May 2009

May 2009

  • May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel
  • May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel
  • May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Looking Forward

Looking Forward, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Traditionally, May is the month when the tourist season begins again, though for the past week there have been charter flights from countries other than the UK. EasyJet started their direct flights to Corfu at the beginning of April, and cruise ships have been seen in the harbour for some time now. Worries over the prospects for the season in the light of the economic situation have blurred everyone’s enthusiasm, and the WHO is waiting in the wings to cast its own cloud over world travel. Not, we hasten to add, the great rock group, The Who, who have survived everything and continue to give great performances – an encouragement to us all to rise above the worries and carry on!

Looking Back

Looking Back, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Just for a moment, let’s look back at Easter, which as usual was wonderful here in Corfu. For a few days, the worries were put aside, and the sun shone kindly down for long enough to make it a memorable event. As usual, there were crowds of visitors from mainland Greece, and for once the traffic arrangements went smoothly and the imminent chaos of previous years was contained. It is impossible not to succumb to the general air of goodwill that prevails at this time – huge crowds gather in and around the Liston to see the passing of the Epitaphios processions, to watch the hurling of the great pots from the balconies on Saturday morning, to linger and mingle for hours – and the atmosphere is that of one giant party – everyone feels happy, and safe, and part of a family. There are very few places left in this world where this is possible, and we should be thankful for the gift that Easter in Corfu gives us all.

Looking Back, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Corfu as Crossroads

Corfu as Crossroads, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Corfu has always, historically been a kind of crossroads – read any description of its history and you will find this phrase used again and again. A geographical and cultural crossroads for the civilizations of the Mediterranean. Tourism has brought visitors to this crossroads from further afield; the magic of Corfu has caused many of them to settle here. The new face of Corfu is never more evident than at its social gatherings. Easter parties here are no longer quite as traditionally Greek as they used to be. We attended one, for example, where the guests originated from Britain, Holland, Thailand, Russia, the Ukraine, Italy and, of course, various parts of Greece. Easter is largely about food here, and our Easter Sunday banquet began with Thai starters, continued with Greek tzatziki and taramasalata, digressed to hummus – that curiously un-Greek dish, went on to Ukrainian salads, Russian caviare, was enlivened by Dutch/Indonesian dishes, and finished, not with the usual goat or lamb on the spit, but with a whole spit-roasted pig from Epirus. Music played less of a role than usual, perhaps because with conversations and translations flowing in so many languages, no-one had the time to pin back an ear for music!

Corfu as Crossroads, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Cooking for the Cousins back home

Cooking for the Cousins back home, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Talking of slightly unusual Greek meals – reading through one of the Corfu blogs we noticed an item about cooking a Greek meal for relatives back home, in this case in England. It always happens – your friends and relatives want to try Greek food and expect you to come up with the goods.

Cooking for the Cousins back home, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

One of our team long ago decided that instead of agonizing over cookery books every time, for something different, she would always stick to the same menu – and judging by the blog in question, it’s the one we all do!
Keftedes (meat balls), potatoes baked in the oven Greek-style, tzatziki, and fresh green beans stewed with onions and fresh tomatoes. It’s easy to find the ingredients wherever you are – or so you would think. Our team member, however, on one occasion fell foul of local shopping hours on a visit to Canada. She assumed that shopping was a 24/7 affair over there, and therefore being asked to produce her Greek meal at the last minute on a Sunday would be no problem. To her dismay, however, the dairy products shelves were frighteningly empty of yoghourt for the essential tzatziki. At last she saw a familiar looking tub, grabbed it, and proceeded back to the house to whip everything together. Having mixed the pulverized garlic into the yoghourt with the grated cucumber and olive oil, she tasted it for seasoning and to her shock, horror and dismay found that her tzatziki was sweet with a distinct vanilla flavour. On the point of throwing it away, she found her niece tasting it tentatively. ‘Mm it’s lovely,’ said the niece, ‘you must give me the recipe’. Not sure whether to serve it as a starter or a dessert, our friend kept quiet, and a new family tradition was born.

A Doggie Tale

A Doggie Tale, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

According to a BBC report, a pet dog that fell overboard from its owners’ yacht in rough seas off Queensland has been re-united with its delighted owners after surviving alone on an island for four months. It apparently fed off feral goats, reports said. Several years ago a friend of ours was sailing back to Corfu from Paxos when he sighted a small dog swimming in the open sea between the two islands. The dog was exhausted and, needless to say, he adopted it, calling it ‘Yammas’. The dog went on to lead an eventful life, partly because our friends were serious alcoholics and kept forgetting him in bars and restaurants and on quaysides. They were always re-united in the end, and when eventually our friends, who by then were not only alcoholics but also cardiac arrests waiting to happen, were forced to return to the UK for health reasons, they were determined to take Yammas with them. In those days, taking a dog back to the UK was very difficult indeed and bogged down in bureaucracy. True to form however, Yammas was sedated and smuggled in on board a yacht and went on to lead a fairly uneventful life. Now if only dogs could write, what a set of memoirs that would be!

Welcome May

Welcome May, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

The month starts with a Public Holiday, when traditionally everyone gathers flowers, wild or cultivated, and makes bright, beautiful wreaths to hang on their front doors or balconies. It is a custom that, like so many other customs in Greece, goes back to pagan times. On 15th May, summer officially arrives, and the police and armed forces go into summer uniform. On current form, they could well be shivering – we shall see. 20th and 21st May are important days, when Corfu celebrates the Re-Union of the Ionian Islands with Greece (check your history books or sites for a full explanation) and one of the name-days celebrated by at least half the Greek population occurs – that of Constantine and Eleni.

Welcome May, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

More Writers....

More Writers...., May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Corfu always did attract writers and artists, and continues to do so. It is hard to find any proof that Byron visited Corfu, though he certainly did travel extensively in Greece and may well have used Corfu as the ‘jumping-off’ point for his journeys in Albania. He did, however, refer to Corfu as ‘the shores of glory’. Now Channel 4 has filmed a documentary about Byron’s travels in Italy, Greece and Albania, starring Rupert Everett. It airs in July and sounds promising.

Writers Circle

Over on the Agni forums a spate of rather well-written and very nostalgic ‘memoirs’ about visiting Corfu for the first time prompted some ‘lurkers’ to emerge from the shadows and admit to indulging in the suspicious activity of writing. And so the Writers Circle was created – a forum where those who love Corfu, live there or visit it regularly, can share their thoughts on writing and some of their efforts too. Take a look here: Greek Writers' Forum

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Agni Aunt

Polly Vromikos Column May 2009

It’s meant to imply Agony Aunt after all, and for most of my adult life I seem to have been an Agony Aunt to one or other of my friends and acquaintances.
I have advised and commiserated, from the depths of my profound experience, on such matters as recalcitrant teenagers, unidentifiable spots and rashes, recipes for soffrito (but I’m not telling you my special one), and dealing with a Greek mother-in-law. (It’s not so much dealing with, as enduring and seeing who will crack first). I have offered help in finding unfindable villas – usually to taxi drivers told to go to Villa Maria in the north – there must be 5000 villas called Maria in the north, and another 5000 in the south.
I have supplied the Greek translations of anything from medicine bottle labels to birth certificates, from police summonses to electricity bills, from photo captions to entire websites.

Agni Aunt, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Occasionally there really has been some agony involved, as in the numerous cases of women asking for advice on dealing with straying husbands, or men trying to win back their strayed wife, or lovers having a protracted tiff break.

In Ancient Greece, people looking for answers to their problems used to visit an Oracle, but the answers they were given were often obscure and impossible to interpret. So that wasn’t much good then. If a woman wants to find out how to keep her husband from staying late at the office every night, she doesn’t want to be told to go and slaughter a goat and bring its entrails back for a stir and a vision, does she? She wants to be given a guaranteed weight-loss diet and a course of electrolysis, doesn’t she?
So it’s a bit of a comedown to find that suddenly no-one wants my advice. All sorted, are we then?

Well, here’s a bit of advice for free.
If you want to unblock your kitchen sink without paying through the nose for some fancy drain cleaner or calling in a plumber, just pour a bottle of Coke down it. Even half a bottle – and it needn’t be a big bottle – of flat dregs will do it.
I’m not sure how much of a free ad for Coke this is, but it’s a household tip worthy of serious consideration.

Agni Aunt, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Of course you can always try a few drops of Windex – but if you have never seen the film ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ you won’t know what I am referring to.

Eurozone holiday costs 'less than expected' - poll shows

Eurozone holiday costs 'less than expected' - poll shows, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

The figures come from the annual Holiday Costs Barometer from Post Office Travel Services.

Bulgaria has overtaken last year’s top trio of Thailand, South Africa and Egypt, where prices have risen steeply, according to the study. Thailand still remains as the best value long haul, but prices have rocketed, the research shows. The biggest price hikes were in long haul destinations with the 10 commodities surveyed rising by 53.7% in Thailand and by 46.9% in Egypt.

Like the US, which has dropped to 17th place in the barometer table after sterling slumped against the dollar, the Thai baht and Egyptian pound have strengthened considerably against the UK pound. Although this helps to account for the increases, the Post Office warned that resort prices have risen more than in other holiday spots.

Price cutting in some popular eurozone destinations means that thay may cost less than expected. Prices have plummeted in the Algarve in Portugal, putting the destination back into the top ten for the first time in two years – at only 39p more for the holiday shopping basket than in Spain, the cheapest eurozone destination surveyed.

Eurozone holiday costs 'less than expected' - poll shows, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Local prices have dropped in Greece and Italy as well, which means that the annual price increase for the tourist items surveyed is just seven and five per cent respectively – and wholly due to an 11% sterling exchange rate drop.

France is the most expensive eurozone destination in this year’s barometer – costing £11.22 (+16.7%) more than in Spain. Cyprus joins France as the highest priced European holiday destination. By contrast Malta has held prices steady and emerges as third cheapest after Spain and Portugal.

Post Office head of travel services Sarah Munro said: “The eurozone has taken a bashing this year but our survey suggests that tourist outlets in many resorts are taking dramatic steps to encourage tourists. “Despite the weak pound, this means that UK tourists who shop carefully could find that they get more than expected for their money.”

Source: Travel Mole

Property Feature

Property Feature, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel
The Shed

A stylish and stunning villa furnished with an eclectic mix of old and new, with traditional and luxurious finishes: The Shed, Agni Bay

Caption Competition

Caption Competition, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

The lengths some go to save on car hire!
(Photo taken from the Kefalonia to Lefkada ferry. As we neared Nidri port, we caught sight of this ancient Greek galley with a Seat Ibiza on top!)
The prize for this month's caption competition is a week at the Bella Mare, Corfu!
Just post a caption and enjoy a free week away: May Caption Competition

Greek Videos

We are always looking for an interesting Greek video to show you. Take at look at this:

Title: 'Rocket war' on Greek island

Greek Plumbing

Greek Plumbing, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

How things have changed! When we first started our villa rental business in Greece, the plumbing was our chief problem. The primary cause for complaint, and the most frequently-recurring task for our handymen, was the unblocking of drains. It was hard to persuade the visitors, used to plumbing that didn’t require much planning or thought in their daily lives, that they could not – absolutely not – put the toilet paper down the loo.

Greek Plumbing, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Of course, that was assuming the villa or apartment w.c. actually had loo paper – often it was just pages from a newspaper stuck on a rusty nail behind the door. We all remember ‘showers’ that were simply a drain in the chilly mosaic floor and a hand-held shower attachment – no cubicle, tray or curtain. The water heaters were fearsome objects precariously mounted on the wall, dripping menacingly, hissing threateningly. Times have changed, and while there are still dinosaur bathrooms around, the newest villas are graced with glass shower cubicles, rain shower heads, his-and-hers TV screens set into the wall of the spacious shower room and even waterfalls. (But what happened to the bidet?) One of the newest fads is the open bathroom – imagine lying on your bed while your companion performs ablutions – and other necessary personal tasks – in full view. We can think of very few people who actually enjoy such lack of privacy. Word has it that in some hotels (not yet in Corfu but it is only a matter of time) the housekeepers are trained to fold the loo paper origami-style. We have found that it is hard enough to train the villa maids not to remove the loo paper between lets, and take it home, let alone sculpting it into flying cranes and leaping dragons.

Greek Plumbing, May 2009, Newsletters, Agni Travel

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