Warm sunny peaceful greetings
from Corfu. A particularly romantic newsletter for you this month.
Last month you may remember that we reported
an unusually cold February, well the weather during March has been fabulous
- warm and sunny, making working down at the Taverna a joy. Locals though
are more concerned about the 'war'. Our Kafenion in the village reverberates
each morning with debates over who is right or wrong. Most though are just
getting on with their lives. The television hardly mentions it - unlike the
other European countries so I have been told. We have had a couple of
demonstrations in Corfu town, but most now are too busy getting their
Tavernas and bars ready for the season. As yet we are unsure if there will
be an effect on tourism this summer. Many locals are pessimistic, but some
holiday companies are reporting an increase in bookings - stating that Corfu
is one of the few 'safe' holiday destinations. I am sure many will be
looking forward to their holiday more than ever to 'get away' from it all.
The 10th of March was clean
Monday. Most locals headed for the beach. Expect picnics, dancing, homemade
wine, football! and even kite flying - all in the name of a religious
celebration of course! Basically a fast of no meat (or dairy products) until
Easter - most Greeks only do this for the one day though.
We invaded 'Saint Spiridon
Beach' (yes the one near the infamous Blue Bay Escape) - along with 5000
flying is hugely popular. Our friends from Kouloura had a kite that lifted
you off the ground - it was great fun!
We have been working hard down
at the Taverna over the last few months - but what a result! Having removed
all of the old exterior plaster, the original stonework underneath looks
fantastic. We have cleaned and re-pointed and kept some of the old features.
The veranda in front of the
taverna has been replaced with wooden beams and old style clay tiles.
Whenever we 'change' in Agni we always try to incorporate the traditional
styles and materials, and I am sure when you next agree that this year the
Taverna looks better than ever.
We plan to open for this
summer season at the end of April and of course I will add pictures to the
next news letter.
Many of you have been asking
how Olga's potatoes are getting on! As you can see they have started shooting.
If during your next Corfu
holiday you enter the nearest bar and screech at the top of your voice: "Spiros,
get me an Amstel" - you will look like a complete tourist! So to help
prevent you from making the above mistake we are here to help with a short
have met a Greek waiter who has told you that his name is 'Spiro' - yet you
have overheard others who have
called him something else. Lets tell you why:
Firstly, during your meal you
could correctly call him over saying 'Spiro, could we have another bottle of
But - if you are talking about
Spiro (not to him) then you need to add an 's' to the end of his name. For
example 'Shall we ask Spiros to bring over another bottle of Boutari?'
This is true of all male
Greek names. When you are talking to them - no 's' on the end. When you
are talking about them add an 's'. With this in mind, if you were speaking
to the Taverna owner, you would correctly say: "Costa, we think your waiter
Spiros is great fun". Of course you could ask your waiter: "Spiro, do you
like your boss Costas?"
Simple really, but please do
not go sending me emails asking why girls names stay the same!
Most Greek names are very long and
in everyday use are shortened:
Note: Spiros is often
shortened further to 'pp' (pronounced 'pea pea'). Try to remember this one
as using this expression with local Greeks will usually gain a smile.
Also for some strange reason,
people called Dimitris will often say their name is 'Jimmy'. So also 'Yanni'
who will say their name is John!
Confused? I hope not that was
the easy part!
Easter is more important to Greek people than
Christmas - so expect an exciting 'religious' time.
It all starts with midnight
mass (on the Saturday). Our family usually go to our nearby Church at Loustri. The locals and a few tourists
are outside with candles - even the non religious are surely moved.
Corfu Town explodes with pot smashing and fireworks -
and of course the usual shotgun being set off!
Easter morning is spent
preparing the feast! Spit roasted goat, lamb and wild boar are on the menu.
Our local Priest often comes
down to the Taverna - he says he can smell the cooking! After joining us for a meal, he gives the Taverna a quick blessing!
This year's Greek Easter (2003), is on Sunday the 27th of April. There are some
direct flights - contact us for details.
Spiros a local Greek in
conversation! To add a caption to this picture,
A Legendary Mansion near Roda.
This historic mansion is located in a quiet corner of Sfakera, a village
comprised of old stone houses and mazed with cobbled alleyways. The village
is 35 minutes by good road from Corfu Town. It has stunning panoramic sea
views and it is only three kilometres from the beach at Roda and four from
the region’s top shopping centre at Acharavi.
Entering, an arched gateway (one of two), leads into a large courtyard. On
the left is a ruined, roofless olive press, its machinery intact. The two-storey
house is on the right. The first floor accommodation is reached by way of a
bodzo, a traditional staircase leading to a veranda - a delightful outdoor
sitting area with clear views over the olive groves to the sea. Indoors,
there is a long hall stretching across the front of the property, which
leads to the two large reception rooms and to a kitchen with open fireplace.
Four bedrooms and a bathroom
lead off the reception rooms. Total floor area is approximately 260 square
metres. This part of the house is renovated and immediately habitable.
This storey in itself would make the mansion an excellent spacious family
home, but it is the ground floor that awakens the imagination for the
special possibilities the property offers.
The ground floor was used for storage of olive oil and other products of the
estate, and three of the huge stone oil containers remain in place in the
two cavernous rooms. Utilizing this space, the property could be converted
into two large apartments, dividing the existing property vertically. This
would give each apartment a large ground floor kitchen/living area, with an
internal staircase to bedrooms on the first floor.
Another possibility is conversion to a bed and breakfast, with up to ten
Additional accommodation could be created in the olive press area. These
buildings are in ruins but could be rebuilt to give a full-size house, or,
leaving the actual olive press as a garden feature, a smaller one. There are
also two other small buildings for storage and utility space.
With its 400 year old history, the Nikokavouras Mansion offers a unique
opportunity to own a piece of European history - and you will help to save a
piece of Corfu’s ancient heritage. The house needs some imagination and a
lot of loving care to make a home to be proud of. Call 0030 26630 64494 /
400 years ago, Nikos Kavouras (‘Nick the Crab’) ruled the village of Sfakera
with an iron fist in a kid glove. He had earned his name when leading his
men in a battle against Algerian pirates. During the fight he suffered a leg
injury which caused him afterwards to walk with a crab-like gait.
He always dressed in black and, riding his big black stallion, he was a
force to be reckoned with. In one legendary attack, the pirates, believing
him to be indestructible, fled back to their boat. But Kavouras’ men
captured them and took them prisoner. The prisoners were put in a covered
hole, and, with very little food or water, they suffered a slow death. A
month later Kavouras released five men and sent them home to spread the word
that no-one could gain by harassing the village. That was the end of the
Boat For Sale
Do you visit Corfu often -
then why not buy your own boat? We are selling our traditional wooden boat
taxi and replacing it with a larger one.
The boat was completely
refurbished two years ago with a new mahogany deck and stainless steel
railings. No license is required for private use. Offers in the region of:
50hp Ford diesel engine (only
2 years old)
Speed: 8 knots
Number of passengers: 11
(Lynn and Theo St Spiridon
Beach - Clean Monday)
Lynn's Travel Corner
Greetings from a warm and
glorious Corfu, and from Agni Travel!
For those of you who have never experienced on-looking a ‘Greek
Wedding’ and all the build up and preparations to it, this month I want to
share with you the Wedding of ‘Thomas and Athena’, our very good friends.
Thomas works at the family’s taverna, ‘Taverna Agni’ along side Theo, and
has done so now for four summers as an evening waiter. During the daytime he
works for the local water authority. Athena is a ‘Border Patrol Policewoman’
positioned at the Kassiopi division! They have been together now for almost
four years so it was about time that they tied the knot!
Up to, as recently as 20 years ago the parents of the bride and groom
arranged most marriages in Greece and to some extent this still happens in
the more remote areas. Today most couples meet, fall in love and get
married, and even though the dowry has legally been abolished since the
PASOK government Family Law reforms in 1983. This tradition is still
maintained in the majority of Greek weddings although not with the
traditional ‘Dowry Contract’ as used in the past.
The week preceding the wedding is full of traditional preparations. One of
the most certainly lucrative but also adhered to is the ‘krevati’ or making
of the bed! This usually happens two days before the wedding and is a big
gathering of the two families, relatives and friends. Lots of eating and
drinking is of course also customary, and followed by
two young unmarried girls to make up the double bed (similar to our
tradition of throwing the bride’s bouquet, it is believed that the first one
to get a pillowcase on will get married soon) and then all the people
present throw money on the bed including gold coins to make the marriage
After the bed has been
showered with money a young male child (or female!) is thrown on the bed in
hope that the first child from the union of the couple will also be a boy
(girl). The next item on the agenda amazed even me, as I have been to a lot
of ‘krevati makings’ here now and not seen this ‘village’ tradition (just
goes to show that every village has different traditions) the shooting of
Yes I am not joking; first it
was Thomas to fire a round of live ammunition from the rifle into the air,
followed closely by Athena! being a Police woman no one questioned her!!
Then a couple of very close relatives also had a go. This is to symbolise
the happiness of the couple and to let all the other villagers know it will
soon be their wedding day - and nothing to do with a 'shotgun wedding'!
Much later on after more drinking and merriment, the local Corfiot musicians
struck up their cords and began to play, hence dancing took place outside
the house with all who wanted to join in the fun! And what fun it was! Thank
goodness I had remembered my dancing lessons from the previous winter here.
The eve before the Wedding is when the couple have their separate ‘hen’ &
‘stag’ parties. This has only been introduced to Greece in the last 10
years, it is not a Corfiot tradition and so not every couple partakes in
this event. Thomas and the boys went to have a meal out in the country and
then more drinks and dancing was attempted on disco strip (Mandouki) just
outside of Corfu town, they had a roaring evening, Theo and the 'boys'
managed to find their way back home at about 5am the next morning and
staggered straight to bed!
Athena and the girls set off
for the ‘Privilege Club’ again on disco strip but the other end to where the
boys were heading. After a few drinks they crossed the road to the ‘Stathi’
Bazoukia Night Club. Wow, what an experience! A table reserved at the front
of the show gave them the best atmosphere possible, lots of singing,
drinking, and later, dancing took place. Much later on after having sore
feet from dancing, and a sore throat from all the singing, we decided it was
time to head off back home, getting in well after the boys! After all we
wanted some beauty sleep for the BIG DAY only a few hours away.
To my knowledge, all Greek Weddings take place in the late afternoon, and
never the morning, this giving everyone plenty of time to get to the
hairdressers etc. But, the majority of brides have a hairdresser and
beautician come to the family home to ‘apply the finishing touches’ to her
beauty, some brides also have a video made of their last few hours as a
single woman in the house with her family, and getting ready to meet her
‘husband to be’ at the church doors. Now, who would you really want to see
you with your hair in rollers?? And no make up on??
On the day of the wedding the groom awaits the bride outside the church with
his family and ‘koumbaras’ (equivalent of best man/matron of honour), the
bride arrives (it is customary to be at least 30 minutes late!) either in a
car decorated beautifully with flowers, or (if not far) walks to the church
behind local Corfiot musicians playing a selection of the well known old
village songs, with her family behind her.
Athena chose the latter
and as they entered the church the rifles began firing again from close
relatives and Athena’s work companions. Once inside the church, there are no
pews or chairs, everyone just gathers around and stands next to who ever
they want to hold a conversation with during the service! Athena was given
away by her father, and all the family members stand at the front of the
church, the bride’s side on the left, and the groom’s side on the right. A
table flanked by two large ‘lambades’ (very large decorated candles) already
awaits in front of the iconostasis. On it are the rings and the crowns (not
dissimilar to a halo) laying on a bed of sugar coated almonds, the New
Testament and a glass of red wine. The first part of the wedding involves
the betrothal, the rings are blessed and the ‘koumbaros’ exchange them
between the bride and groom three times. The second part, the sacrament,
culminates in the ceremony of the coronation when the priest crowns the
couple; these are also exchanged three times by the ‘koumbaros’.
The three exchanges of
rings and crowns signify the special grace the couple receive from the Holy
Trinity. Afterwards the couple drink three sips of wine from a common glass,
which symbolises the Marriage of Canaa and the beginning of their shared
life. The next little bit of the ceremony involves the ‘stamping on toes’,
this is where the priest asks ‘who is going to be the head of the family?’
(the stronger of the two) and this is the woman’s opportunity to stamp on
her new husbands toes before he does it to her! This caused a few giggles,
but according to Theo, now all the men let the women ‘stamp their toes’
After the congregation calmed
down, it is now time to undo your little bag of rice (that was given to you
during the first part of the ceremony) and get ready to throw it at the
Bride and Groom as they are led by the priest and followed by the
‘koumbaros’ around the marriage table three times, this is known as the
‘choros tou Isaia’ (dance of Isaiah), also sugared almonds are used to throw
at the couple, the rice signifying happiness and prosperity the almonds
fertility and the sugar the sweet memory of the occasion.
The floor of the church
scattered with rice!
After the ceremony a receiving line is formed either inside or outside the
church where wishes are extended to the newlyweds and their family by all
present. The wishes are usually ‘na zisete’ (may you have a long life), ‘na
sas zisoun’ to the parents and relatives (may they have a long life) and
‘panda axios’ (always worthy) to the koumbaros’. Upon leaving the church all
the guests are given a little pouch made with tulle and filled with sugared
almonds as a token of thanks (sometimes these are given as you are leaving
the evening reception instead of at the church).
Lots of Wedding photos are now
taken inside the church with both sides of the families and friends.
Wedding presents are usually taken to the house before the wedding; however,
Greeks seldom make wedding lists so it can be tricky knowing what to buy the
newlyweds, in this case an envelope containing money is given to them at the
receiving line after the ceremony. This is what the majority of the Greeks
give, it is easier than having to shop and purchase a present!
After the ceremony has finished we all get back into our cars and drive to
the reception, following the Bride and Groom’s car. Lots of honking of horns
is necessary when ever you pass through a village on the way to the
reception. It is letting the villagers know that you are a Wedding party in
Bearing in mind that an average Greek Wedding invites 200-300 people, it is
manic to try and park your car anywhere near the venue!
The wedding couple have
their own parking space specially reserved!
As the couple are having more
photos taken, the rest of us find our tables inside. We sit any where; no
seating plan is required as with in England. Drinks are already on the
table, from ouzo, wine, water, soft drinks and beers you help yourself all
night long. Just put up your hand to a passing waiter and wave your empty
bottle at him, he will refill immediately. Once the couple enter the room,
the live band starts up, and everyone cheers very loudly, tapping their
knife against their wine glass – this is to symbolise the guests want the
newlyweds to ‘kiss’. This tradition will happen all night long at various
different intervals, when ever someone from the Wedding party starts to tap
their glass – everyone else joins in with them, making a loud shrill noise
echoing around the room, only stopping once the Bride and Groom have stood
up and ‘kissed’ one another.
A meze of starters is handed
out to every one, as well as fresh bread, tatziki and taromasalata. The band
plays throughout the evening, and the Bride and Groom of course have the
first dance, followed by the close family, and then its anyone’s turn, you
just have to put your knife and fork down and get on that dance floor! I
love the dancing, and only go back to my seat once I am out of breath. The
rest of the food is served sigar sigar (slowly, slowly) throughout the
evening, with the cutting of the many cakes round about 11pm! The cakes are
wheeled onto the dance floor, and the Bride and Groom make a cut on each
cake, and a champagne toast to each other, and then are joined by their two
koumbaros. They now take the first pieces of the cut cake (cream cake not
fruit) and serve it to each other. The cake and champagne is served out to
everyone and the dancing begins again. The evening closes around 2am the
next morning and on your departure, as you are thanking the couple and
saying your good byes, the Bride gives you each a ‘bon bon’ as a souvenir
from their special day (pouch filled with sugared almonds).
What a lovely day we all had!
Now, getting back to Agni Travel. This month I would like to show you three
very different properties we have on our site :- Villa de Loulia, in
Peroulades (rooms Pandora & Persephone), Geronimos House Lower level in
Loustri, and Villa Kendroma just on the outskirts of Kendroma.
Villa De Loulia
Firstly, Villa de Loulia in Peroulades. This majestic converted Mansion
House with Venetian architecture has been lovingly restored by Loukia, whose
family are originally from Athens, she decided to branch away from the
hectic life there and opt for a more peaceful location as well as a
challenge. It has taken her three years to complete it to her liking, and it
is now a listed building.
Agni Travel can offer you two
of the nine rooms she has: Pandora is a delightful twin bedded en-suite room
on the ground floor at Villa de Loulia, offering a pool view. The pastel
blue shades on the bedroom wall give it a cool and airy feel, whilst the
bright yellows, blues and whites in the shower room make it feel spacious
The shower room has a walk in
type shower with curved wall, WC, hand basin, large mirror and wall mounted
hairdryer with shaving socket, whilst the room offers a dressing table with
mirror, fridge/mini bar, TV and telephone. Pandora is on a room only basis,
but a local home-made breakfast is available extra from Loukia and taken
each morning from the separate breakfast room on looking the swimming pool
and bar area.
For more details,
Persephone is our other bedroom at Villa de Loulia; it is a double bed base
with twin mattress on top, making the bed nice and wide. This is also on the
ground floor and overlooks the swimming pool and breakfast room. The bright
yellow and rose pink interior makes this room very cheerful and warm,
showing off some of the natural stone work in the walls and by the bed
sides, it includes a table with mirror, fridge/mini bar, TV and telephone.
It also has an en-suite shower room, in pastel green and blue tiles with a
walk in shower, WC, hand basin, large mirror with wall mounted hairdryer and
This property is ideal for those of you who enjoy either a pre breakfast
stroll, or an early evening meander around the village and narrow streets
taking in the slow pace of the local life. Alternatively, why not just
unwind over a glass or two of wine followed by one of the many local Corfiot
dishes that can be prepared and cooked by Loukia’s mother for your optional
evening meal overlooking the swimming pool. The breakfasts are all home made
dishes, and again typically Corfiot, with meats, cheeses, rice puddings,
fresh fruit, jams and preserves for your toast, washed down with plenty of
tea, coffee or fresh juices and a bargain at only 13 euros each per day.
If you want a little more activity, then a short drive to Sidari will bring
you all the activity you could ever want, not forgetting the ‘Canal d’Amour’
in the. rock formations here. Alternatively, a short walk or drive from the
villa to ‘Sunset Beach’ or ‘Cape Drastis’ will show you how scenic this
corner of Corfu really is. This is composed of cliffs surrounding small
coves, with offshore rocks and distant views to the islands of Othoni,
Mathraki and Erikoussa. Truly a painters and walkers paradise!
Secondly, Geronimos House 'Lower' in Loustri. This quiet and peaceful
village is home to Geronimos House with its impressive views from both
levels. The lower level offers front and rear balconies at ground level, and
just a few steps to the side door.
Once inside the large
open cool lounge and kitchen area, your eyes are drawn to the view beyond
the village and focus on Kalami and the Albanian mountains across the ever
so near waters.
The house is spacious
and well equipped, making it ideal for a small family or friends who like to
spread out. It has three bedrooms (one double and two twins), one bathroom
and a separate WC washroom all on the same level. We feel that the rear
balcony and lounge will be the most used rooms by all as they open up the
whole house, giving it a feeling of friendly yet relaxed holidays and
Just opposite the house is the
Geronimos Apartments and swimming pool, where you can take a dip any time of
the day and admire the view overlooking in the opposite direction down to
Agni Bay. The village has its own Bakery which is also the local corner shop
selling anything from cheese to alcohol, to chocolate, potatoes and
cigarettes. This is the general meeting place for all the local men & women
to catch up on any news and gossips in the area. Across the road from the
bakery is Loustri Church, this is wonderful inside and the papas is very
friendly although he does not speak much English, that does not stop he
chatting away to you! If you walk down the village in the other direction
you will pass the old primary school and play ground – still with an odd
swing and slide there. The school closed once the big area school opened in
Kassiopi, and then it was the local Town Hall until last year when the
government built a new one above Kouloura.
There is a pathway from the village leading you down to Agni Bay, taking
about 10 mins to amble down, but a little longer to climb back up, beware;
sensible shoes are needed on this track – no high heels!
Lastly, I want to talk about ‘Villa Kendroma’ just out of the village
Kendroma. The Villa seems to be perched on the hill side over looking the
Albanian mountains and across to Corfu town and Vidos Island in the other
direction. It is a spacious, but simple villa offering the seclusion from
the village, but yet only a stones throw from the local bus stop to take you
either way into Corfu town or up to Kassiopi for a little more ‘life’ if
required. A lovely gentle walk down the road that leads you to Agni Bay is a
must, and once you are down in the bay, the waters are so inviting you will
be swimming and snorkelling in no time. With a selection of tavernas to be
had, the choice is always difficult; making sure you will return and sample
them all! The Villa comprises of three bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and large
A short walk up the road
brings you to the village of ‘Kendroma’, the kafenion and the ‘square.’ You
may experience some village life here depending on what time you pass! The
men are drinking ouzo from early in the morning outside the kafenion, whilst
the women are purchasing their fresh fruit and veg from the local van in the
square. You can always tell when the fish man is on his way as all the
neighbouring cats wake up and get in line for their free feed. Once the
morning chat is over then its back to their homes and lunch is to be
prepared, leaving the village square deserted until later in the day when
the kafenion is open again.
Villa Kendroma awaits you! For
If you would like to reserve any of the above
properties or require further information, please do not hesitate to contact