Saturday, July 1, 2006

July 25, 2006

Day 34
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Corfu, Greece

Lovely statues at the Achilleion Palace
Today is our last tour of the cruise.  It’s hard to believe that the cruise is almost over.  Corfu is considered to be the most beautiful island in Greece.  It lies in the Ionian Sea midway between Greece and Italy.  There are trees everywhere including olive, fig, kumquat, and lemon.  Our tour guide is Fofo and she gives us the history of the island which shows the influences from the Romans, the Venetians, the French, and the English who all had ruled Corfu in the past.  Corfu became part of Greece in 1864 when the English withdrew.

Our first stop on the tour is to visit the Achilleion Palace on the other side of the island.  This palace was designed and built for the Empress Elisabeth of Austria (affectionately known as Sissi).  Sissi was very beautiful and didn’t like to conform to what the Royals dictated and she wanted to just be herself and be near the people.  She visited Corfu and fell in love with the island and the Greek people.  There was much tragedy in her life including the death of her son who died young.  She loved the statue of the wounded and dying Achilles and had the statue placed in the gardens.  This is how the Achilleion Palace got its name.  The gardens are filled with flowers, trees and statues in the Italian style, with unbelievable views of the Ionian Sea.  The palace was finished in 1891, but sadly Sissi was assassinated by an anarchist in 1898 while she was traveling.

After leaving the Achilleion Palace, we head to see the Monastery of the Virgin Mary, which sits high on top of a hill.  As you enter through the archway, you see the beautiful gardens and views of the Ionian Sea.  There are arbors of green and purple grapes and lemon trees along with beautiful statues.  What a beautiful place to live, even as a monk.  There are very few monks who live the in monasteries today as the monks are dying off and most young men today do not want to become priests.  It is a very lonely life.

After leaving the Monastery we head down the hill to the restaurant we’ll have lunch at.  It is called the Golden Fox and sits high atop another hill in a village called Paleokastritsa.  We have a delicious Greek lunch which included lamb.  The views of the Ionian Sea were the best among the entire island.

Our tour ends and we head back to the ship where we get ready for our second Formal Night.  What a great day it’s been.  We feel like the best was saved for the last as Corfu was so beautiful.

Tour of the Achilleion Palace in Corfu, Greece

Entrance to the Achilleion Palace in Corfu

Statue of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sissi) at the Achilleion Palace

Ceiling at the grand entrance to the Achilleion Palace

View of the Ionian Sea from the Achilleion Palace

Statue of Achilles from the grounds of the Achilleion Palace

Our tour guide, Fofo

Statue in the gardens of the Achilleion Palace

Statue at Achilleion Palace, Corfu

Statue of Achilles, wounded and dying from an arrow in his heel

Back view of the wounded Achilles

Palace grounds in Corfu

Overlooking the garden at the Achilleion Palace

Tour of the Monastery of the Virgin Mary, Corfu, Greece 

View of the clean, clear water of the Ionian Sea from the Monastery
Grapes at the gardens of the Monastery of the Virgin Mary

Courtyard in the Monastery of the Virgin Mary in Corfu

Pat in the gardens of the Monastery of the Virgin Mary

Bell tower of the Monastery of the Virgin Mary

Mike overlooking the Ionian Sea on the grounds of the Monastery in Corfu

Beautiful clear water of the Ionian Sea

The Golden Fox pool overlooking the Ionian Sea in Corfu

View from our table at lunch at the Golden Fox in Corfu

Close-up view of the Monastery of the Virgin Mary as seen from our table at lunch

View from our table at lunch at the Golden Fox

After our tour on Corfu, we went back to our ship and attended the formal dinner in the dining room with our dinner mates:

Our dinner companions, Brenda with her parents Bob and Lorraine

Dress-up night

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