in which it is easy to move even the most winding road.
Regular buses, as they should be, are somewhat worse, but the problem with taxis is that it is quite difficult to catch them. And this is worth considering if you go on an excursion alone, without a group.
For those who are confident in their driving class, the most reasonable option is to rent a car. This service exists in all major hotels and resort towns (at lower rates).
It is easy to get around the whole island by car. The coastline is only 217 kilometers long. In this case, it is possible to observe firsthand the change in the landscape from violent romantic rocks to an almost “Baltic” plain.
There is another important detail for the traveler. There are almost no closed beaches in Corfu and all coastal, even located on the territory of hotels, bars and restaurants are available for public use. Restaurant prices are relatively low. They are somewhat higher than in Turkey, but significantly lower than in Europe. There is another plus. In English, the locals speak quite tolerably.
The result and logical conclusion Travel Guide: Corfu Island is exactly the place that you need to remember and be sure to visit there if possible, touch its history, learn the beauty of local nature, feel the warmth of sandy beaches and feel the caress of coastal waves.