Greetings from Corfu. Spring is here.
Warm sunny days bless the olive groves and locals
prepare for the summer season.
But it has not always been that tranquil!
On Sunday the 7th of March, Greeks went to the
polls to elect a new 300 seat parliament. Voting was
from 7am to 7pm at polling stations across the country.
Some 9.79 million people are registered to vote. This
number is disproportionately large as Greece only has a
population of 11 million. Many voters live abroad, some
have died (yet their name is still on the electoral
list), and some 48,000 voters are registered twice!
People have to vote where they are registered -
often where they were born. This means that many voters
traveled to their home towns and villages. Airports,
ferries, trains and roads were congested.
The election battle was between the Panhellenic
Socialist Movement (PASOK) who won 43.79 percent of the
vote in 2000 and the New Democracy Party (ND) who came
close second with 42.74. The 2004 result was very
difficult to predict, especially as opinion polls were
banned two weeks before the election!
Greek Socialists are swept from power.
Conservatives recapture power after a decade and act
quickly to dispel fears over Olympic preparations.
Costas Karamanlis will be Greece's youngest-ever
The following is a
thought-provoking comparision between the holidays
offered by two diverse holiday destinations - Greece and
Having lived in Greece
for over ten years running the Taverna serving
holidaymakers; having arranged hundreds of holidays to
Corfu with our 'Agni Travel'; it was time for my turn!
Eleni, Aphrodite and I were planning our first family
holiday. To be fair this had come as a surprise. One
glorious day while I was busy down at the Taverna
finishing some tiling in the kitchen, the phone rang. It
was my father. After the usual small-talk about weather,
work and family, he said "Fancy joining me on a skiing
holiday? I'm going to Bulgaria in March." I started
picking at semi-hardened tile glue that was trying
hard to become a permanent addition to my fingers.
Clearly father realised I was not enthusiastic, but he
continued "It's not far from you. According to my atlas
- only a couple of inches." Obviously, I was not
paying much attention during my geography class when we
studied Europe - because I had no idea that Northern
Greece bordered Bulgaria. Indeed closer inspection via
my Michelin road map places Bulgaria only 400km
North-East of Igumonitsas - the mainland port opposite
So the holiday was
agreed. My father booked a 4 star hotel in the Bulgarian
Ski resort of Borovets - all we had to do now, was find
out how to get there! With my years of creating and
adding to this web site - the Corfu travel Guide, I
realised that a similar site (but for Bulgaria) would tell
me everything I needed to know. I started searching
Google: "Bulgria Ski" I entered. Nothing much was
returned. Plenty of links to 2* hotels and restaurants
like the 'Happy Duck'. The results were not very
helpful or encouraging.
Firstly of course we had
to get there. The most direct route
was: Ferry from Corfu to the mainland. Drive to Thessaloniki, then drive North to the Greek
border. Finally, drive to the ski resort. This drive, I
calculated (including stops) would be 16 hours. The
small mountain roads not facilitating a quicker journey.
The alternative was to fly. Corfu - Athens, then Athens
- Sofia (capital of Bulgaria) then a one hour taxi ride
to the resort. this is what we decided. Flying to Athens from Corfu is
straight forward affair as regular domestic flights
service the island ferrying Athenians and Corfiots to
and fro. Athens to Sofia was a different matter. There
was a long delay while we waited for the connection
flight. The majority of the passengers were business
people. Arrival into Sofia was a shock - like walking
into a 'James Bond' set. Well built guards wielding high
powered automatic weapons greeted us - not even angelic Aphrodite could lower their guard and make them smile.
We came out of customs
unscathed. Our taxi was waiting - 'Hello, I'm Costas' he
declared. 'You're Greek?' Eleni enquired. It turned out
that Costas was married to a Bulgarian local and had
lived here for 20 years. This could only happen to us!
He walked us to his waiting taxi, a gleaming new
Mercedes which looked out of place among the other
battered cars in the car park.
We sped away from the
airport and Costas gave a running commentary, pointing
out the poverty and crime ridden streets. You should not
drive at night he said. Armed gangs sometimes hold up
taxis. This was not reassuring as it was already dusk.
Fortunately the journey to the resort of Borovets would
not take long as Costas only had one speed - flat out!
The hour or so journey took us up winding mountain
roads, speckled liberally with pot-holes. Costas chatted
about his car. It was 'specially imported' from Germany
and had only one careful owner - who might be interested
to learn where their car is now! You are not
seeing the true Bulgaria he emphasized - the area around
the ski resort has money - it didn't look that way to us
when we arrived.
Here we are, Costas announced. The
'Hotel Rila' four star, one of the best hotels in
Bulgaria he enthused. We entered the car park and the
hotel loomed up ahead. It looked like a disused power
station that had been converted into a military
Eleni refused to get out
of the taxi. Are you sure this place? Don't worry, this
is the back Costas comforted. I'll nip in and check they
have your reservation. We waited a painful 15 minutes
until he returned. No problem, they have your room. I'll
help you with your bags. We pushed through the heavy
entrance doors. Inside it was dark and we must have
entered into the basement.
To our left was the 'show
bar' various scantily clad girls clinging to the walls
offering their wares! We climbed the stairs as the
lift was out of order, and entered the hotel lounge -
decorated in traditional communist style! Eleni was in
tears. This time it really was from a James Bond movie!
The next morning, we met
up with my father. He too had arrived in the night but
much later than us. Clearly he was disappointed and he
had already 'experienced' the dinning room; there was
nothing edible he recognized. Still he consoled the
rooms are fine (they were), we are here for skiing and
it is cheap! It turned out that this would be the
'expression' of the holiday. Every skier we spoke to
said 'it's not very good is it, but it is cheap! (see
We joined the queue at the local ski hire
shop. One of the enjoyable aspects of any foreign
holiday is meeting the locals and observing their
customs. At the end of the queue, we were greeted by a
large 'bouncer' type Bulgarian local. 'WHAT SIZE?'
she grunted. This was our first real introduction to the
locals and sorry to say, but it did not improve.
If we were looking for an 'Alpine'
experience, we were going to be disappointed. Putting up
with a dated hotel, slightly hostile locals and poor
food would all be worth it if it was 'cheap' and
there was good skiing. Unfortunately the latter proved
not to be true. Maybe we were not being fair.
My father and I have skied for many years
and require more challenging slopes than a beginner.
Perhaps we could have overlooked the limited skiing if
it was not for the lift queues. The nursery slopes
opposite the hotel were serviced by a large chairlift -
with very little queuing. Access to the main slopes
though was by a gondola style lift that required over a
one hour wait. Worse, because of poor design (and snow)
at the end of your time skiing you needed to queue and
take the lift back down - another hour or so. Meeting
with Eleni and Aphrodite for lunch proved very difficult
and time consuming.
Having decided that that hotel food was
more dangerous than the slopes, we ate out. Fortunately
we found some local eating places and as we were often
reminded - they were cheap!
Everyone we met kept using that
justifying expression - not very good is it, but it is
cheap. The week went by. The snow did not improve, but
we did manage to find the best slopes and use the lifts
at quieter times.
We tried most of the restaurants.
"The Red Lion", "The Black Cat", "The London Buzz Bar".
We avoided the numerous 'strip' bars which seemed out of
place in resort that catered for families. Things
improved and by the end of the week, although we were
looking forward to going home, and dad was suffering
from a high-speed collision with a local on the slopes,
we had enjoyed ourselves and it had proven a relaxing
We departed and said goodbye to dad - he
still had another day of skiing left. Costas our taxi
driver slid reassuringly into the car park and greeted
us with open arms. He eagerly asked about our holiday
and while he drove he listened and nodded as we told our
Due to Costas's remarkable driving skills
(and despite 3 near misses) we arrived to Sofia ahead of
schedule. Costas suggested a tour of the capital - with
apprehension we agreed.
Actually we were impressed. During the
communist era, many fine buildings, libraries,
universities, museums and even churches had been
Costas lamented though. With the fall of
communism, many have become neglected. In fact,
many Bulgarians actually preferred communism. Modern day
democracy and capitalism has opened the way for for the
likes of Costas to run their own business, but at the
cost of working many hours per day and 7 days per week.
Clearly, this lifestyle is not welcomed by everyone!
The journey and flight from Sofia to
Athens was uneventful, but what a treat to arrive back
into Greece - even the customs officials greeted us with
a welcoming smile.
Due to arriving late in the evening, we
had to stay overnight in Athens and then catch the
morning flight to Corfu. The new Athens airport is
superb but located some distance from the capital. We
decided to stay at the airport in the "Athens Sofitel"
After a week in an excommunist 4 star hotel, this was a
treat. Friendly people, top service with nothing too
much trouble - now I know why people enjoy Greece and
the hospitality her people have to offer. The Sofitel
was an excellent hotel and experience. A perfect way to
end our holiday but it was not cheap! This led me to
wonder what the real meaning of 'cheap' - a term that
had been overused during our holiday - really was? The
Sofitel was expensive and yet we felt it offered real
value for money - well worth spending a little more to
get something memorable.
Nathan's Final Thoughts
Bulgaria is trying to break into the
tourist market and increase the number of people
visiting. It is aiming at the lower end of the market.
Wasn't this Greece's position 20 years ago? In those
years, Greece offered basic accommodation, limited
facilities, poor food (not to mention the wine) but it
was cheap! Gradually the prices have risen (the Euro
hasn't helped) - but so have the improvements. Greece is
now not a budget location - not cheap. So does it offer
The increasing number of regular (repeat)
visitors would indicate that this is so. Lets hope that
Greece continues to attract tourists - but not those who
are looking for a cheap holiday and be prepared to
compromise. No! Let those who like us at the Sofitel,
being prepared to spend a little more and be rewarded by
a superb holiday experience.
This inscription was on our bathroom
Glad we didn't go self catering -
next time we will be traveling with Agni Travel!
'Cheap' is an adjective I usually refrain
from using. This is because it can convey different
means and an is an accurate method of expressing your
'Cheap' could mean inexpensive
'Cheap' as in nasty.
The problem is the word 'cheap' does not
convey value. Thus I find value-for-money is a much more
useful expression. Bulgaria wasn't cheap, it offered
good value for money to the novice skier.
We have been busy - very busy. Eleni now has a
new kitchen with new equipment and is excitedly trying extra recipes for our
summer 2004 opening date, which is rapidly approaching. Outside, we have added a
new veranda, which was carefully constructed from old timbers to blend in with
the traditional stone character of the Taverna. Agni Bay waits quietly for the
summer season, but I cannot wait!
Agni Travel - Travel Tips
Everyone enjoys the
sunshine that comes hand in hand with a
well-deserved Greek island holiday. But, painful
sunburn or even sunstroke are sometimes the downfall
to long days on the beach rather than a bronzed
look! If you have sensitive skin or children, then
follow our step-by-step guide to keeping your skin
safe in the sun during your Corfu holiday.
Wear a high factor sun cream. This may seem obvious,
but many people caught in the excitement of being on
holiday forget to apply sun cream, and burn on their
first day abroad. Sun cream factor 15 and above is
Cover up for long periods in the sun. If you plan to
go sightseeing around the island, carry or wear a
thin top, trousers or sarong as well as wearing sun
Drink plenty of water. The sun can be very
dehydrating (not to mention the drinking from the
night before), the body will sweat more, and so lose
moisture. When driving or walking any distance, try
and carry a bottle of water with you, just incase
you find yourself down a narrow mountain track
with no nearby watering hole!
Apply sun cream to your whole body before leaving
your accommodation. It is a good idea to apply the
cream before dressing, as you are less likely to
miss any patches of skin.
Places to apply extra cream to when in the sun are:
the nose, tops of the ears, the forehead, chin,
neck, shoulders, knees and the top of the feet.
These places on the body are most likely to be in
contact with the sun during days out.
Re-apply sun cream before and after swimming and at
least every two hours. Water can magnify the effects
of the sun and so increase its strength. Many are
often burnt when in the water as they do not feel
Don't sit in direct sunshine during the hottest
parts of the day. Try to select a beach with some
shade, or take some with you.
Pay attention to your skin. if you notice your skin
changing colour or going red, get out of the sun.
Wear a hat. This will delay you from becoming
dehydrated and may stop your face and neck from
Don't fall asleep in the sun. Most people become
burnt while they are asleep. If after lunch you feel
drowsy (!) make sure you are in the shade.
Take all these precautions even if it seems cloudy -
you can still burn out of direct sunshine, as UV
rays permeate cloud cover.
Last of all, don't forget to take the sun cream with
you! Even if it is just to the shops.
Villa Kalithea -
Sleeps 4-6, from 798 Euros per week
Perched up high on the hillside,
above the village of Nissaki and
amongst the olive trees, is the
peaceful hamlet of Apolysies. Its
elevated position offers stunning
panoramic views over the North East
coastline and sea to Corfu town.
Kalithea's bedrooms are on two
levels with the one twin and a
double bedroom on the top taking
full advantage of the sea views from
Villa Kalithea, Nissaki
Kerasia Beach Villas - Kerasia
Sleeps 2-4 each, from 441 Euros per week
This unique villa positioned in a stunning location, with direct access to
one of the north east coast’s best (blue flagged) beaches, is well sought
after. Kerasia is a long and curved elegant bay, fringed with lofty trees
almost hiding the few buildings behind this lovely shore. With clear sea and
good swimming this is perfect for a mid morning dip or snorkel.
Villa Tassos - Kerasia
Sleeps 2-6 people
From 665 Euros per week
Villa Tassos is located just opposite
the Rothschild Estate! Regulars to the
area include Lord Sainsbury and Prince
Charles. You are unlikely to be
disturbed by these celebrities though as
Villa Tassos is in a secluded location
above them. The villa is fully
air-conditioning and a substantial
veranda making quiet alfresco dinning a
Villa Nikos, Vingla, above Kalami
From 686 Euros per week
Villa Nikos, nestles amongst an
olive grove high above Kalami bay. The location
is secluded, very private and offers outstanding
sea views. The villa has been carefully divided
into three apartments, which share the large
pool and grounds.
Villa Nikos, above Kalami
An insight to the workings and personalities of our church
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, CORFU.
The April issue of 'Pulse':
April Corfu Pulse
the Corfu Trail
The Corfu Trail is a long-distance footpath which runs the length of Britain’s
favourite Greek island. It runs from Arkoudillas at Corfu’s southernmost tip to
Cape Agia Ekaterini at its northernmost point. It meanders through all the
island’s rural municipalities and, avoiding heavily developed areas, takes in
beauty spots, biotopes, beaches, picturesque villages, monuments, monasteries
and diverse landscapes.
The Trail was financed partly by the European Union’s Interreg II programme and
partly from a private source on the island. Works included clearing of blocked
paths, waymarking and construction of information stands at the start, centre
and end of the route. No new footpaths were created since the Trail uses rights
of way already in existence.
Signs are yellow aluminum and are attached to trees, walls and other permanent
structures, supplemented in places by yellow paint markers. An official guide
book is available.
The Trail is administered by a non-profit-making trust, and income from walkers,
who will be asked for a small contribution, and from souvenirs and guide books,
will be ploughed back into maintenance and improvements to infrastructure.
For more information, see the Corfu Trail website:
Day 1 Kavos to Lefkimmi. Starting from
just south of Kavos, you head out on a track to the southern tip of Corfu, where
the ruined monastery of Arkoudillas stands. A footpath leads down to the
island’s southernmost beach, a seemingly endless stretch of golden sand. Leaving
the beach at its northern end, you follow tracks to Spartera. Your way now leads
along shady olive grove tracks and through open country to Lefkimmi, where
riverside tavernas tempt you for a rest. (5-6 hours walking)
Highlights: Arkoudillas Monastery, Lefkimmi River
Picturesque Villages: Lefkimmi
Day 2 Lefkimmi to Santa Barbara. Setting
out alongside the river, you approach the sea, and soon pass the Venetian salt
works, now restored. You follow the seashore and then head inland along olive
grove tracks to Perivoli, then on to another of the west coast’s spectacular
beaches at Santa Barbara. (4 hours walking)
Highlights: Venetian Salt Works
Picturesque Villages: Perivoli
Day 3 Santa Barbara to Paramonas. A day of
almost level walking during which you follow the beach, passing the
unpicturesque resort of Agios Georgios, but soon leaving ‘civilization’ again.
The beach north of the resort was used for scenes in the Bond film ‘For Your
Eyes Only’. Your way leads on through sand dunes covered with a forest of
juniper trees. Then, crossing a footbridge, you reach Lake Korission, where you
are sure to see a variety of wild birds. The Trail follows tracks and a section
of road to reach Paramonas. (5-6 hours walking)
Highlights: Issos Forest, Lake Korission
Day 4 Paramonas to Stavros. A sharp climb
early in the walk takes you over the coastal ridge, with great views, and inland
to the villages of Ano and Kato Pavliana. Footpaths and tracks take you down
through Vouniatades, then you cross the Messongi River Valley by way of tracks
through olive groves and across heathland. Through Strongili, the Trail heads
uphill again, on an old cobbled way which leads to Komianata and Stavros. (6
Picturesque Villages: Vouniatades, Komianata
Day 5 Stavros to Pelekas. The walk starts
with a delightful footpath skirting Agii Deka Mountain, and leading to Ano
Garouna, from where you make a very sharp ascent to the summit of Agii Deka,
Corfu’s second highest peak. Here, an abandoned monastery in a walled garden
makes an ideal rest stop. Your way continues down a cobbled mule path to Agii
Deka village then along minor roads and tracks to Sinarades, where you might
like to visit the Folk Museum (depending on opening times) and admire the
picturesque architecture of this large village. Alleyways and a track lead to
Aerostato, one of the island’s most famous viewpoints, then the Trail leads
along undulating tracks with very fine views over the west coast and inland to
Pelekas. (6-7 hours walking)
Highlights: Agii Deka Summit, Sinarades Folk Museum, Aerostato
Picturesque Villages: Ano Garouna, Agii Deka, Sinarades
Day 6 Pelekas to Liapades. Half an hour’s
downhill walk takes you to Myrtiotissa, ‘the loveliest beach in the world’ (now
used by nudists). Climbing now, you have to regain the height you have lost (and
more!), with a steep ascent on a gravel and concrete track. The west coast views
are spectacular. Passing the village of Vatos, the terrain levels out and your
way follows the bank of the Ropa River, bordered by pastures and willow trees.
Leaving the river, the Trail ascends into olive-blanketed hills, where tracks
lead to Liapades, an ancient village full of lovely old mansion houses. (5-6
Highlights: Myrtiotissa Monastery, Ropa Valley
Picturesque Villages: Liapades
Day 7 Liapades to Agios Georgiou. First, a
very difficult footpath across a headland high above the sea takes you to
Paleokastritsa. You quickly cross the main resort road and head into the hills
again, using a network of lovely cobbled footpaths. A climb of about an hour
takes you to Lakones and Bella Vista (‘the best view in Europe’). One kilometre
of unavoidable, sometimes busy, road here, and the Trail heads across olive
groves to Krini, through ‘Lily Valley’ and on down one of Greece’s most
remarkable footpaths, which zig zags down a sheer cliff. The way continues down
an olive grove track and along the seafront to the resort of Agios Georgiou. (5
Highlights: Bella Vista, Angelokastro (off route), Cliff Pathway
Picturesque Villages: Lakones, Krini
Day 8 Agios Georgiou to Ringini. A sharp
climb from Agios Georgiou to the village of Prinilas starts the walk. Then you
descend to the picturesque village of Pagi. Tracks and a quiet road take you
through agricultural land alongside the Megapotamos River and over the ridge
through Aspiotades to the two sprawling villages of Agros and Agios Athanasios,
where your way leads through the alleyways. Leaving the villages, a quiet road
leads past a wealthy monastery, and tracks take you on to the road junction at
Ringini. (4-5 hours walking)
Highlights: Agios Athanasios Monastery
Picturesque Villages: Pagi, Agros
Day 9 Ringini to Spartillas. Starting from
Ringini, you take the unmade road to Valanion, a village deep in the middle of
nowhere. Then tracks funnel you up a deep valley. Along a cobbled path, you
enter Sokraki, where the village square with its happy atmosphere calls for a
stop. The Trail then follows tracks and paths through forest and cultivated land
Picturesque Villages: Sokraki, Spartillas
Day 10 Spartillas to Kaminaki. Today the
real mountain terrain beckons. You start at Spartillas, where you are
immediately on a steep mountain footpath climbing a gully to a fantastic
viewpoint at Taxiarchis Chapel - a ruin with fresco-covered walls. Continuing
along the footpath, you pass through a ‘tunnel’ of ilex trees then ascend
further to cross the ‘Karst Plateau’, Corfu’s wildest scenery. Your way now
takes you under the summit of Pantokrator. Descending now on a mountain track
with fine views, you reach the high col of the main ridge, where both the
northern and southern sections of Corfu are visible. A very rough descent leads
to the spooky deserted village of Old Sinies. Then, using tracks and cobbled
mule paths, you descend a wide valley - but it’s not all downhill. A high
mountain track takes you steadily back uphill again, offering an almost aerial
view of the coastline below. Descending mountain paths and cobbled ways, the
Trail reaches the sea at Kaminaki.
Highlights: Taxiarchis Chapel, Karst Plateau, Old Sinies
Picturesque Villages: Old Sinies, Katavolos, Kaminaki
Day 11 Kaminaki to Agios Spiridon. Leaving
Kaminaki, you follow the picturesque coastal footpath. Then you need three hours
of almost continuous ascent to reach the high col again. The ascent was by way
of cobbled, graded footpaths and a high mountain track, and took you through
three mountain villages - Porta, Santa and deserted, stone-built Mengoulas.
After the col a rough footpath descends to one of the walk’s highlights, Old
Perithia - a semi-ruined Byzantine village located in a high valley. Onwards,
the Trail descends a narrow valley on a rough mule track, plunges through thick
forest, then continues down on paths and tracks past little settlements to the
northern coastal plain. You reach the sea at Almiros and follow the beach to the
the wild, bare headland which is Corfu’s northernmost point, where a rough
clifftop path takes you to the end of the Trail at Saint Spiridon Beach.
Highlights: Old Perithia, Cape Agia Ekaterini, Lake Antinioti
Picturesque Villages: Kentroma, Mengoulas, Old Perithia
Motor Boat Hire in Corfu
Travel by small, self-drive motorboat has long been a
popular and for many preferable way to ‘get about’ the
North East Coast of Corfu. Imagine motoring up the
coast, at your own pace, the sea breeze fending off the
summer heat while you make your way to a sea-side market
or gift shop for your holiday essentials and souvenirs.
Perhaps then visiting a favourite secluded beach, only
approachable by sea, for a spot of swimming, snorkelling
or quiet sunbathing. When it all gets too much up anchor
and motor away to one of the many seaside tavernas for
refreshments and a long, leisurely lunch.
While many regular visitors are ‘old hands’ to boating,
other regulars and newcomers often look on hesitantly
wondering if boating is within their grasp having never
done it before. Many wonder if they need a license, is
it expensive, is it dangerous, will there be a lesson on
how to drive the boat. Their fears are often fuelled by
having been witness, from the safe vantage point of
their favourite taverna table, to various episodes of
‘marine magic’ by approaching boats.
It is possible for most people (admittedly it isn’t
everyone’s cup of tea) to grasp the basics of boat
handling. However, it has to be said that the onus is on
the boat rental company to ensure that the correct
tuition, information, advice and equipment is provided
to ensure safe and enjoyable ‘plain sailing’!
What to look for in a reputable company?
Here is a checklist of a few important points to check
on when hiring a boat:
IS THE RENTAL COMPANY LICENSED?
Every boat hire company has to have a license to
operate. This license is issued by the Port Police
Authority in agreement with the local Municipality.
Licenses are renewed every year when an inspection has
taken place, by the Port Authorities, to ensure that all
boats are in good order and fully equipped with the
statutory life-saving equipment. These licenses, by law,
must be displayed in each boat.
ARE LIFE-SAVING AND OTHER ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT PROVIDED?
Boats should be equipped, at the very least, with oars,
life-jackets, flairs, a fire extinguisher, first aid
kit, small life raft and life belt, a sun canopy, a good
anchor with plenty of rope, spare fuel and boarding
ladders for swimming.
IS BASIC INSTRUCTION PROVIDED?
A good basic and practical instruction on how to operate
a motorboat should include the location and use of
life-saving equipment, how to start and stop the engine,
location of fuel, how to drive the boat and docking
procedure using an anchor.
IS ENOUGH INFORMATION PROVIDED?
As well as instruction, useful information on the local
area, the limits of travel by law and fuel provided,
general sea laws and emergency procedures and telephone
number should also be provided.
ARE THE BOATS IN GOOD CONDITION?
Even those new to boating will be able to judge for them
selves if a boat is well looked after. Boats should be
clean, start easily and reasonably dry inside.
WHAT KIND OF BOAT CAN I HIRE?
Most companies rent 4.5metre –5metre open boats with
10hp-30hp engines. Any boat with over 30hp requires the
driver to have a Powerboat Handling License to level two
standard. The international equivalent is the
International Helmsman Certificate and in the UK this
can be obtained through the Royal Yachting Association.
The size of boat and engine required will depend on how
many people are in your party and how far you want to
travel. Each boat will be licensed for up to a certain
amount of passengers, usually 5 to 7 depending on make
and size. Check with the rental company that you are not
exceeding the legal amount.
For those who like the thrill of a speed boat with a
larger engine, there are some companies who do have
these boats available to the public provided a Helmsman
Certificate can be produced by the renter.
WHERE CAN I GO?
The legal restriction to travelling by motor boat is
that you must go no further than one and a half miles
offshore and no further than a three to four mile radius
(depending on local weather and sea conditions) from the
departure point. The rental company should provide a
chart or instruction on the limit of travel. There are
no private beaches in Greece so you are free to stop
anywhere along the coast.
The above report was written by HARRIS KALAMI BOATS. For
several years they have provided boats for rent to the
highest possible standard, ensuring that clients are
properly instructed and given all essential and relevant
information. For a full list of information and
instruction provided, as well as a pictorial map of the
area and prices, please visit their website:
To add a caption to this photo, follow this
April Corfu Caption Competition
Ode to Taverna Agni
(With apologies to
We came, we saw, it conquered……
That taverna in the bay,
Nestled amidst blue skies and sea,
One glorious sunny day
We nervously approached the spot
Our vessel large and clumsy
The pontoon beckoned to us
It looked so frail and flimsy
No need to fear - good help was near
A waiter strong and bold
Hastened to our assistance
as in the days of old
He took our lines, he held us fast
He gave us faith and courage
The mooring line held fast and true
No need for any worries
We hurried in to such a feast
Our eyes forsook our bellies
A lavish feast of meats and fish
and wines, and crepes and jellies ( Ah! those crepes and apple fritters)
Twas all so overwhelming
It was much more than sufficient
The lovely view, the pleasant chat
the service so efficient
But good things pass and we must go
Though none of us left leaner
So many thanks until next time
From all on… ‘ BALIMENA’
BEYOND OUR VISION - VILLA MICHAEL
Friends of ours "Alan and Bre" are
building their holiday home high above Agios Stephanos. The following gives an
insight into their progress.
24th February – 4th March 2004
With the Christmas and New Year break well and truly over, it was time to turn
our thoughts to our February visit to Corfu and the excitement of seeing how our
Villa had progressed over the winter months. We were itching to see our friends
Korina, Spiros and family who had kindly offered to let us stay with them during
our visit. We were also hoping to be able to spend some time with Nathan, Eleni
and mischievous but adorable Aphrodite before they left for a well-deserved
break, a Skiing holiday in Bulgaria.
So what was on the agenda?
We had already received a breakdown of the work completed and were more than
delighted when we arrived on site, albeit in torrential rain, to see that the
building had progressed well. The ground floor bedrooms and bathrooms were
divided and bricked in and the ceiling/floors constructed. Also, the pool was
three quarters finished and the water tank, the size of our lounge, was in
Here’s the progress so far: -
When we were in Agni in October the question was raised regarding water storage.
We were advised that, despite the high initial cost of installing a water tank,
in the long term it was well worth having. Although Corfu is renowned for its
intensive rainfall during the winter, shortage of water can prove to be
problematical in the summer months. The cost of the tank was 10,000 Euros so
this has certainly increased the overall cost of the build but we feel that it
will more than pay for itself. The tank has been constructed next to the pool,
which will mean that some of the landscaping will be incorporated in this area,
which will be used as a sun terrace. In addition to the benefits achieved by
having the tank constructed now, rather than later, it will mean that the annual
running cost of the Villa will be reduced as, unlike in the UK, ‘The Council
Tax’ is calculated by the amount of mains water used. The tank will collect
natural rainwater and can be topped up with mains water as and when required.
As anyone who has followed our progress may remember, the garage construction
was in such a steep position due to the additional excavation, that it was
impossible to use it to house a car. Prior to Christmas Yiannis gave us three
alternative suggestions for its use, bearing in mind that a small proportion of
it must remain for storage use (central heating boiler, pump etc.,).
We had been given the choice of using the space in the following ways: - a)
making a much larger en suite bathroom to the master bedroom, b) having an
outdoor, undercover area for BBQ, seating, changing for the pool or c) extending
the size of the master bedroom to incorporate additional space for relaxation,
as an alternative to using the upstairs lounge. We chose option c) which we felt
had more potential for future years when we have family or friends staying.
Back to our visit…………….
We knew that this visit wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination going to be a
holiday and we were not wrong. There was so much to think about and achieve in
such a short space of time and yet we wanted to catch up with all our good
friends too. In all, we struck a good balance and with their guidance managed to
complete nearly everything we set out to do. We could have done with a little
more time, as we had intended to look at kitchens and furniture prices to have
some idea as to the future cost, should we decide to purchase in Corfu but
unfortunately this didn’t materialise. Nonetheless, we know where to look in
May, as no doubt the kitchen will be next on the agenda.
Our first contact with Yiannis was at the Villa, where he took us on site and
explained what had been accomplished since our last visit and what was required
of us during our stay. We were extremely pleased with what has been done so far
and can now see our plan coming together. Corfu has had some inclement weather,
with a very cold spell and an abundance of rain so the ‘build’ is behind by
about a month at the moment but Yiannis is confident that they will be able to
make up the time, so we are still looking at an October/November 2004
The most important task for us this time was to choose the flooring and bathroom
tiles so on the following day Fotis, Yiannis’ Buisiness Partner, took us to a
couple of places to start looking. What a difficult task that was, we were
absolutely mind boggled. We were also soaking wet! from looking at marble slabs
outside, which was what we really wanted but didn’t know whether we could
afford. We looked and looked but couldn’t come to any decisions instantly,
although we knew that a decision must be made before we returned. We aborted our
first visit with a few ideas floating around in our heads but decided to sleep
That night after a few ouzos, some wonderful food, wine and good company and
after really thinking things through, everything seemed to come together in an
instant and despite looking at the enormous range of floor tiles ranging from
smooth to craggy, light to dark and enormously expensive to very reasonable, we
decided upon marble flooring throughout at 20 Euros per sq.m
When we saw Yiannis the next day and talked through all our ideas, he suggested
that before we come to a definite decision, he would take us to see a house he
was building where marble flooring had already been laid. Even though the floor
was in its raw state, before being cleaned, polished and sealed, we were
convinced it was the right choice and the price was within our budget and
matched our quote.
After considerable deliberation and compromise, we found some bathroom tiles,
which with discount suited our pocket and pallet, although we must say that at
the original price of 21 Euros per sq.m would not have been an option.
There is a magnificent range of tiling in Corfu and we found that the prices are
no different to the UK.
We had a look at sanitary wear, all of which is white, which suits us. We
visited the Ideal Standard showroom in Corfu Town and found a vast range. We now
have to be very careful not to over spend, as sanitary wear is not included in
our quote, so we have returned with brochure and price list and will carefully
work our way through it with a clear mind.
We are now waiting for Yiannis to send us a diagram of how he has planned the
placement of tiles in the bathroom, en suites and cloakroom as the design we
have chosen has patterned as well as plain tiles and borders. If we are not
careful this will prove to be expensive, as only the plain tiles have been
discounted. Once agreed, Yiannis will go ahead and order them.
During our stay we spent considerable time looking at the colour of houses,
doors and shutters, as this was another decision we had to make this time so
that the windows, shutters and doors could be ordered. We had originally decided
upon wood finish but after much consultation we have changed our minds and have
chosen aluminium, which will be more robust, more secure and will not need
re-painting. To our surprise UPVC is quite a lot more expensive, so we have
opted for medium quality aluminium complete with mosquito netting blinds.
At last, and much later in the holiday than we had planned, we managed to catch
up with our newly found friends, Stella, Ron, their two dogs and two cats and
had a really nice few hours with them, which convinced us even more that we have
made the right decision in planning to spend more quality time on our favourite
With everything chosen and finalised, we can now relax and look forward to our
next visit in May, when we shall be returning to Agni to see our friends and
when we hope that Villa Michael will have his roof on.
Bre & Al Wild