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Posts Tagged ‘Corfu’

Corfu Trip, May/June 2013

One of the advantages of living in the UK is an easier access to many places that would be inaccessible to me, for reasons of time, money, convenience, etc. in the US.  When we moved to Liverpool, we decided we wanted to see as much of those places as we could possibly manage.  Affordability is still an issue because we are, after all, a family of five, which opens up logistical issues.  Most “package” vacations are marketed to families of four, or more commonly to couples.  We have to pay for an extra room, because most hotels will only sleep a maximum of four to a room.  Package excursions are also usually marketed to numbers divisible by two.  Smart of us to go with the odd number, isn’t it?

Anyway, the first such excursion we’ve managed, besides a long weekend trip to Scotland, was a week long stay in Corfu, Greece.  The seaside village of Sidari is where our resort was located, and our hotel, the Panorama Sidari Village Hotel, was fairly accommodating to our odd-numbered selves.

But, oh, back to the beginning –

We flew out on May 24th, late in the evening.  We’d booked the entire vacation through Thomas Cook, which had its good points and its bad.  The first of the bad was that they were horribly mismanaged on that first Friday of a week long holiday.  I don’t know if they didn’t look at their own flight manifests, but they only had four agents checking in hundreds of people.  The line just to check in (there was no online check in option on our tickets, for some strange reason) took us over an hour.  They had to pull people from the line to take them up to the front as their flights were getting too close to takeoff and if they’d remained in that line they would never have made it. The agents who normally checked in the special customers (I suppose the ones who paid extra for fast check in?) were busy with the near-departures.  Our boys were infinitely patient, and I’m thankful for them.  We then had to wait in line for security for only a slightly shorter amount of time.  It’s a good thing I get to the airport early, always.

Anyhow, after all that we were in through the gate and on our way without further incident.  Our flight arrived in Corfu at 4am local time.  This is the good thing about booking through Thomas Cook: I didn’t have to think about anything.  I got off the plane, we got our bags, we were bussed to the resort, quickly checked in and in bed for a nap without incident.

Our first day at the resort, we sort of overslept for breakfast (that whole getting in a 4 am thing meant we didn’t get to sleep until around 7am).  It was only 2 hours til lunch time though, so we decided to check out our balcony.  We saw this:

Image

Well, that was one side of the balcony.  The other side was this:

Image

For all the serious, our hotel was amazing.  The views were amazing, and could be found at every turn, because we were up on a hill above the beach.  The walk up to the rooms was pretty intense, but they do have a shuttle bus that runs you from the bottom of the hill to the rooms (ostensibly) every 10 minutes.  The pool was lovely, with a bar open during pool hours that served drinks, ice cream, and snacks (the sausage rolls were a hit with the boys).  Here is the pool:

Image

We could always find a sunbed/sunchair.The resort wasn’t terribly crowded, though I think it was more crowded than usual  because of British half-term holidays, which indicates that it would be safe to say it won’t get intensely overcrowded like some resorts.

The food was actually surprisingly good! I had read some reviews that said it wasn’t the best.  I think part of that is that they were balancing a line between those British people who are creatures of habit and averse to trying new foods (there are a lot of them, trust me!) and the people who wanted to try the local menu.  For my part, there was a gorgeous salad bar every day that beat the pants off any salads I’ve had since being in the UK.  I hadn’t realized how much I missed a proper salad!  But they did their best to include standard fare (beans on toast) for the first group, and then delicious local things for the rest of us (moussaka, gyros, and Soutzoukakia were some of the best samplings I had).  The staff were always pleasant and accomodating in the dining room, though the evening staff at the front desk was more pleasant than the morning staff.

The rooms were all well-sized, and they were not luxurious but they were more thanadequate.  The beds were HARD, like, if there was one thing they should do better at this hotel, it would be GET BETTER BEDS.  I ended up taking one of the pool float-beds and using it for a mattress on my twin bed.  Yes, because of our 5 person party, we had two twin rooms with an extra twin pullout in one of them.  Not for a romantic trip, this one.

The town of Sidari itself is sweet – very small and easy to walk the entirety of it.  The walk to the beach from the hotel is only 5 minutes, and it takes about 10 to walk through the whole town if you don’t stop in any of the shops.  MOST of the people you see/talk with are from the UK or are expats.  The entertainment crew at the resorts are brought in by the travel agencies to organize activities. The bartenders/servers/shop workers are the only actual locals you will meet, and they speak English with you.  In other words, this is the holiday for the tourist, not a holiday to immerse yourself in local culture. The village is nice and has a few places to eat and drink that we found very pleasant.  B.E.D. (Beverage, Entertainment, Dinig) on the main street was fabulous for a morning breakfast or an afternoon to sit, use the WiFi, and have a drink while sitting on the back patio overlooking the beach.  They had sunchairs out back and a swingset for the kids.  We went there several times, but not in the evenings, so we can’t speak to the entertainment portion of it. Another place we enjoyed was Pleasures, a small cafe that served crepes and some sinful desserts.  I had the Gyro Crepe which was just fantastic.

Image

Sidari village at night.

Day Trips were available through Thomas Cook at the resort, but we saved about 100 Euro going through the little travel shop in town.  Exact same trip, exact same boats, just much less expensive through Vlasseros travel, and the guides/drivers/agents were all very pleasant and polite.  We did two trips through them – one to Paleokastritstra and Bella Vista, and the other a boat cruise along the coast to Kassiopi.  I’d have liked to have spent more time in Kassiopi, as it was LOVELY but we were a bit limited in time by the bus schedule.

This post is getting a bit long and rambly.  I am sure I have more to say on this but I’ve also got three boys who have chicken pox (INORITE?!?) and must go put them to bed.

I will leave you with one more gorgeous picture.  G’night!

Image

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One of the advantages of living in the UK is an easier access to many places that would be inaccessible to me, for reasons of time, money, convenience, etc. in the US.  When we moved to Liverpool, we decided we wanted to see as much of those places as we could possibly manage.  Affordability is still an issue because we are, after all, a family of five, which opens up logistical issues.  Most “package” vacations are marketed to families of four, or more commonly to couples.  We have to pay for an extra room, because most hotels will only sleep a maximum of four to a room.  Package excursions are also usually marketed to numbers divisible by two.  Smart of us to go with the odd number, isn’t it?

Anyway, the first such excursion we’ve managed, besides a long weekend trip to Scotland, was a week long stay in Corfu, Greece.  The seaside village of Sidari is where our resort was located, and our hotel, the Panorama Sidari Village Hotel, was fairly accommodating to our odd-numbered selves.

But, oh, back to the beginning –

We flew out on May 24th, late in the evening.  We’d booked the entire vacation through Thomas Cook, which had its good points and its bad.  The first of the bad was that they were horribly mismanaged on that first Friday of a week long holiday.  I don’t know if they didn’t look at their own flight manifests, but they only had four agents checking in hundreds of people.  The line just to check in (there was no online check in option on our tickets, for some strange reason) took us over an hour.  They had to pull people from the line to take them up to the front as their flights were getting too close to takeoff and if they’d remained in that line they would never have made it. The agents who normally checked in the special customers (I suppose the ones who paid extra for fast check in?) were busy with the near-departures.  Our boys were infinitely patient, and I’m thankful for them.  We then had to wait in line for security for only a slightly shorter amount of time.  It’s a good thing I get to the airport early, always.

Anyhow, after all that we were in through the gate and on our way without further incident.  Our flight arrived in Corfu at 4am local time.  This is the good thing about booking through Thomas Cook: I didn’t have to think about anything.  I got off the plane, we got our bags, we were bussed to the resort, quickly checked in and in bed for a nap without incident.

Our first day at the resort, we sort of overslept for breakfast (that whole getting in a 4 am thing meant we didn’t get to sleep until around 7am).  It was only 2 hours til lunch time though, so we decided to check out our balcony.  We saw this:

Image

Well, that was one side of the balcony.  The other side was this:

Image

For all the serious, our hotel was amazing.  The views were amazing, and could be found at every turn, because we were up on a hill above the beach.  The walk up to the rooms was pretty intense, but they do have a shuttle bus that runs you from the bottom of the hill to the rooms (ostensibly) every 10 minutes.  The pool was lovely, with a bar open during pool hours that served drinks, ice cream, and snacks (the sausage rolls were a hit with the boys).  Here is the pool:

Image

We could always find a sunbed/sunchair.The resort wasn’t terribly crowded, though I think it was more crowded than usual  because of British half-term holidays, which indicates that it would be safe to say it won’t get intensely overcrowded like some resorts.

The food was actually surprisingly good! I had read some reviews that said it wasn’t the best.  I think part of that is that they were balancing a line between those British people who are creatures of habit and averse to trying new foods (there are a lot of them, trust me!) and the people who wanted to try the local menu.  For my part, there was a gorgeous salad bar every day that beat the pants off any salads I’ve had since being in the UK.  I hadn’t realized how much I missed a proper salad!  But they did their best to include standard fare (beans on toast) for the first group, and then delicious local things for the rest of us (moussaka, gyros, and Soutzoukakia were some of the best samplings I had).  The staff were always pleasant and accomodating in the dining room, though the evening staff at the front desk was more pleasant than the morning staff.

The rooms were all well-sized, and they were not luxurious but they were more thanadequate.  The beds were HARD, like, if there was one thing they should do better at this hotel, it would be GET BETTER BEDS.  I ended up taking one of the pool float-beds and using it for a mattress on my twin bed.  Yes, because of our 5 person party, we had two twin rooms with an extra twin pullout in one of them.  Not for a romantic trip, this one.

The town of Sidari itself is sweet – very small and easy to walk the entirety of it.  The walk to the beach from the hotel is only 5 minutes, and it takes about 10 to walk through the whole town if you don’t stop in any of the shops.  MOST of the people you see/talk with are from the UK or are expats.  The entertainment crew at the resorts are brought in by the travel agencies to organize activities. The bartenders/servers/shop workers are the only actual locals you will meet, and they speak English with you.  In other words, this is the holiday for the tourist, not a holiday to immerse yourself in local culture. The village is nice and has a few places to eat and drink that we found very pleasant.  B.E.D. (Beverage, Entertainment, Dinig) on the main street was fabulous for a morning breakfast or an afternoon to sit, use the WiFi, and have a drink while sitting on the back patio overlooking the beach.  They had sunchairs out back and a swingset for the kids.  We went there several times, but not in the evenings, so we can’t speak to the entertainment portion of it. Another place we enjoyed was Pleasures, a small cafe that served crepes and some sinful desserts.  I had the Gyro Crepe which was just fantastic.

Image

Sidari village at night.

Day Trips were available through Thomas Cook at the resort, but we saved about 100 Euro going through the little travel shop in town.  Exact same trip, exact same boats, just much less expensive through Vlasseros travel, and the guides/drivers/agents were all very pleasant and polite.  We did two trips through them – one to Paleokastritstra and Bella Vista, and the other a boat cruise along the coast to Kassiopi.  I’d have liked to have spent more time in Kassiopi, as it was LOVELY but we were a bit limited in time by the bus schedule.

This post is getting a bit long and rambly.  I am sure I have more to say on this but I’ve also got three boys who have chicken pox (INORITE?!?) and must go put them to bed.

I will leave you with one more gorgeous picture.  G’night!

Image

Read Full Post »