Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mediterranean Cruise - Day 9 - Corfu

Today we woke up bright and early for our excursion: Achillion Palace and Private Villa.  The morning was beautiful.

Corfu, Greece is a small island in the northwest corner of the country's territory, near the border with Albania.  See the map below.  The orange island with an A on it is Corfu.  We were docked in Cofu Town.

So on this bright morning, we rode by motor coach outside the city to a village named Gastouri, and the Achillion Palace.

Achillion Palace was built in 1890 as a summer retreat for Elizabeth (Sissy), the Empress of Austria.  After her assassination, it was bought by the Kaiser Willhelm II of Germany.  Sissy was enchanted with Greece and mythology.  Her favorite mythological being was Achilles, hence the palace name.

The entry gate

Palace exterior

One of the many mythological depictions:  Here's Zeus!

The mural on the ceiling just inside the entry way.

The chapel inside the palace.

A portrait of Sissy.  She had eating disorders and was obsessed with her figure.

In my opinion, the best part of the palace was the gardens outside.  They were built to accomodate large parties, and it was lovely.

Achilles ready for war

Views from the gardens.

Sissy's favorite statue, and mine too.  Wounded Achilles.  Imagine he's pulling an arrow out of his left heel.
The palace was interesting, but we found ourselves a little bored.  Luckily, our next stop was the highlight of the day, if not the trip.

First of all, we left by bus from the palace and drove down the highway along the shoreline.  We stopped at one particularly beautiful area and took some photos:

The water was a clear green-gray, and we spotted a fish, maybe a gar.
Then we pulled up to a private home.  These nice people arranged with Holland America to welcome travelers into their home for a taste of Greece. 

We were led to their large back porch, overlooking a pool and the Greek countryside.  They presented us with local food: a buffet including a beef dish stewed in tomatoes and spices that they make every Sunday, salad, tzatziki sauce, and the best baklava we've ever eaten.  We also tried their local kumkuat liquor, which was nice but it had an anise flavor we didn't care for.  That's ok, we'll stick with the wine!

While we ate, we enjoyed local music and dancing.

When the baklava came out, the house chef brought it out on platters and did a dance with it.  There were many Opahs! and it was just lovely.  Next, some of our group decided to get up and dance, so they taught the locals some American-style line dancing.  The chef did her best to follow along, and it was hilarious.  When it was time to go, the family and the chef waved goodbye from the front door.  It was such a great experience.

We returned to the ship and took a short nap before our reservations for Le Cirque on the ship.  Although we were a bit disappointed in some of the food and most of the service, we had a good meal.  We went up on deck and watched a beautiful sunset over the Albanian islands as we sailed to our next stop: Dubrovnik, Croatia.

I was having a giggling fit when Chris was trying to take my picture, and this is the best one.  I won't share the others!!

God's majesty is visible in few places on Earth, but I think sunsets are one.

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