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Author Effrosyni Moschoudi shares top tips about Corfu
3rd July 2016
#TalkingLocationWith… author Effrosyni Moschoudi talks about her Corfu.
I may be an Athenian but the Greek island of Corfu feels like my real home. It certainly is my favourite place on earth. Ever since I was about five years old, my Corfiot grandparents used to have me over for long periods every summer. At the time, they used to stay in Garitsa, an area of Corfu town on the shore that’s a stone’s throw away from the Spianatha – the town’s ancient, Unesco-listed square that is a marvel of lush greenery and fine monuments.
The time I spent on the island back then was wonderful enough, but my Corfu holiday bliss skyrocketed when my grandparents moved to the village of Moraitika where my grandfather was from. Holidaying there for three months at a time year after year introduced me not only to a heavenly place on earth, but also to a host of cousins, aunts and uncles that, up till then, I didn’t know I had.
By the time I turned thirteen, my family had begun to operate a business of room rentals and a souvenir shop in
Moraitika, right in time for the 1980s massive tourism boom that lasted throughout that decade. As a young girl I found my holidays there to be sheer bliss. My sister and I would chatter in English non-stop with the tourists, mostly Brits and Germans, while working in the family businesses, and enjoying every moment of it. In the process, we improved our English and even picked up the British accent. Soon, my sister and I took to speaking to each other in English, and the locals began to mistake us for tourist girls. Somehow, it became our favourite pastime and we giggled no end about it. The bonus part was that dashing British boys would come over to say hi all the time, having made the same assumption!
Fast-forward three decades later, now married to a Brit and living in Athens, life dealt me a bad hand in the form of the Greek crisis and ended my career in aviation. When I wound up writing novels to pass the time, I inevitably found myself writing about Corfu – the greatest passion of my heart.
And so, The Ebb was born, a book partly set in Moraitika and the neighbouring village of Messonghi with its river and picturesque caiques. These villages are situated on the shore on the southeast of the island. In the book I recorded many memories from the 80s. As for my sister, she took on the form of the heroine’s best friend in the book. The rest is fiction, but some real people and circumstances wound up in the book, which means it is close to my heart because of the truth and real emotions recorded in the pages.
For the traveller, Corfu is heaven no matter where you go. I may be partial, I know, but my love for Moraitika and Messonghi is not only explained by my past. These holiday destinations are much quieter than the ones situated in the north of the island and that suits me just fine. If, unlike me, you’re looking for a bustling setting, just visit Corfu town to absorb culture and history to your heart’s content and to rub shoulders with crowds, especially if you visit during one of the many festival days around the year that cause people to visit the town by the droves. By far, the best time to experience Corfu town is during Orthodox Easter. The spectacular customs and the atmosphere are truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
In the north of the island you will find some of the most cosmopolitan beaches on offer, such as Paleokastritsa, Sidari or Acharavi, with the first being the absolute must. Jump on a caique to explore the caves in Paleokastritsa and, if you have a car, drive up to higher ground and marvel at the breathtaking views of the bay. The water always looks green in Paleokastritsa and it’s freezing cold even in the summer!
Corfu town will enchant you if you visit the Old Venetian Fortress, and if you sit at a café in the vaulted street of Liston
across from the cricket field. The above are remnants from the occupation of the island by the Venetians, the French and the English respectively. The lanes behind the Liston are the best way to enjoy the buzz of the town and to buy some excellent souvenirs. Don’t miss the olivewood crafts near the magnificent church of St Spyridon (patron saint of the island), and make sure to sample the local sweets of kumquat, mandoles and mandolato.
If you’re staying for a few days, there’s a large selection of daily boat trips to enjoy. I recommend the islands of Paxos and Antipaxos, or Parga and Syvota on the Greek mainland. Whatever you choose, you’re in for a swim in the clearest waters you’ve ever seen!
For more info on what to do and see on Corfu, you’ll find a wealth of information and links to other great sites on my online guide
Thank you to Effrosyni for sharing her passion for Corfu.