My fathers family is from Corfu and the last time I was there was for about four days in 1977, and I must say, it has’t changed much.
Corfu is stunning, it’s almost tropical weather creates the best of both worlds, a tropical Mediterranean island. Thick vegetation everywhere, great vistas from high mountains, and unbelievable beautiful crystal clear beaches.
We made a lucky internet find by booking at Brentanos Apartments. Since we were going to be there for 6 days I wanted a room with a kitchen, and Brentanos is designed to give you all that you want, nice large pool, rooms with balconies and kitchens, and a spectacular view of the ocean. Because of the island hopping flight schedule we ended up arriving at Brentanos way before check in time. They had just completed serving breakfast to guests when we descended on them, a party of 5 and they were as gracious as could be. We asked if it would be possible to get breakfast and without hesitation they began to set up a table for us and fed us. After we lounged by the pool, swam, and checked email while our rooms were readied. My room was charming and comfortable and I made sure to spend plenty of time enjoying my balcony, imprinting the smells, sites, and gentle breezes of Corfu in my memory. The hotel is operated by Costas and Helena Brentanos, it’s a family business which also includes one of their two daughters Yiota. They are lovely people, they added a richness to our visit to Corfu. They offered wonderful tips about where to eat and what to see, and suggested a really delicious restaurant in Corfu town for Claire’s 19th birthday. I know that if I return they are very much a part of the reason why,
Corfu town is very much a busy Venetian city. The Italian influence in Corfu is different than the influence in Crete. Crete feels more Greek, Mediterranean, whereas Corfu feels more European/Greek. My father had very clear blue eyes, light brown hair, and a pale complexion which fit right in with the citizens of Corfu. Pretty much everyone living in Corfu is thrilled to be there and it shows. People are relaxed and happy. The rest of Greece is very economically depressed but so far Corfu has’t been hit as hard.
Corfu is an island where you really need a car. There is a municipal bus, but it’s rout is limited to several major cities around Corfu town. For the rest, you need a car, or some other motorized vehicle, however Crete’s roads look like LA highways compared to the roads of Corfu! At least most of the roads in Crete have names! Driving is a real crap shoot in Corfu, just be open minded and not too committed to where you’re going and you should be alright. Good news is the island isn’t that big.
The food is good in Corfu and there are plenty of interesting places to eat. In Corfu town I walked past a Cretan Slow Food restaurant, and found a bakery that offered a comprehensive selection of Greek pastries that were dairy and or gluten free! I had two favorite meals in Corfu, the first was at a fish restaurant right on the water, and when I say right on the water I mean it. A simple platform was built over the water on the beach. Surrounded by water, eating delicious simple food, sipping wine, there’s nothing better. I believe we had a three hour lunch that day. The second was The Rex where we celebrated Claire’s birthday. This was a continental style restaurant with table cloths. Excellent service and thoughtfully prepared food. My family has many hilarious stories about celebrating birthdays in Greece. The Greeks don’t do birthdays like Americans do, so it is often baffling to them. For Claire’s birthday the restaurant took some Karithopita (a nut cake) and formed it into a mound and lavishly decorated it with cream and cherries, a site to behold! Claire’s godmother had the good sense to come prepared with birthday candles, otherwise I’m sure we would have ended up blowing out a classic 6-inch tapered candle!
Claire and I had an adventure when we decided to visit the Achilleion Palace. This was built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria. It reminds me a bit of the Hearst Castle in that someone chose an impossible location to build a palace. The Palace is a short drive behind the Brentanos Hotel, and Yiota was kind enough to give Claire and I a ride to the palace. The palace has spectacular views, peaceful gardens and lovely breezes and is often used for weddings and events. It’s a great place to go at the end of the day to enjoy the transition into evening.
It may have taken only 10 minutes to get there but it took us hours to get back! We missed the entrance to the unmarked dirt road back to our hotel and ended up wandering down the road to find ourselves 10 kilometers away from our hotel! Thankfully the hotel we wondered into called us a cab so we were spared trudging 10K back!
I’ve been to Greece many times, and every time I leave, I can’t wait to go back. Even though I’m second generation, and I am California born and bred, and LOVE it here, Greece feels like home
Filed under: Dimotakis/Calimeris Family Classic, Food on the road, travel