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Practical Information

Appliances & Current
220V, 50 cycles, plugs have two round pins

American travelers will want to bring a small converter and plug kit for their hair dryers and camera chargers.

Banks, Etc.
In Corfu Town, you will find all the main Greek banks represented: the Agricultural Bank of Greece; Alpha Bank; The National Bank of Greece; and EFG Eurobank Ergasias, and others. For sheer convenience, I use the Alpha Bank at 80 Kapodistriou Street, Tel: 26610 37952. There’s an ATM here as well.

Dean and I bring travelers’ checks with us to Greece, and some cash in dollars. We generally exchange some checks at the airport in Athens; then wait to cash others on the island. Anywhere we can, we pay with credit cards, however (hotels, rental car, tickets, etc.).

Business Hours
Banks: Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. till 2:30 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. till 2 p.m.

Shops: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, around 9 a.m. till 2 p.m.; Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. till 2:30 p.m.

Supermarkets: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. till 8 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. till 6 p.m.

Kiosks and Mini-Markets: open, especially in areas frequented by tourists, into the wee hours in high season.

Culture Shock
I think that what readers of this particular guide will find most surprising about Corfu is the fact that, on this one island, you will find sleepy, utterly-Greek villages (where not much has altered since the 1960’s) cheek by jowl with sybaritic luxury resorts catering to—it seems in July and August—upscale package tourists of one nationality, and one nationality only just down the road from horrific lager-lout-havens-of-excess such as Kavos, where Northern Europe’s underage, underclass escapees-to-the-sun are flown in by cheap charter, then bussed in and purposefully stranded, so as not to “infect” the rest of the better-heeled tourist population with their presence and peculiar pursuits (sex and alcohol).

You have to know what sectors of the island to avoid (Kavos first among them, though the huge, organized beaches of the West coast also get my vote) in order to steer clear of the cultural ruin, but such avoidance behavior is second nature now to those visitors and travelers who, still, want to come to such places as the Greek islands, the coast of Spain, etc., etc., where tourism has run cheerfully rampant lo these past four decades. This caution tendered, it seems Corfu, and Crete, and even Mykonos are large enough to welcome their disparate hordes of summer, and keep one and all happy much of the time.

Emergencies & Health
In medical and dental emergencies, your best course of action is to ask your hotel concierge or Aperghi Travel for advice: they will know the best specialists and private surgeries on the island, and be able to help you quickly. In absolute emergencies, proceed to Corfu General Hospital (Yeniko Nosokomio Kerkyras) at the corner of Andreadi and Kostanda streets, near San Rocco, Tel: 26610 36044, 88200.

In event of theft or crime, call the Tourist Police, Tel: 26610 30265. Ambulance, Tel: 166 or 26610 39403. Police, Tel: 100

I use one pharmacy on the island exclusively, simply because I like the pharmacist. She is Dr. Sylvaine Kavatha, and her pharmacy is located in Corfu Town at 66 Evgeniou Voulgareos St., Tel/Fax: 26610 25378.

Note: please have your wits about you when you are walking or hiking on Corfu. The island is home to quite a number of snakes, though the only one you really need look out for is the horned-nose viper, with its distinct zig-zag markings. I’ve actually stepped over one of these little fellows on my way up the steps to the Angelokastro—not a happy moment for either of us, though we both escaped harm. Another more prevalent hazard on the island comes in the form of sea urchins, which abound off Ionian island beaches. These spikey, dark-purple creatures are to be avoided at all costs, as their spines can become imbedded—and infected—in your feet, and are not pleasant to have removed. Please wear swimming shoes whenever in the sea: their solid rubber soles will protect your feet when you need to touch bottom. Weever fish, another spiney hazard, are more rare in Corfiot waters, but their sting is much more dangerous than the urchin’s spines. Again, swimming shoes will protect you, but if you tread on a weever fish, you will experience excruciating pain and must get your foot into very, very hot water immediately (which neutralizes the toxin to some extent). Then, seek medical help. All this said, in my decades of life in Greece, I have only had one run-in with a sea urchin and one with a large jellyfish.

What follows here is a list (by no means encyclopedic) of feast, festival and namedays on the island, times when there are special concerts, processions, parades or festivities you won’t want to miss if you’re around. You will note that Easter is the most festive season on the island. In fact, all accommodation in Corfu Town and environs is booked years in advance for Easter, when Corfiots truly celebrate.

January 1: St. Basil’s Day

January 6: Epiphany (Ta Fota) This is the day the cross is thrown into the sea off Mandraki (beneath the Old Fortress) for divers to “rescue,” for which one lucky swimmer wins good will and monetary awards from the faithful. Parades and music mark the occasion, after a solemn church service.

February 2: Ipapandi (Candlemas, Presentation of Christ at the Temple) Feast Day of the Church of The Ipapandi in Kommeno Carnival Season/Apokries (Moveable Dates): First Sunday in Carnival, processions held at various points on the island

Second Sunday in Carnival: second round of processions.

Thursday in Carnival: Corfiot Petegoletsa, singing of cantadhes and marching bands

Third Sunday in Carnival (Cheese Sunday): the season culminates in a massive parade, with floats, and the burning of (the straw) King Carnival

March 25: The Annunciation/Greek Independence Day

April: Easter (Moveable)

Palm Sunday: procession of St. Spyridon in Corfu Town

Holy Tuesday: Choirs perform at the Churches of St. Spyridon, St. Paraskevi and the Metropolitan Cathedral

Holy Wednesday: Concert by the Municipal Choir at the Municipal Theater

Good Friday: Epitaphios (Christ’s Bier) processes at island churches

Easter Saturday: early procession of St. Spyridon; First Resurrection and Pot Throwing

Easter Sunday: procession of the Icon of The Resurrection; celebrations at the New Fortress; procession of Aghia Triada in Garitsa; evening festivals in Pelekas, Lakones and Pagii

Easter Monday: processions at Aghios Giorgios, Klimatia and Benitses; festivals at Roda, Aghios Markos, Perouladhes, Gastouri, Kinopiastes, Kato Gourouna, Korakadhes, Kouspadhes, Viros and Vasilatika

Easter Tuesday: St. Spyridon replaced in his reliquary; procession at Avliotes; festival at Magouladhes

Easter Thursday: festival at Aghii Theka

Easter Friday: Zoödocho Pighis, festivals at Episkepsis, Sidari, Krini, Gastouri, Benitses, Valanio and Sokraki Sunday of the Myroforon (three weeks after Easter): festivals at Kombitsi and Spartilas

Sunday of the Samaritidas (five weeks after Easter): procession at Afra

April 1: National Holiday, festivals at Astrakeri, Roda and on Mount Pantokrator

April 8: procession and festival at Kassiopi, Hlomotiana, and at the Kassopitra Monastery in Kanoni

April 9: St. Christopher’s Day, festival at Vistonas

April 20: festivals at Alikes and Petalia

April 21: Enosis (Union With Greece), early procession in Corfu town and celebrations in various villages, among them Kokkini, Gimari and Koulines

June 1: festivals in Zigos and Potamos

June 5: Ascension Day, festivals in Kato Korakiana, Analypsis, Othoni and Pantokrator

June 12: St. Onouphrios’s Day, festival at Pelekas Pentecost (Moveable), festivals at Lakones, Kastellani Mesis and Kastellani Girou

June 16: Whit Monday, festivals at Kontokali, Stavros, Agiradhes, Kastellani Mesis, Antiperni and Othoni

June 22 All Saints’ Day: festivals at Gouvia, Nissaki and Strongili

June 24 St. John’s Day: two-day festival at Aghios Ioannis Mesis; festivals at Afionas, Pagii and Mandouki

June 29 Sts. Peter and Paul’s Day: festivals at Kombitsi, Strongili, and Vitaladhes; great festival at Gaïos on Paxos

July 1: festival at Anapladhes Lefkimi and Mandouki

July 2: Day of The Virgin of Vlacherna, procession in Garitsa, festivals at Garitsa, Acharavi, Kamara and Fountana on Paxos

July 7: St. Kyriaki’s Day, festivals at Chathates and Chysida

July 8: St. Prokopios’s Day, festivals at Aghios Prokopios, Lefkimi and Aghios Prokopios, Mesis

July 12: St. Spyridon’s Day, festivals at San Rocco, Kritika, Kyra Chrysikou and Mathraki

July 13: St. Marina’s Day, festival on San Rocco Square and at Benitses, Spartera and Avliotes

July 18: St. Emilianos’s Day, festival on Andipaxos

July 20: The Prophet Elias’s Day, festivals at Velonadhes, Kalafationes, Magouladhes, Kavadadhes and Perithia

July 26: St. Paraskevi’s Day, festivals at Vranganiotika, Avliotes, Kounavadhes, Kinopiastes, Sgouradhes, Lavki, Neohori, Ipsos, Benitses, Aghios Mattheos, Varipatadhes, Strinilas, and Porto Remounda (Corfu Town)

July 27: St. Panteleïmonas’s Day, festivals at Kato Garouna, Acharavi, Kouramadhes, Aghios Panteleïmonas, Perithia and at the Corfu Psychiatric Hospital (St. Panteleïmonas is the patron saint of physicians)

August 1–6: Six Days of The Pantokrator, thousands of the Orthodox faithful make a pilgrimage to the monastery

August 6: Day of The Savior, festivals in Corfu Town, and at Paleohori, Perivoli, Aghios Mattheos, Aghii Theka, Pantokrator, Strinilas, Evropouli and Pontikonissi (Mouse Island—a wonderful day to visit this little islet near Kanoni)

August 10: concert of cantadhes sung from boats in Garitsa Bay

August 11: St. Spyridon’s Day, Local Holiday, procession in Corfu Town and festivals at Kastellani Mesis, Lefkimi, Vasilatika and Velonadhes

August 15: The Assumption of The Virgin, National Holiday, festivals in many, many Corfiot villages

August 16, 17 and 18: three-day festival at Kato Gourouna

August 23: festivals at Agrafi, Aghii Theka, Pelekas, Gastouri, Alepou, Viros, Pentati, Episkepsis, Lefkimi, Avliotes and Tembloni

August 29: festivals at Doukadhes and Ano Gourouna September (various): International Festival of Classical Music on Paxos

September 8: festivals at Afra, Marathia, Aghios Markos, Potami (Lefkimi) and Sinaradhes

September 14: festival at the Monastery of Aghios Ioannis art Sidari

September 21: festival at Stavros

September 24: festival at Vatos

September 26: festivals at Karoussadhes and at Porto Remoundo in Corfu Town

October 26: St. Demetrios’s Day, festivals at Ano Pavliana and at the Aghii Douli Monastery

November 25: two-day festival at Karoussadhes

December 6: Sunday, festivals in Corfu Town, at Aghios Nikolaos Lefkimi, Alikes Potamos, Kanalia, Giannadhes, Vatos, Sinaradhes, Benitses, Petalis, Kato Garouna, Neohori, Karoussadhes, Kastellani Girou, Kopsoheiladhes, Prinilas, Sidari and Krini

December 12: St. Spyridon’s Day, Local Holiday, two-day festival in Corfu Town, and at Kavvadadhes, Spartilas, Kanalia, Vasilatika and Velounadhes, in addition to many other cultural activities scheduled during the Christmas period

Note: you will find all banks, public offices, shops and sites closed on the following dates: 1 January; Epiphany, 6 January; First Monday in Lent; 25 March, Greek Independence Day; Good Friday, Greek Orthodox Easter and Easter Monday; 1 May; Pentecost (Whit Monday); 15 August (Dormition of The Virgin); 28 October, “Ochi Day”; 25 and 26 December; and St. Spyridon’s Days, 11 August and 12 December.

The maps of this island are all just inspiredly awful. I pick up a handful of new ones every year, and throw up my hands, maps in them. Cartography is a crazy-making and exact science, but some Greek mapmakers seem to have mastered it beautifully, which is why the Corfiot maps’ failings baffle me. The best of the lot, right now, is the Road Editions Map (made with the “Cooperation of the Hellenic Army Geographical Service”— a bit worrying). The Corfu VI Sky Map of the capital (their slogan is: “Get One or Get Lost”) is essential for those following my walking tours: it’s generally made available, for free, in the better shops.

You might also want to pick up a copy of my own Insight Pocket Guide: Corfu, Singapore: Apa Publications GmbH & Co. Verlag KG, 2006 (ISBN 981-4120-32-4). Written for a more general audience of travelers, this guide contains a map and many of my up-to-date recommendations as of 2006.

Phones & Internet Connections
I leave my own Greek cell phone in Greece for use during the months I am there, and there are now US and European cell phones which accept Greek SIM cards. Alternatively, you can buy a phone card, good for use at any of the phone card “kiosks” around the island, though this mode of phoning is difficult for Americans to abide. Internet cafés are as follows:

Boem (formerly Café On Line) 28 Kapodistriou Street
Tel: 26610 36645; café

Netoikos Internet Café
14 Kaloheretou Street (adjacent St. Spyridon’s Church)
Tel: 26610 47479

Post Office
The main post office (tachydromio) in Corfu Town is located at the corner of Alexandras Avenue and Rizospaston Voulefton St., Tel: 26610 25544; Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. till 2 p.m. Upon entering the building, pull a number from a small dispensing machine near the entrance, and take a seat. There’s a special window for parcels, so ask to be directed to it.

Greenwich Mean Time + 2

I drink bottled water rather than tap water, simply for taste. Tap water’s just fine for brushing teeth, etc.

Weather & The Sun
In 2004, Dean and I spent six weeks in Greece, in September and October, without being splashed by a single drop of rain. The trick, of course, is to begin in the north, with Corfu, and end your long vacation on Crete. On Santorini, in early October, we saw television footage of gales and flooding on Corfu, which looked, at the time, as though it were in the other, wetter hemisphere.

But we did both experience bad sunburns on Corfu. Even in somewhat cooler autumn, be vigilant with the hats, long-sleeved shirts and sun-block, especially if you choose to take a half-day or day-long trip up the east coast aboard the Vivi. The wind out there on the waves lulls you into thinking you’re not burning.

Online, before you go, you might want to check out the Agni Taverna’s live webcam and “thermometer,” to get an up-to-the-minute look at Corfu’s weather: