|April 27 - Kerkira, Greece, on the island of Corfu
Corfu is the 2nd largest of the Greek islands in the Ionian Sea. (Albania lies just 3 miles off its northern coast.) It is very green and mountainous with olive trees covering 1/3 of the island.
Our bus tour took us to 2 palaces and a viewpoint overlooking the water and a nunnery.
Achilleion is a beautiful Habsburg palace tucked into a Greek hillside built for the tragic Austrian Empress Elisabeth (1837-1898). 'Sisi' struggled with courtly life and sought escape from the Vienna grind so built an elegant yellow palace with beautifully terraced gardens and sculptures of figures from Greek mythology. The grand staircase is really something!
Mon Repo Palace is more modest, more of a villa turned into a museum. Half of the rooms were full of artifacts and photographs. There were no gardens to speak of other than the long paved driveway through lush vegetation. It was rather a let down after having seen the Achilleion.
Alas, our guide, Maria, very knowledgeable and of good humor, spoke so rapidly and with such a strong accent we did not understand more than a quarter of what she said. Needless to say this was frustrating. However, I did understand her when she was explaining that music is an extremely important part of life on this Greek Island. Every family provides music lessons for at least one of the children (just 50 euros a year) and there are over 100 symphonies on the island. They range in size from 100 to 500 members and have loyal followings much like sports teams have in the U.S.!