If you happen to be a stray dog, I highly recommend you move to Greece. From the island of Corfu to the top of the Acropolis in Athens there seems to be a well fed population of strays that roam the streets and spend most of their days in siesta time. Evidently they’re unaware that the Greek economy is in such dire shape that tradesman in jobs classified as “hazardous” like pastry chef will soon be unable to retire at age 50. Maybe even the dogs will be forced to find work. They might pose for cute pictures with tourists or moving into the countryside where they can herd goats.
Corfu itself is a colorful island located in the Ionian Sea. Over the millennia the place has been ruled by the Romans, Venetians, French, and British among others. All have left their mark in the architecture and in some cases, the culture and traditions. One tradition they’ve stayed true to is the Eastern Med tradition of giving their saints no chance to rest in peace. Saint Spyridon, who passed away in about 348 AD, is interred in a church named after him. Four times a year they bring out the mummified corpse of the patron saint of Corfu, dress it up, and parade him around Corfu Town. Many of us have elderly friends and relatives who don’t get out that much. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln should be glad they didn’t pass away in Greece.
While St Spyridon may get little rest, we were fortunate enough to be able to be in his church on a Sunday and listen to a hauntingly beautiful hymn sung in the ages old Greek Orthodox tradition. I wish we had been able to attend the entire mass. I’ve attended worship services in places ranging from Sydney to Rio. I’m amazed at the richness and variety in our Christian worship.
Our tour also traveled from Corfu Town to the resort town of Paleokastritsa where we visited the 13th Century Theotokos Monastery. There you can see scenic vistas that would be at home in a movie. While at the town we experienced one of my travel pet peeves: The tourists that come back to the tour bus—late. But that’s a story for a future posting.
Travel Tips: We used the book DK Eyewitness Travel: The Greek Islands. Excellent background about the country and culture as well as good specifics on each location they cover. We used a ship arranged bus tour in Corfu. I’d recommend walking the town on your own if you’re in good shape or taking one of the taxis and private tours available at the port. In most tourist towns like Corfu you’ll find people waiting to serve as your guide. We did that in several other locations and had great experiences. The Rick Steves’ Europe: Greece & Turkey 2000-2009 DVD did NOT have a Corfu segment, but it does cover other Greek islands and locations that I’ll cover in future postings. Check it out from your library or buy it through the Amazon link above.
Next Week: No Tourist Left Behind?