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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Travel - May 24, 2013 - Kerkira, Corfu, Greece

It has been at least thirty years since I last visited Corfu.  I remember walking through an old town on very steep streets with many little shops with olive wood items and other Greek souvenirs.  The town of Kerkira is quite large for a small island “village” and fairly modern. 

John and I elected not to take a formal tour, but did decide to take the shuttle provided by the ship to the largest castle/fort at the end of the city.  I’d never seen it before and the view was fantastic.  Actually from the ship the whole city looked like a series of castles connected by walls.  Some call this area the city of castles.  It really is a beautiful place with a lot of history.

Corfu (GreekΚέρκυραKérkyra[ˈcercira]Ancient Greek: Κέρκυρα or Κόρκυρα; LatinCorcyraItalianCorfù) is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The municipality includes the island Corfu and the smaller islands EreikoussaMathraki and Othonoi. The principal city of the island and seat of the municipality (pop. 32,095) is also named Corfu. Corfu is home to the Ionian University.

The island's history is laden with 
battles and conquests. The legacy of these struggles is visible in the form of castles punctuating strategic locations across the island. Two of these castles enclose its capital, which is the only city in Greece to be surrounded in such a way. As a result, Corfu's capital has been officially declared a Kastropolis ("castle city") by the Greek government. Corfu was long controlled by Venice, which repulsed several Turkish sieges, before falling under British rule following the Napoleonic Wars. Corfu was eventually ceded by the British Empire along with the remaining islands of the United States of the Ionian Islands, and unification with modern Greece was concluded in 1864 under the Treaty of London.

In 2007, the city's old city was designated for the UNESCO World Heritage List, following a recommendation by ICOMOS.

Corfu is a very popular tourist destination. Up until the early 20th century, it was mainly visited by the European royals and elites, including Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany and Empress Elisabeth of Austria; today it is also widely visited by middle class families (primarily from the UKScandinavia and Germany), leading to mass tourism. It is still popular with the global elite however, and in the island's northeast the homeowners include members of the Rothschild family and Russian oligarchs.

Most of our activities involved walking around this beautiful hill area looking at shops and taking pictures.  I’ve provided a number of them for you to view here.  It is very evident looking at the conditions of the buildings and residence that the economy is having problems.  As John says, there is not enough money in the world to fix the areas we have visited.  So many old building needing so much repair.  None of the governments have the resources to keep up these beautiful monuments. 

A few of the things I am enjoying taking pictures of are windows, doors, floors and walls.  It is amazing how different these are between countries.  It is also fun to look at the designs and compare them.  I’ll be busy once I get all my pictures home.  I've taken over a thousand.  I’m in heaven!!!

One more stop before Venice and that is Dubrovnik.  I can’t wait, I want to see what differences there are now that it is a new country.  Last time I visited it was in Yugoslavia.  Stay tuned…yes….there is more to come.

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