A Greek Christmas
Welcome to Corfu and Kronya Pola!
Hoping you enjoyed Christmas (Christougenna) as much as we did here on Corfu? I am sure you will be interested to know how our Christmas was celebrated in Greece.
It is only in recent years that Christmas has become popular here in Greece. Easter is still the main yearly event; a week long, festive and religious celebration which is referred to as the 'big' week. Christmas though is catching up, with the focus on religion but the family playing a central part.
Agios Vasillis (Father Christmas) visited on Christmas night, but without his usual mode of transport - it was far too warm and we could only dream of a white Christmas.
That aside, Christmas is celebrated in a similar fashion to the rest of the Christian world. Brightly decorated Christmas trees, coloured lights in the streets and around the houses and loads of food and prezzies! Christmas eve, sees the first of the carol singers. The familiar tunes - in Greek of course! Then off to the Church. Christmas in Greece focuses on religion, with most going to Church mass.
Our Christmas day was spent at home with the whole family. Mum and Eleni prepared a feast, starting with mezze, soup and then a main meal, all washed down with dad's homemade wine!
Where's the Turkey?
This may come as a surprise, but a typical Greek Christmas dinner is often Lamb, which is 'spit' roasted outside on the BBQ. Being a warm sunny day, with a dusting of snow on the far away Albanian mountains, cooking our Christmas dinner outside, could not have been more perfect!
To start we had soup. A chicken and lemon recipe, which sounds a little unlikely, but it is excellent.
For our main meal, we had dad's barbequed lamb and pork, served with roasted potatoes (Greek style with loads of olive oil) and salad.
No Crackers, Turkey or Christmas pud on our table!
During Christmas dinner, the TV is on - constantly - as in all Greek homes. Also the phone does not stop ringing - relatives and friends wishing 'Xhronia Polla' - which literally means 'Have Many Years'. Boxing day was spent visiting friends and family.
Christmas all year
Christmas anywhere in the world is a magical time - people treat each other with more kindness and respect, it's a time of goodwill to all. Many of us wish we could bottle up the 'Christmas Spirit' to be used throughout the rest of the year! Let me tell you of my experience:
On Christmas morning we woke to rich blue skies and although chilly, as the sun rose the air gradually warmed. After breakfast I went with Aphrodite to visit our favourite kafenion which is the meeting place for the locals. The kafenion is situated just opposite the village square or 'platea', right on the roadside and on a very bad bend. Some locals were inside but most were sitting or standing outside, requiring to move out of the way of the occasional passing car! Most cars, however, just stopped in the middle of the road to have a chat - about the weather, the previous day's sport or just to pass on some local gossip. Having spotted Elefteria, one of her friends, Aphrodite ran inside to play, Nina, the owner brought out my usual tipple - whisky with lots of water (yes, it was only 11 am but I only drank the one - honest!) What could be better than whiling away an hour or so chatting with friends? So, it was Christmas morning but maybe the Greek people have a knack of making Christmas spirit last all year round because that's how we spend every Sunday morning!
Christmas in Corfu
A report by Stella
You may have wondered how we 'foreigners' celebrate Christmas in Corfu. Many British and other foreign national ex-pats go 'home' for Christmas but for those of us who stay here in Corfu one of the highlights is getting together to sing traditional Christmas carols.
At Holy Trinity Church our celebrations kicked off with the childrens' Nativity Play. This year Jackie Dallos from Lefkada had written an adaptation of 'The Little Drummer Boy' which the Sunday School children acted out for us. They even got the congregation to sing one of the songs in two parts, with no previous practice!
For the children we also have a Christingle Service with candle procession round the streets close to HTC, symbolising taking the light of Christ out into the World.
Nine Lessons and Carols
That same evening we held our traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols. The church was packed and each lesson was read both in English and one other language including, Albanian, German, Spanish, Irish Gaelic and Welsh, as well as Greek. Afterwards we all retired to the Library for mulled wine and mince pies.
Carol Singing round Corfu Town
It has become quite a tradition that on the Thursday evening before Christmas a group of Carolers takes to the streets of Corfu singing carols and collecting money for a local charity. When we first started this we got some very strange looks from the locals but now we've become quite a feature and last year when the weather prevented the outing we were sorely missed! Again, mulled wine and mince pies are a good incentive!
As in good old Blighty many of us attend the Midnight Mass which celebrates the beginning of Christmas Day.
If you are interested in knowing more about the activities of the Anglican Church of Holy Trinity, Corfu please go to our website at www.holytrinitycorfu.net
Happy New Year
Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2006.
The Taverna Agni and Agni Travel Team.
Holiday Inspiration for 2006!
Agni Travel is the sister company of www.agni.gr
specialising in offering 'unpackaged' holiday rental properties, including luxury villas with pools, traditional Corfiot houses, and apartments along the North East coast of Corfu. All our villas are located in stunning areas that have been largely untouched by tourism and offer you a taste of the inherent characteristics of this beautiful island.
Hand Picked Properties
All of our properties have been individually hand-picked by us on a strict basis of quality and value for money and are regularly inspected to ensure they maintain the standards we have set. We also work closely with owners to keep all descriptions and photographs up to date. This allows us to have an intimate knowledge of all properties shown on our site.
See what's new!
Take a look at our updated website which has new features, easy navigation and some fabulous new additions to our property portfolio. Notice that all of the property photographs can be 'clicked on' to show a full sreen sized version.
The Olive Press, Agni Bay
From 840 Euros per week
In the much sought-after area of Agni, there are only a few properties available for rent, and The Olive Press is exceptional. Sleeping up to 6 (with the option of another 6 staying at the lower house), the Olive Press has been fully restored retaining all the charm and character and yet creating a comfortable holiday home. The Olive Press - Agni Bay
Agni Cottage, Agni bay
From 455 Euros per week
The Greek word 'Agni' means unspoilt or pure and you will certainly see why as you are lounging in the swinging hammock on the beachside terrace at Agni Cottage. This bijou, modernised fisherman's cottage, sleeping 2, will definitely make you feel like Shirley Valentine! Agni Cottage - Agni Bay
Vingla House, Vingla, above Kalami
From 1421 Euros per week
In Greek, Vingla means Beacon or look-out so that will give you some idea of the breathtaking panoramic sea views you will enjoy from Vingla House! This fabulous villa sleeps 6, is fully air-conditioned (at no extra cost) and has all the features required for a relaxing holiday. The views from the infinity style swimming pool have astounded everyone who has had the pleasure of swimming in it! Vingla House
Kaminaki Villas - Nikos & Delphine
From 672 Euros per week
The idyllic bay of Kaminaki is the place that mass tourism overlooked. In the heart of this sleepy little hamlet, only moments from the white-pebbled beach, Agni Travel is delighted to offer 'Nikos' and 'Delphine'(Greek for 'Dolphin'). Both sleep 6 and although identical in layout are individual in decor and style. The villas have front-facing balconies with views to the sea and terraces onto the kidney-shaped pool that is shared by the three villas: Nikos, Delphine and Dora. Kaminaki Villas - Nikos and Delphine
Kaminaki Villas - Dora
From 500 Euros per week
In the heart of sleepy Kaminaki, only moments from the beach and sharing a pool with 'Nikos & Delphine', 'Dora', sleeps 4 and is exceptionally tastefully decorated and furnished. A front facing terrace overlooks the kidney-shaped pool and there is also a private rooftop terrace and BBQ area from where panoramic seaviews can be enjoyed. Kaminaki Villas - Dora
Let Us Help
Agni Animal Welfare Fund
It is with great excitement that we announce our new Animal Welfare fund, to help animals here on Corfu. We would like to thank Angela and Julia whose hard work and dedication have made this possible. All of the charity's costs are being met by Taverna Agni - Agni Travel.
Last year, a friend had suggested the possibility of setting up a charity or fund in order to help Corfus stray animals, it became apparent to us that there was support for the stray animals and that visitors would be interested in helping and supporting an animal welfare fund.
One of our objectives is to REDUCE the number of kittens born in the summer by spaying and neutering the cats with the donations made to us and to discourage the excessive feeding during the summer. With less cats and kittens around to find food at the end of the season, the better chance they have of surviving through the winter. The few people that are around during the winter are more inclined to help one or two cats whereas they find it impossible to feed so many. In areas where we have spayed and neutered cats we will make sure that they have food.
Cats and Dogs
Help and support has been given in the past to some of the stray dogs and we would like to be able to continue with some support towards the them using the Agni Animal Welfare Fund wherever possible. The situation with dogs is a little different from the cats, neutering of dogs is generally done through rescue centres and costs more than for the cats, so it is our objective to try and help the rescue centres through the Fund. Unlike the cats, the dogs are more unlikely to cope with living wild, so many are moved to Rescue Centres in Europe where proper homes are found for them. However there are cases, where dogs cannot cope with living a domestic lifestyle and have had to be returned to where they have been found after being neutered.
How Can You Help?
There are several ways in which you can help the Agni Animal Welfare Fund. You can make a donation to the fund or you can donate useful items for the animals, such as dog collars and leads (good strong substantial ones) flea collars, (not for cats - as being strays they can get caught) ) Drontal worming tablets, for cats and dogs, towels and blankets, chew toys or anything you can get in your suitcase that TUI, First Choice or Thomas Cook will allow you to carry on their aircraft!!!!
Donate - you can help the Welfare Fund by making a straight forward money donation through our website by donating any amount of money you wish using Paypal and we will use the money together with other donations as we think best at the time.
Remember that Agni Travel and Taverna Agni are paying all of the fund's costs, thus ALL of your donation will be used to help the animals here on Corfu.
Mobile phones, keys and money in the basket 'parakalo'
An inside story by Nathan.
It was August 2004 and due to the forthcoming Olympics, security was extra tight at Corfu airport's Domestic Flights check-in. Eleni and I were on our way to Athens, sadly not to view the games but for a medical check-up due to my health problems.
Your mobile phone 'parakalo'
The police officer was most insistent. 'We don't have one', I replied in my anglo-accented Greek. He decided to try again, in Greek, 'Kinito sas parakalo.' Like a luggage trolley ramming into his ankles, our blank expressions began to sink in. The true reality hit him we really did not have a mobile phone! He started to laugh, 'You must be the only ones I have seen go through the x-ray security who don't have a mobile phone!' It was at this point that I started to re-evaluate my anti-mobile phone phobia!
Despite my computing background, I have always disliked mobile phones and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the safety aspect microwaves frying the brain(!). But this hasn't put off Greece as a nation from embracing the mobile phone as an accessory must-have. Indeed according to some reports Greece has the highest ratio of mobile phones per national in Europe! I'm not sufficiently brave to state the obvious connection, especially as my wife will be reading this article!
To be honest, I have never needed a mobile phone. During the summer months I spend all my time either at the Taverna or the Agni Travel office. If people want to contact me, they can easily find me. Very occasionally I visit Corfu Town but that is the only time when I am out of contact. So, it came as a shock to many, not least myself, when I succumbed to the bombardment of media advertising (which assured me that I needed a mobile phone, it would improve my life and I would become dependent on it) so, for Christmas this year, guess what I bought myself?
'I'd like to buy a mobile phone please' (Take 1)
'No problem. We have 500 models to choose from. Cameras, video, email, fax, Internet, personal organizers, mini computers, GPS, G3, GPRS, VoIP '
'Actually, I just want one that I can use as a phone!'
It was all too confusing, I panicked, changed my mind and bought a memory card for my digital camera and fled!
'I really would like to buy a mobile phone please' (Take 2)
A few days later when I'd stopped hyperventilating, I went back into Corfu Town and tried again. The salesperson was very helpful and after all his efforts I ended up buying a 'Blackberry' which is geared towards sending and receiving emails and you can even use it as a phone!
So, has a mobile phone changed my life? Well, yes and no. Of course I can be contacted at any time of the day (or night), I can send and receive text messages and the email facility has really come into it's own for business purposes. I'm not quite dependent on it yet but time will tell!