This month, we are letting you know a little more about how local Greek life affects those in the Agni team!
Sofri Visits Grevena
by Sofronios Splagounias (Sofri)
I have just come back from a fantastic weekend to the Greek mainland. Destination was Pindos Resort, a newly built complex of traditional villas, tucked inside the woods just outside the village of Kranea in Grevena, Epirus.
My wife and I left Corfu Friday afternoon, took the ferry to Igoumenitsa and drove all the way to Ioannina and via Metsovo and Milia reached Kranea at about midnight. Tired and cold, we ended up in uncharted territory, searching to find the Resort. And suddenly there it was!
There are no words to describe the warm and honest welcome of Babis and his wife Sophia, who run the resort. The villa we stayed in is called 'Zinelli', the interiors of which are simply unbelievable. The luxury and comfort of the furniture, the freshly baked cakes and pies found in the kitchen, the sweets on the lounge table and the fireplace just make you plunge into one of the sofas until you doze away.
We felt like we were in paradise. Our only worry was to keep the fireplace going. And that was easy as we had our own private firewood just outside our villa door step. We spent most of the next day sightseeing and went up to the Vasilitsa Ski Resort.
We left refreshed and I came back to a busy Agni Travel office, but I am still happy as I have already booked and paid a deposit to go there just after Easter.
I had the most relaxing experience ever!
Rachel finds a house to rent
by Rachel Taber
The time had come to find somewhere to live for the summer and possibly beyond... I had been living in the sophisticated comfort of a private villa with pool and fabulous view overlooking the sea courtesy of Nathan through the winter - see Villa Persephone on www.agni.gr/travel/Properties_With_Pools/Persephone/ plug, plug - which unfortunately for me needed to be vacated for summer rental by Easter (damnit!) It was therefore going to be a hard act to follow. Just to add a little more pressure was the fact that the former contents of my UK house were now sitting in Mondial's warehouse incurring storage fees until they also found a home!
I had been searching since Christmas and viewed quite a number of apartments along Corfu's North East coast, mostly found by generous local word of mouth, though none had been quite right for various reasons. One turned out to be at the top of two sheer flights of steps incorporating half a dozen 'hairpin' turns and I could not imagine getting my furniture safely up and down there in a hurry, nor, for that matter, myself after a few evening G&Ts... Others were more geared up to short term holiday lets instead of long term living and I'm sorry but I do need my creature comforts as well as a nice bath to soak in on those few and far between 'lie-in' mornings. I also wanted a nice sea view...
I was beginning to feel rather despondent until one morning Nathan marched into the office and declared 'Rachel, I have found the perfect house for you to rent, come and see!' Off we went and there it was, a small, double fronted cottage with veranda and terracotta tiled roof, two double bedrooms with spacious built-in wardrobes (thank god), a decent kitchen and lounge, air-con and, the 'piece de resistance,' a huge terraced balcony at the back with the most fabulous view of what seemed to be most of the north east coast and Albanian counterpart. Yes please, thank you, deal done.
Moving day came and I ticked all the boxes off my packing list as they arrived (it was like seeing long lost friends!). The weather was lovely and I kept strolling out on to the terrace imagining long summer evenings there taking in the view, overlooked by no-one and thinking I might even be able to include a bit of topless daytime sunbathing when the door bell rang and my first visitor arrived. It was Graham who helps with the Agni Animal Welfare Fund and he was chasing a fax, sent to the Agni Travel office concerning a recently rescued donkey! 'Oh,' he said, 'Great view...and look, you can just see my house up there in the distance on the opposite hill. I've got a great view too and with my telescope can see for miles...' So much for the topless sunbathing....
by Norma Cooke
Now that my feet have touched the ground, after our whirlwind trip to Paxos, just a few words about our next Agni Travel Yoga week in May 2007. We have carefully selected accommodation in the quiet, picturesque resort of Kaminaki, on the north east coast of Corfu, to complement the total relaxation theme of Yoga. Kaminaki is a tiny coastal village tucked amongst the olive groves. The bay is beautiful - sparkling white pebbles with the turquoise water gently lapping at the shoreline. It is probably the scene that most of us picture when we think of a small Greek holiday destination. The perfect idyllic place for a Yoga holiday: Yoga On A Greek Island
a winter trip to Paxos
by Nathan Pascoe
The weather here in Greece has been just amazing this winter. Warm sunny days, flowers opening far too early and mild evenings. Thursday morning was more of the same. The sun rose over the Albanian mountains and streamed into the Agni Travel office.
Norma arrived, prompt as ever at 9am. (Not many imagine the need to 'commute' here on Corfu, but Norma lives South of Corfu town which requires a drive of nearly an hour just to get to the office.)
She carried on with her work, finishing the Paxos driving instructions for our villas. Nathan, I still need some more photos for the Paxos villas she declared, today would be perfect!
There can be nothing better than a spontaneous trip to another island and I could not resist! Quick, I suggested, phone up Nikos and see if there are two places on the sea taxi. Moments later, the sea taxi from Corfu to Paxos was booked and we were off!
The sea taxi to Paxos departs from Faliraki, the old Corfu port, which is surrounded by weathered Venetian architecture.
We set off at high-speed. Most of the journey was hugging the Corfu coast, then as we reached the Southern tip of Corfu, the Sea became a little rougher and we 'bounced' across the short distance towards Paxos. Lakka soon came into view, I missed Loggos and in no time at all, we arrived into Gaios. A crowd of locals greeted the boat - it felt like something out of a movie.
We Need Petrol
Norma drove, while I hung out of the window taking the driving photos. We need petrol she soon declared, in fact we had none and were driving on fumes! Paxos is of course tiny (6km long) and only has two petrol stations, thankfully the distance from anywhere to a petrol station is very short!
All this driving around soon made us hungry! We invited Chris and Christine from Loggos and Babis from Gaios for a meal. Not much is open on Paxos during the winter and in fact only a couple of tavernas are open in the evenings. We enjoyed Mezethes at a friendly little taverna outside of Gaios, complete with a TV in the corner showing the latest Greek soap - Ugly Maria!
Norma stayed with friends, I stayed in a little apartment overlooking Gaios, which offered spectacular sunrise views!
The sea taxi departed at 8am. A similar scene from the day before, with loved ones being waved good bye. Captain Nikos engaged the engines and we sped back to Corfu. In no time at all, we were back in the office and could not believe that we had accomplished so much. Norma finished her driving instructions and added more to our web based Paxos Travel Guide.
Paxos is so close and yet so different to Corfu and our brief visit was a reminder that we need to make the trip more often!!!!
Stella learns Greek
by Stella Lewis
Why Learn Greek?
Picture the scene - The Agni Travel Office, the phone rings: 'Good morning, Agni Travel, Stella speaking' "Kalimera" 'Kalimera - do you speak English?' "Ochi" 'Oh, sorry, I don't speak Greek .....' Although I've lived here for a few years and managed to get by with my basic Greek for shopping and everyday conversation with my neighbours, I knew that the only way to become accepted and more involved with the locals was to be able to converse more fluently in their own language.
Where to learn?
Now, I'm not a natural linguist but when I saw an advertisement for intensive Greek lessons I decided to give it a go. I persuaded Nathan to come with me for a two-hour lesson twice a week in Corfu Town. Our teacher seemed a little fearsome at first - only speaking Greek to us unless we really didn't have a clue what she was saying (which, in my case, was most of the time!), but over the months she has mellowed and is now used to our sense of humour.
How are we getting on?
I think the Greek phrase is 'siga siga'! Nathan is racing ahead chatting away during the lessons but having slight problems with spelling and grammar, whereas I can read and write Greek quite well but when faced with a Greek person I cannot remember one word of the wretched language!!! I think the answer is that we have to go everywhere together and also take the text book with us so that anyone we speak to can 'perform' the dialogue with us!!! Our lessons are great fun and we are both very competitive, neither wanting to be outshone by the other.
How long will it take?
I think the answer to that is FOR EVER! I'm going to make it my life's ambition. The main thing is that we are both much more confident when Greek visitors telephone or come to the office and yesterday I even sent out an email in Greek! We're not fluent yet but we're working on it and having a lot of fun at the same time. Yassas!
Learn How To Speak Greek
Why not try to learn a few typical Greek Greetings, with us?
Note: this is the singular. Use when greeting a friend.
Note: this is the plural version. Use when greeting more than one
person; a person who you do not know; or an older person to show
(Contrary to what many will tell you, there is not a Greek word for
afternoon, but this is commonly used)
(you may have noticed that 'Kal-li' means 'good')
(a little bit difficult - you will need
(notice that the ending is very short)
(There is not a literal translation for please in Greek.)
(Commonly used Greek expression - I'll do it tomorrow!)
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The Corfu Travel
Guide and Lefkada Travel Guides are brought to you by Agni Travel.
Agni Travel is the sister company of Taverna Agni and also the sponsor of the Agni Animal Welfare Fund