Mama Mia, Here We Go Again, has put Greece in the spotlight once more. I ventured to the island of Corfu to see what this idyllic setting had in store. Could I too escape to a little pocket of paradise?
Here are a few of it’s most picturesque angles:
Sun, sea and sky
Looking out from Medusa Restaurant on Acharavi Beach across to Albania.
Unsurprising the sunsets over the island were second to none. A spectacular display of colour sprawling the sky. This said, you have to be quick to capture it; in barely 2 minutes you transitioned from dazzling hues of reds and orange into complete darkness. I think this made it even more captivating.
Looking northward over the cliff face from Kassiopi out to Albania.
The shoreline at dusk
This is arguably my favourite time of the day. Cooler, quieter and calming. The atmosphere reflects this in its haziness.
Reflecting light has the ability to change ordinary objects and scenes into something new and exciting. Mirrors appear, distortions confuse and shines dazzle.
The land is lovely, but I was always ready to move… onto the water.
Boat days are the best days. Following Corfu’s coastline eastward from Kassiopi, mooring up in hidden coves.
There is something about water. Especially at dusk. Be that at the harbour with the soft clinking of moored boats or gently lapping of waves on the jetty. Nets, ropes and various containers which I have no idea of the usage add to the charm. Kassiopi is a working harbour that has retained a magical calm quality.
This said, few fisherman pass through this harbour now as Corfu is currently suffering from a fish shortage, due to previous over-fishing. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed on both an environmental and economic front.
The community are now putting more and more reliance on fish farming. Although this helps solve the lack of fish and creates jobs, it is sadly adding to the environmental damage of the fishing industry: water pollution, the use of antibiotics leaking into the sea and plastic pollution to name a few.
I could go on… but this topic deserves it’s own article.
I will leave you with some food for thought. We dump 8 million tonnes of plastic into the ocean each year. This means at the current rate there will be more plastic that fish in the sea by 2050. Just take a minute to absorb that.
Now if this doesn’t look like a postcard or scene from Mama Mia, I don’t know what does.
Moving from the seafront inland we set off in search of Pantokrater Monastery. All we were to told was to “follow the road going up and you’ll come to a monastery on the top of the mountain“. Ok. Seemed simple enough. Challenge on.
The risk payed off.
One road up, one road down.
Nothing beats venturing out on open roads, windows down and occasionally going ‘off track’. Guided by the beautiful surroundings and a questionable map we were unsure if we were even heading in the right direction. This didn’t matter. The views alone were worth it.
Although, next time a car with a little more power to tackle the steep hills and functioning air-con would be appreciated. The piles of rubbish lining the roads (due to a collection strike) could also be left out. Rubbish in the heat does’t smell too sweet. However, despite the odd fearful moment and carsickness, we made it to the top in one piece.
Just like Mama Mia, this religious relic is located at the top of a very, very steep mountain. I like to think it adds to the sense of importance and prestige, but that may just be the altitude talking…
Although extremely hot and dry the landscape was surprisingly green. Shrubbery and trees cover large amounts of the Jurassic Park like scene.
Mount Pantokrator (also historically known as Mount Istone) is a mountain located in north-eastern Corfu. With a summit of 906m, it is the highest mountain on the island. From here you can enjoy views of all of Corfu, as well as neighbouring Albania, and on a clear day even Italy, despite it being around 130km away.
Residents of the mountain’s 23 surrounding villages decided to build the first monastery here in 1343. The Angevin building was completed in 1347 but later destroyed around 1537. The current church is dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ and dates from around 1689. Although the facade was built during the 19th century.
Since then, the monastery has become an attraction and point of reference for the region. Inside there are Ionian style pictures and numerous silver sacred vessels.
I was admittedly a bit clueless on how close Albania really was to Greece. Literally, a stone’s throw away. It echoes the shore of Corfu with its mountainous silhouette. Yet, it is surprisingly built up with clusters of (what seemed from afar) urban settlements dotted along the coast.
Sadly, we didn’t have time to venture across and explore. This I am saving for my return.