Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Lemonia square: Same old story again...

Some things in this island does not seem to change. The narrow-mindness, stupidity and stubborness of some local people are non-descript. It is unbelievable that somebody cut again the lemon trees which started to grow again on this beautiful spacious square of the old town.

This is how the Lemonia square looked today:

What is left now...

What could be done to prevent actions like this in the future? One proposal is to protect the trees by encircle them with special metal latticework, called "tree guards" which will protect them efficiently from damage. This practice is quite common in several countries in Europe. (Tree guards in Sweden).

Two renders of how it could be done in our case, made by a friend:

In my opinion, what matters most is to prevent such activities from happening again and educate people to respect their urban enviroment, which is an important factor for our culture.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Hiking at a remote road, Nissaki Corfu - Christmas 2009

A very peaceful place on a hill full of olive trees and other greenery. A "haunted" storage house, recently inhabited maybe by an immigrant or a hermit adds a touch of mystery in my walk. A complex with villas and pool revealed at the end of this part, uninhabited at this time of the year.

The second part of my tour - trying to find my way out of the villas and heading downhill towards the place where a crazy man commited suicide. This place was haunted by his ghost, someone could hear some strange sounds until a priest was called to help the neighbours get rid of the apparition. Finally, I reached my home, after walking almost a kilometre of unspoilted nature.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

A gloomy Christmas day at my village, Nissaki

Yesterday it was Christmas day. As many of other families, we went to celebrate at my village Nissaki. Nissaki is 21 km north of Corfu Town. It's hilly and have some nice small pebbly beaches which are popular to well-to-do tourists from UK and Germany. It is full of apartments catering with tourists and it's not so dense like other more traditional villages in the island. Our apartments are on a hill almost downhill from Pantokratoras peak. We get breathtaking views from up there - the southern tip of Albania could be seen, the shoreline of Thesprotia, Corfu Town with its fortresses and on a clear day, Paxos island could be spotted as well. Nissaki is dotted with hundreds of olive trees adding a deep silver green shade to the place.

If you are interested in renting our apartments next summer, just visit our website and see the prices, the villas' facilities and some additional information: Villa Jacaranda and Villa Nicoleta.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas everyone!

"John's Corfu World"
wish you
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2010!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Old Port's Marina: The appalling situation goes on...

A neverending nightmare... It has been almost a year since my last post about the marina under construction at the Old Port and little has changed. I think now the place looks even more horrible than ever. Construction is progressing very slowly, giving me the impression that the marina will never be completed and that I should compromise with the place's current look.

I really wonder what and who is to blame for that mess. The crisis? The unwillingness of the local authorities? Do they not understand that this part of our town is a disgrace and gives tourists a bad impression?

This is how the new marina will look, if completed: not bad, given that it is not going to be huge and will serve only yachts.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Christmas in Corfu: How central streets look under Xmas Lights

Like every Christmas time and from the St. Spyridon's Day (12 Dec) to St. John's Day (07 Jan), our town is decorated with million of light bulbs. The spectacle of a sea of thousand stars hanging above our heads makes a festive mood every night.

I took some pictures tonight, just to give those away from Corfu, how it looks like:

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Happy Saint Spyridon's day!

The 12th of December is the day when our patron saint, Saint Spyridon is being commemorated. In that day many people named Spyros and Spyridoula celebrate their nameday and believe me, they are not few! A celebrational service is held in Saint Spyridon church in Corfu Town, attended by a lot of people.

But let me show you a short biography of our saint, taken from Wikipedia:

"Spyridon of Trimythous the Wonderworker (Greek: Σπυρίδων ca. 270-348) was a 4th centurybishop who was present at the First Ecumenical Council. He is also commonly referred to in Corfu as Keeper of the City (Greek: ο πολιούχος), since he is also the patron saint of that island (this is where his relics are located and venerated). He is commemorated by the church on December 12.
Spyridon was born in the village of Ashia (askia - "without shade"), Cyprus (270 AD) and died in Trimythous, Cyprus (348 AD). He was a peasant farmer and shepherd and had no education. Spyridon was married and had a daughter, Irene. After his wife died, he and his daughter both entered into monasticism. He later became the Bishop of Trimythous (during the reign of Constantine the Great) and continued in piety for which he was greatly known.
When the Arabs took Cyprus, Spyridon's body was disinterred and taken to Constantinople. The relics were found to be incorrupt, and contained a sprig of basil, the "royal plant," both of which were taken as a sign of divine confirmation of his sanctity.
When, in 1453, Constantinople fell to the Turks, Spyridon's relics were removed again; this time, to the island of Corfu by a Corfiote monk called Kalohairetis (Καλοχαιρέτης), where they remain to this day.
The relics are taken in procession every Palm Sunday and on other special occasions, for veneration by the faithful. All Philharmonics of Corfu, including the Philharmonic Society of Corfu take part in these ceremonial events. The relic of his right hand is now located in Rome.
Spyridon is the patron saint of potters (from the purported miracle of the potsherd) and the island of Corfu where he is called: "Αγιος Σπυρίδων ο πολιούχος", "Saint Spyridon, the Keeper of the City" for the miracle of expelling the plague (πανώλη) from the island.
It is believed by the faithful that the plague, on its way out of the island, scratched one of the fortification stones of the old citadel (Palaio Frourio) to indicate its fury for being expelled. This scratch is shown to visitors to this day.
Icon showing Saint Spyridon (center, front) silencing Arius (right, with hands over his mouth) during the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325.
St. Spyridon is also believed to have saved the island at the second great siege of Corfu which took place in 1716. At that time the Turkish army and naval force led by the great Sultan Achmet III appeared in Butrinto opposite Corfu.
On July 8 the Turkish fleet carrying 33,000 men sailed to Corfu from Butrinto and established a beachhead in Ipsos. The same day the Venetian fleet encountered the Turkish fleet off the channel of Corfu and defeated it in the ensuing naval battle. On July 19 the Turkish army reached the hills of the town and laid siege to the city. After repeated failed attempts and heavy fighting, the Turks were forced to raise the siege which had lasted 22 days.
There were also rumours spreading among the Turks that some of their soldiers saw St. Spyridon as a monk threatening them with a lit torch and that helped increase their panic. This victory over the Turks, therefore, was attributed not only to the leadership of Count Schulenburg who commanded the stubborn defence of the island against the Turks but also to the miraculous intervention of St. Spyridon.
After the victorious outcome of the battle, Venice honoured Schulenburg and the Corfiotes for successfully defending the island. The great composer Vivaldi was commissioned to write an opera, Juditha triumphans, in celebration of the victory.
Recognizing St. Spyridon's role in the defence of the island, Venice legislated the annual "Litany of St. Spyridon" on August 11 as a commemoration of the event. His feast day is celebrated in the East on the Saturday before Great Lent (known as "Cheesefare Saturday") and December 12. For those Eastern Churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, December 12 falls on December 25 of the modern Gregorian Calendar. In the West he is commemorated on December 14.
St. Spyridon is also the patron saint of the Tolstoy family. Andrei Tolstoy (fl. 15th century) chose St. Spyridon as the family's saint and he remains so in both branches to this day. The Grand Prince of Muscovy Basil II (1425-1462) apparently gave a gold cross containing relics of the saint to Andrei. This reliquary survives to this day and is held by the senior member of the Tolstoy family, now Nikolai Tolstoy."

A three-day long worship is held from December 11 to December 13. People from all over Corfu and Greece come to the Saint Spyridon church to pray.

Our patron saint is without doubt very significant for all Corfiots. He has helped a lot of sick people and those in need of help, courage or forgiveness. We are so lucky that we have Him!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Visiting the neglected Avramiou hill...

Corfu Town is hilly. Built on and between several hills, it is similar to Rome or Constantinopolis in that respect. Two of its great fortresses are on the top of hills, the Old one is on the homonymous peninsula and the New one on the top of Saint Mark hill. Besides those, smaller fortresses were built by the Venetians to stregthen and help the defence line provided by the two larger forts: One of them was the Avrami fort, on the top of Avrami hill.
It was built after the Turkish invasion of 1716 on the site of then long gone enormous and luxurious "Avrami Villa" which was destroyed by the Turks in 1537. It consisted of many facilities, like storage buildings, bastions, lookouts and a system of underground tunnels made possible for soldiers to communicate with Salvador fortress (on the site where "Dasaki" and the Prison now stand - I'll cover those in the future) and San Rocco fortress. From the Avrami fort, someone could control the surrounding area up to Potamos and Kefalomantouko. The fate of this military facility, like many others, was unfortunate. Before the British left the island, they blew up the fort. The power of the explosion was so big that material exploded away and residences around it suffered minor damage.
Now, little evidence can be found of its existence. The place is now forgotten in its secludity like many other green oases in our town. I decided to walk up the hill and get some shots.

The view from the middle of my way to the top was special; lots of landmarks could be seen, like the Platitera campanile, the airport's runway, the new port, Koulines hill, the twin TV and Radio antennas near Kanalia and Kanoni peninsula.

It was also possible - although somewhat limited due to the greenery- to see the Sarocco, Tennis and Leoforos Alexandras area.

Finally, after ascending all the steep road, I made it to the top. The first thing I noticed was the antenna park, which is a kind of a landmark because it's visible from many parts of town.

Looking at the opposite direction, neglet was obvious everywhere. The site of the once glorious fort is now covered with litter and apart from that, it is full of used condoms and evidence of drug use. Where are the authorities? Are they informed about those illegal activities happening - mostly during the night- on the top of the hill?

I forgot to mention in my brief history of the place that in late 19th century, a house for the elder was built on the top. Unfortunately, it is vacant and it looks now more like a ghost. I was lucky that the gate leading to the site was open.

On the left stands a small building. It might was a facility for the elder's house or a kind of administrative building. It was derelict as well.

The main building stands on the right, delapidated and ready to fall apart.

Suddenly, I noticed an interesting detail on the left side of the edifice: A beautifully carved marble side door with some Venetian elements!

I spent some time looking at the view spreading beyond me. The New Fortess, the campanile of Saint Spyridon church, Vido island even the top of the Old Fortress behind the walls of the New one could be seen.

As time passed, I decided to make my way downhill taking another few shot of the view towards Mantouki and Kogevina hill.

It is really depressing that a place gifted with spendid view, an urban oasis is now a stronghold of drug addicts. It would have been turned into a place of entertainment and recreation - an alternative option to Spianada. I really hope those who have the power, realise its potential and Avrami hill will again become a landmark.