25 February 2016

Greek Paradise

Having travelled across rural France, Switzerland and Italy, our journey was off to a flying start, and on the fifth day of our trip we found ourselves waking up on the enormous Olympic Champion boat. A strong coffee and chocolate chip muffins lured us out of our cabin, and as we gobbled up our breakfast cheerily, the island of Corfu came into sight.

My family have a long history with Corfu; my father has been a regular visitor for 30 years, and this would be my 18th trip. We always stay in the same village in the north of the island, where there are picturesque beaches, unspoilt landscapes and peace and quiet - admittedly very different to resorts such as Kavos in the south! The people of the village have watched me grow up, and we have many dear friends there. Our Corfiot holidays are not only a chance for some quality R&R, but to catch up with those friends too.

As the bright blue ocean twinkled in the sun, the boat pulled into the port of Corfu Town where we disembarked. You could feel the heat on your skin as soon as you stepped out onto the warm concrete, but it was a pleasant type of hot instead of being stifling.

Mr Maggie May jumped into the driver's seat and took us up into the hills, strewn with olive trees and villas, their colourful shutters wide open to let in the morning sun. The sound of hundreds of cicadas filled our ears, a noise which I always associate with being on holiday.

At last, we were there - our second home. We stay in apartments owned by friends of the family, and they are absolutely amazing; a wonderful swimming pool surrounded by loungers and double beds (yes, actual beds!) so you can snooze in the sunshine after a long day of relaxing; beautiful balconies (ground floor and first floor) with comfortable armchairs for you to sink into, and fluffy white bath robes to envelop you after a lovely shower. The minute we arrive there, we all instantly relax - and isn't that the point of a holiday?

I was particularly excited about our friends' latest purchase; an inflatable water bed with a shade, ideal for floating around on the water without a care in the world!

We spent the rest of the day settling in and unpacking, before sprucing ourselves up ready for dinner with an old friend of my father's. He has a taverna where his cooks produce very tasty traditional Greek dishes - after a mezze of tzatziki, spinach pies and cheese pies, we tucked into rabbit stifado and meat roasted slowly on the spit. However, our boat crossing and driving had made us all rather tired, so after a quick Baileys back at our apartment, we had an early night.

The next few days were wonderfully lazy; on the first day, Mr MM and I went for an early morning walk on the beach, poking our feet into the warm water of the sea. The feeling of sand between your toes has to be one of the best in the world.

There was then a lot of lounging by the pool by day, reading (enabling me to polish off both The Bone Clocks and Gone Girl), late lunches, afternoon siestas and dinners at tavernas we had frequented many times before. It was simply the perfect relaxing break; my father works very hard all year round, my mother fully deserved a holiday, and my boyfriend and I hadn't switched off properly for a really long time - a few hours of doing nothing but relax was therefore much appreciated.

As you can imagine, we have many pastimes and traditions which we like to follow when we visit (we are creatures of habit) and one of these is grabbing an ice cream from our favourite ice house!

It is situated in a town about a 15 minute drive from our village, and although the town is not our favourite place to visit, being extremely touristy and a bit too English (!), we always make time for this little ice cream parlour. Every time we visit there is a whole new host of flavours, and a choice of both homemade and Italian ice creams, frozen yoghurts, sorbets, crepes, cakes.... The list goes on and on.

This time there were only 26 flavours to choose from (darn!) but I knew straight away which I'd be choosing; their homemade Ferrero Rocher ice cream satisfies all my chocolate and nut cravings at once, and those of you who know me understand my addiction with this flavour combination. I also sneaked a scoop of pistachio, which was lovely, but not quite as yummy as the other.

After weeks of counting down, we were finally enjoying our idyllic 'beach holiday', and I have to say, it felt amazing. It wouldn't be too long however before things started to get a bit more adventurous... But that's a story for next time!


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