In response to popular demand, the publisher of The Corfiot Magazine
has just launched 'The Complete Book of Corfu Walks', a follow up to
the successful and much acclaimed 'Corfu Book of Walks' (1987) and
'Second Book of Corfu Walks' (1995, 1999).
Ten years down the line, author and Corfiot editor Hilary Whitton Paipeti has catalogued many new walks, and made changes and improvements to old favourites from the books. Already, the publication contains 60 walks, and a total of over 100 is planned within the next two years.
Paxos, the smallest of the main islands in the Ionian group, lies about ten
miles south of Corfu and nine miles from the Greek mainland. It measures
some five miles by two and a half miles and its population numbers about
3000. But for such a small island, Paxos is endowed with a wealth of
delights. You can spend your day strolling around the lovely harbours of
Gaios, Lakka or Longos, or bathing from one of the many sandy beaches. You
can admire the dramatic coastal scenery or wander along stony lanes in the
shade of the olive trees which clothe the island. Tradition has it that
Paxos hides twenty secrets. You may not find them all, but you will
certainly discover the charm of this idyllic island.
A restoration project in the North West Corfu village of Rachtades is
serving as a model of how the island’s decaying old houses can be brought
back into use as holiday or permanent homes.
Villages that were slowly abandoned when tourism developed on the coast
today are coming back into fashion with some visitors, who seek a quieter
holiday venue away from the bustle of the resorts, and the enterprising
owner of this home is taking advantage of the trend.
Last summer, a delegation from UNESCO visited Rachtades, a semi-abandoned
village just a few kilometres from Sidari. The visit took place after an
invitation by the Corfu Heritage Preservation Foundation and aimed at
looking into possible funding from the European Union for the conservation
and economic revival of the village. The house which is currently being
restored privately is a prototype for the future.
Tonight I sat at Table 13. I am not superstitious, and neither clearly is
Dimitris, my landlord for the week, and resourceful owner of Brouklis
Taverna in Arillas.
We have had a running joke this week over the fact that only he knows which
buttons to press on the coffee machine to make it splutter into life and
produce the cappuccino coffee I like to drink.
Without Dimitris it’s Nescafe or nought!
Periklis from Nicholas Taverna in Agni was starting to lose his
patience. 'It's not like Lias,' he argued again.
Our conversation was reaching a dead end regarding Epirus, the
mainland opposite Corfu. I was disappointed a few years back, when
the fat talk about the villages over there which had kept their
traditional architecture was just that. Big fat words. Lias, the
village where the dramatic story unfolds of Eleni, by Nicholas Gage,
had something awry about it, if you had read the book. Meeting Nick
and his daughter Eleni was very exciting, but other than Nick's
mother's house and the pension that he restored himself everything
else was just red roof tiles with plenty of PVC.
Why, then, would the Zagori villages will be different? 'They are
different - you have to go and see for yourself.' Periklis told me
that he owns a hotel there, but at the time we wanted to visit it was
full, so we booked through the internet into a small B&B called Vikos.
The ferry trip to Igoumenitsa takes longer than the drive to
Ioannina, so in less than an hour we were there. From the Epirus
capital the trip to the villages takes about half hour, but in the
dark and with heavy rain it took double that. My new new HTC phone
with GPS turned out again to be an invaluable tool in getting us to
the heart of the region.