The Is­land You’ll Want to Keep Go­ing Back to

If it’s a sun-drenched cli­mate, cobalt waters and laid-back vibe you want, Corfu’s hard to beat. But don’t be de­ceived – be­yond its sunny dis­po­si­tion, there’s so much history and cul­ture to take in. David Fuhrmann-Lim spends eight days soak­ing up all the

Herworld (Singapore) - - LIFESTYLE - He took the pic­tures too.

We picked Corfu for a sim­ple rea­son – be­cause it wasn’t San­torini with its so­phis­ti­cated shtick, or Mykonos with its mar­keted moder­nity. Corfu some­how man­ages to strike the per­fect bal­ance as a chill beach get­away with enough cul­ture and culi­nary won­ders to hold its own against the other Greek is­lands. You’ll find cer­tain seg­ments more gen­tri­fied and overde­vel­oped, but pock­ets of peace and quiet are easy enough to get to.

Corfu, in the west of Greece, is a mere 35-minute flight from Athens. Thank­fully, we booked our trip for mid-June, just be­fore droves of tourists were due to spill onto the is­land. The party tribes tend to pop­u­late the Old Town in the south, Pa­le­okas­tritsa in the mid­dle, and Si­dari up north. The lat­ter was where we made camp. It was also where all the best beaches were.

We stayed in Villa Qui­etude, up north in Agios Ste­fanos beach town. This stately man­sion was once owned by the Cad­bury fam­ily – no free choco­lates for us, alas. It had a pri­vate pool that let us en­joy a front-row seat to a gor­geous sun­set ev­ery evening, and a ver­dant gar­den with its own veg­eta­bles – and we quickly learnt that there’s noth­ing quite like the fresh sweet­ness of home-grown fruits and olives. The pa­tio where we had break­fast each day also looked out over a crys­talline sea and the villa own­ers’ pri­vate stretch of beach. If you’re trav­el­ling in a big group, the three bed­rooms will eas­ily ac­com­mo­date a group of 10. It’s a per­fect base from which to ex­plore ev­ery­thing up north. De­pend­ing on the sea­son, ex­pect to pay some 1,000 eu­ros for a week’s stay.

We rented a scooter – at 100 eu­ros for a week – to get around the is­land. I rec­om­mend skip­ping the cab rides, be­cause they’re pretty ex­pen­sive – just the hour­long trip from the air­port to the villa set us back 60 eu­ros. Price aside, Corfu’s rugged, moun­tain­ous ter­rain is made for rid­ing – it gives you a vis­ceral feel of the is­land. But if scoot­ers aren’t your thing, rent a car or dune buggy to get around. You’ll have to, as there are no buses or trains cir­cling the is­land.

If you’re go­ing it on your own, keep an eye on your gas tank. We ran out of petrol while zip­ping along – which, while un­for­tu­nate, gave us a glimpse into the friendly, unas­sum­ing and un­guarded na­ture of the is­lan­ders. A Cor­fiot who saw us in dis­tress of­fered some petrol – enough to get us to the near­est gas sta­tion – and re­fused to take pay­ment. That ges­ture made us feel safe and wel­comed.

Eat at lo­cal tav­erns when you can. Or­der an ouzo as an aper­i­tif, and the home­made wines as well, which are value for money (4 eu­ros a carafe). They’re great with lo­cal food, so have them in­stead of the com­mer­cial Greek wines, which tend to be over­priced and don’t taste that great any­way.

It’s said that no one vis­its Corfu only once. Af­ter a week of lunches by the beach, wine in the tav­erns, and be­ing beck­oned by lush olive trees as we whizzed by, it’s not dif­fi­cult to see why.

The Old Fortress looms over Corfu town. Its Vene­tian ar­chi­tec­ture re­flects the is­land’s prox­im­ity to Italy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.