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Corfu island news and views

A beach holiday favourite for several decades, Corfu is located in the Ionian chain of Greek islands that lie off the north-west coast of mainland Greece. One of the first to be "discovered" by package holiday firms parts of Corfu have been overrun with cheap hotels and happy-hour bars. But most of the downmarket damage has been confined to a few areas; large parts of Corfu have some of the most beautiful beaches and most romantic villages in the Greek islands.

Azimut ferry Joy
New ferry links for the Ionian

The Ionian islands look set to get a new ferry to link some of the biggest holiday hotspots in Greece. The Ionian chain includes the very popular holiday islands of Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkas and Zante. Although they attract thousands of UK visitors each year, ferry links between the islands have always been notoriously poor. Now a ferry route to link all the Ionian islands for the first time looks ready to set sail on May 1 and run right through the summer season until the end of October. Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis announced the new ferry service at the Regional Development Conference of the Ionian islands. The new sea ferry services will be run by Azimut Joy Cruises with a 30-metre ship that will carry up to 260 passengers. The Minister said: "The linking of the Ionian islands will be a new reality that will put an end to the isolation between islands belonging to the same region". The new ferry will link Corfu with Paxi, Lefkada, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zakynthos with sailings every day except Sunday. Each week the ferry with travel from Corfu, in the north, to Zante (Zakynthos), in the south, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and back again (Zante to Corfu) on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The full journey will take about eight hours, leaving Corfu at 8 am and arriving in Zakynthos about 4 pm. Details of sailing time can be found on the right. It's only in Greek at the moment but those with a basic knowledge of the Greek alphabet will be able to decipher the islands of ΚΕΡΚ"Ρ' ΚΕΡΚΥΡA (CORFU), ΠAΞΟΙ (PAXOS), ΛΕΥΚADA (LEFKADA), ΙΘAΚH (ITHAKA), ΚΕΦAΛΟΝΙA (KEFALONIA) and ZAΚΥΝΘΟS (ZAKYNTHOS) or something similar. Although plenty of ferries call at these islands they are usually heading east-west on routes between the mainlands of Italy and Greece. There are a few local inter-island ferries but these usually just day cruises, have poor connections and irregular sailing times. This is the first ferry to run the whole length of the Ionian islands.  With three passenger and car ferries plus two flying dolphins, Joy Lines, a subsidiary of Joy Cruises, has been operating since 2005 running day cruises and tours from Corfu to Albania. The launch of this new Ionian ferry service could trigger a wave of island hopping tourists who can now sail from island to island.  As the closest Greek islands to the UK, the Ionian islands can be reached in flight times of three hours or so. The Ionian group lies off the west coast of mainland Greece and the are notably greener than other islands thanks to heavy winter rains. Good sandy beaches and shallow seas help to make most islands in the Ionian chain very popular with families. Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkas and Zante are the best known but the smaller islands of Paxos and Ithaka are also well worth a visit.

hellenic seaplanes
Seaplane test on Corfu

The first seaplane test flights in Greece have been carried out on the Ionian island of Corfu. A 10-seater Quest Zodiac flew from Corfu Town harbour to neighbouring Paxi and other islands in the area. The flights are another critical step in getting regular Greek island seaplane flights off the ground following seven years of setbacks. But the seaplane test flights only show what unsatisfactory progress has been made so far in a project bogged down in Greek red tape and little hope of regular services next year. The seaplane repeatedly took off and landed at the port of Corfu and destinations in nearby islands. The flights were overseen by a consortium of Water Airports SA, K2 Smart Jets and two Japanese companies all hoping to get flights underway for the 2018 tourist season. But business leaders admit it's a been long haul. K2 Smart Jets owner Andreas Karotsieri said: "Our goal is to begin operating flights immediately when the next tourist season starts, but that depends on whether state mechanisms, which are particularly slow, will work at corresponding speeds." Little hope of that as the Greek government continues to limit licences and drag its heels. Rivals, Hellenic Seaplanes SA, has been trying for five years to establish a waterway network top operate seaplane services to the Greek islands. But it is faced with a hall of bureaucratic mirrors. A public consultation on the licensing of waterways ended in September 2016 but has not yet been discussed by the Greek Parliament. Without a legal framework in place, there is little chance of private companies investing in waterway infrastructure which the Greek government now says must be publicly owned. But public investment is at a snail's pace as officials get bogged down in approvals of expenditure, tender processing, policy changes, water and land surveys, risk assessments and ecological surveys. In 2016 the government banned private waterways, despite companies pouring millions of euros into the project. But with an insufficient number of public owned waterways to ensure sustainability for companies and a stable legal framework, seaplane services have little chance of taking off. The Hellenic Seaplanes group has negotiated waterway concessions for many Greek islands including Skyros, Alonissos, Skopelos, Tinos, Patmos, Thassos and Chios. Water Airports SA now has licences to operate seaplane bases in Corfu, Paxi and Patras and want to licence another 34 seaplane bases in the Ionian, Crete, Cyclades, Dodecanese and Saronic Gulf, Immediate plans are to launch regular flights from Corfu next spring, but Hellenic Seaplanes were saying the same last year, and the year before that, and the year before ...

Corfu Achilleion
Winter holidays on Corfu

The popular Greek island of Corfu is the latest to promote itself as a winter holiday destination - but in Spain rather than the UK. Despite being one of the favourite Greek island holiday destinations for Brits, the delights of Corfu are splashed across the latest Spanish edition of a leading travel magazine InStyle. Headlined 'Mediterranean Winter' an eight-page article in the fashion and lifestyle magazine features Spanish actress Carolina Bang touting Corfu as the island to be seen in the winter months. The article boasts of Corfu as "a great destination for those who seek the light of the Mediterranean, even in the coldest of months." A strange claim given Spain's own Balearic islands lie on virtually the same parallel as the Ionian and offer just as much winter sun. The feature shows the Spanish actress sipping cocktails outside Corfu's Byzantine Fortress and strolling around the narrow streets and small boutiques. With winter temperatures on both Spanish and Greek islands averaging a cool 11°C, there is no comparison when it comes to rainfall. Corfu is notorious for its heavy winter rains, with rainfall often higher than London, and an average 12 rainy days a month in the winter compared to three days on the Balearic islands of Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The Spanish article promotes more than Corfu sunshine however and features the many island museums, the churches, the Corfiot cuisine and the cafe lifestyle of the capital town's Liston Arcade as well as other Corfu attractions. A growing number of Greek islands are promoting themselves as a winter destination this year. Santorini recently launched a campaign to attract more winter visitors. Hotel and taverna owners have been persuaded to stay open over the winter months, and visitor attraction will keep their doors open all year round as well. Other initiatives aimed at promoting all-year-round tourism include running more regular transport services over the winter such as flights from Athens and daily ferries. The initiative may well pave the way for other Greek islands to cash in on attracting more winter visitors. More islands are expected to follow as the Greek government pledges cash to stimulate the winter tourism trade.

hellenic seaplanes otter
Corfu seaplanes latest

Corfu may be on track to launch its new seaplane services this year but officials are concerned about exactly where they will be allowed to land. Seaplane flights got a boost last year when the Greek government decided to fast-track applications to build seaplane landing strips on islands across Greece. Seaplanes are seen as a quickly and relatively cheap way to open up tourist transport links between the Greek Islands and help boost holiday visitors numbers on even the most remote islands. Corfu was one of the first to apply for a license to operate seaplane services from the main port to other islands in the Ionian Sea such as Paxos, Kefalonia,Lefkas and Zakynthos. But it appears that other Greek Islands in the Ionian group have not been as swift as Corfu in getting clearance to build offshore seaplane landing strips. Now Corfu tourist leaders are worried that seaplanes may be able to take off from Corfu this summer but not have anywhere to land. A special conference organised to discuss the development of seaplane services warned that priority must be given to establishing suitable landing sites in the Ionian if the Corfu project was to be a success. "It is very important after the water-drome in Corfu is licensed that water-dromes on other Ionian Islands offer facilities for the sustainable operation of seaplanes in the rest of the region,' delegates were told. A dossier supporting the building of a water-drome on the neighbouring island of Paxos is still waiting for authorisation. Hopes are high that it will get the greek light this month but the granting of a license to build is only the first stage in a complex planning process. It may well be that Corfu seaplanes could be sitting idle in Corfu harbour this year because they have no official places where they can land. This could be a major embarrassment for the Greek authorities who have been keen to push ahead with seaplane services to cash in on the 2015 tourist season. Although Paxos is pushing ahead with plans for a water-drome there has been a 'distinct lack of interest' in the scheme by authorities on Lefkas where initial interest in the seaplane project quickly faded, the conference was told. But it's not only the other Ionian islands where initial enthusiasm has stalled. Mainland ports in the Peloponnese and Ioannina have yet to get plans for seaplane services off the ground. "The challenge now is to proceed as quickly as possible licensing water-dromes in other Ionian islands, the continental shores of our region and also in the Peloponnese or Ioannina for tourist seaplane flight to become viable," conference delegates heard. "With Corfu the only port with a licensed water-drome, routes cannot be started and for seaplane companies to be sustainable, it should be possible for a network of routes and development of a minimum flight operations to the other Ionian Islands, Lake of Ioannina and the port of Patras." The lack of interest in the seaplane project is puzzling. It is not as though water-dromes are expensive to build. Construction and maintenance costs are relatively small. On Paxos, for example, the wooden deck and a prefabricated shelter to check in passengers for seaplane flights had come in at less that €20,000. And it is not as though seaplane project have been bogged down in red tape, as happened the last time seaplane services were attempted in the Ionian. The Greek Ministry of Transport is bending over backwards to get licenses issued. The Mayor of Corfu warned delegates that seaplanes ought to have adopted as a means of transport between the Ionian islands 'many decades ago'. He told the meeting: "There are countries that base an entire internal communication network in seaplanes. For the Ionian islands will be very important for the development of communication between our islands." Seaplanes are expected to be a cheap and versatile means of transport between islands and serve not only the tourism sector but also be used to fly in medical supplies, small items of cargo and take part in search and rescue operations.

Achilleion Palace Sissi Corfu
Corfu palace monument

Thousand of holiday visitors to Corfu take time off from the island's golden sand beaches to visit one of the many museums and historic sites. And high on the list for any visitor to Corfu is the impressive Achilleion Palace, also called Sissi's Palace which lies 12 kilometres south of Corfu Town in the village of Gastouri. Now Greek officials have granted 'monument' status to the many artefacts, such as sculptures and furniture, that grace the extensive gardens and rooms at the historic site. Built in 1890 for Elizabeth (Sissi), the Empress of Austria, Achilleion Palace became her summer retreat with manicured gardens and picturesque views over the Ionian sea. The palace grounds were designed on the theme of the mythical Greek hero Achilles and has become one of the island's top tourist attractions. Many Achilleion artefacts have already been classed as monuments notably the 61 marble sculptures that are scattered around the gardens, the 50 paintings and engravings that hand on the walls of the various rooms and the bronze sculptures and carvings that can be seen in many of the rooms. Now, Greece's Central Council of Modern Monuments has added a total of 45 items of furniture, eight mirrors and a even a pipe organ to the list. The furniture comes from two periods in the palace's history. The first are the pieces commissioned by Empress Elizabeth during the late 19th century. These include the palace library, which is adorned with embossed decorations and inlaid marquetry, a desk and a chair with embossed mythical creatures, a wardrobe and mirror featuring carved dolphins and several items of furniture from the palace chapel. The other furniture comes from the later period when the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, lived at the palace. This includes oak furniture with white lacquer and bronze decorations as well as a desk with a swivel chair, a red marble dresser and a cast iron bedstead. It was Kaiser Wilhelm who ordered the building of the distinctive Kaiser bridge, a stone jetty set in the cliffs below for berthing the royal yacht. A hugely popular tourist attraction on Corfu, the palace recently underwent a major revamp to protect and restore all four of the main buildings: the palace museum, the Regiment building, the Baron's building and the Porter's building. The palace fell into disrepair after the First World War when foreign troops stripped of many of its treasures but the building was eventually restored by the Greek government and many of its contents recovered. The impressive palace, its gardens stuffed with neoclassical Greek statues and with very fine over the surrounding Corfu landscape and the Ionian sea have made it more than a major tourist attraction. The palace also featured in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, shot there in 1981 and starring the British actor Roger Moore. Several scenes in the twelfth Bond spy film were shot in the Sissi Palace casino. The palace gets very busy in the summer with thousands of tourists bussed in on special tours so visitors who prefer a quiet stroll through the palace and its gardens should arrive early to avoid the coach tour crowds.

cruise ship costa fascino corfu
New holiday cruises to Corfu

Holidays cruises to Corfu could get busier with new cruise ship and ferry routes opening up to port resorts in Italy. The Corfu Port Authority (CPA) is set to relaunch the Corfu to Italy coastal shipping route in the summer of 2015 with new sailings to the southern Italian port of Brindisi in the Apulia region on the Adriatic coast. New cruise holiday routes will also be opened up to the Italian Adriatic port resorts of nearby Bari and the eastern seaport of Ancona, not far from Rome. On top of this talks on a new route from Venice to Corfu are also under way and, if it gets the go-ahead, is expected to attract many more visitors from Italy and Northern Europe. Starting a Greek island holiday from Italy, with a ferry or cruise crossing of the Adriatic is already a popular option for many holidaymakers. In fact, the most common way to travel between Italy and Greece is by ferry across the Adriatic Sea with several Italian ports to choose from to take a ferry to Greece, Croatia, and many other Mediterranean destinations. Brindisi is already the Italian port most commonly used to catch a ferry to Greece as it offers the most travel options. Frequent ferries leave Brindisi for the Greek islands of Corfu and Kefalonia then on to the mainland Greek ports of Igoumenitsa, and Patras. Brindisi is located at the 'heel' of the Italian boot and it's the most southern Italian ferry port. It's possible for cruise holiday passengers to reach Corfu from Brindisi in under seven hours with departures throughout the day. Bari is also in southern Italy and holiday visitors can catch a ferry here to Corfu, Igoumenitsa, and Patras as well as Dubrovnik, Split, and other ports in Croatia. Most Bari ferries leave in the evening and have sleeping cabins. The fastest ferries travel between Bari and Corfu in about eight hours. Bari's ferry port is close to the resort's historic centre, centro storico, which is a pleasant place to explore before the ferry leaves. Ancona is in central Italy and is probably the most convenient port for a ferry to Corfu if you don't want to travel overland to the southern Italian ports, but the sea journeys are much longer. Ancona ferries go to Igoumenitsa and Patra. with journey times to the former taking 15 to 20 hours and for travel to Patras it's more like 20-23 hours. The ferries from Venice will probably take around 24 hours to reach Corfu and longer to get to Igoumenitsa and Patras. Ferries usually leave Venice in the evening and sail overnight. More cruise ship visitors for 2015 Corfu tourist leaders are confident that new ferry services will bring in plenty more visitors in 2015. Port authorities are already boasting 370 slots already booked by large-capacity cruise ships for next year and are confident of even more booking from smaller cruise operators. Earlier this month the docking of the Costa Fascinosa cruise ship in Corfu officially marked the end of the tourist season for the Ionian island port. Tourism officials are pleased with visitor figures this year despite the difficult economic conditions in Greece and the unstable political situation in the wider east European region. According to latest figures a total of 672,000 cruise passengers visited Corfu with around 72.000 passengers staying in Corfu for their holidays in 2014. Corfu Port Authority figures show a high occupancy rate of berths in the port this year at 90.3% compared to 87.5 % in 2013 and 86% in 2012. The majority of ship passengers visiting Corfu were from the UK with a total of 145,353 passengers or 22.8% of total boat traffic, followed by the Italians with 112,554 passengers (17.7%) and the Germans with 6,489 (10%). One of the most encouraging signs for Corfu tourism officials was the growing upward trend to cruise and other ship passenger arrivals throughout the year with November notching up one of its highest rates with 18 cruise ships berthing in Corfu post being 30,871 cruise passengers. Although port activity in Corfu was down overall for the year, port officials say this was expected given the difficult economic times for the Greek economy. Overall cruise visits dipped for the whole year with 85 fewer cruise ships docking at Corfu, down 17%, and a fall of 10% on the 709,000 passengers that arrived in 2013.

hellenic seaplanes otter2
Corfu gets first seaplanes

The popular holiday island of Corfu looks set to get Greek island seaplane services flying again after a deal was signed to open the first water airport in Greece. The move follows clearance by Greek environmental officials on the impact of a water airport to the south-west of the main harbour in Corfu Town. The agreement should pave the way for up to 100 seaplane services to Greek islands across the Aegean, providing tourist visitors with quick and easy access to popular holiday resorts as well as to many of the more remote Greek islands. The private company Hellenic Seaplanes has plans to operate scheduled flights from Athens to all Greek islands, coastal ports and lakes where the current transportation system is inadequate or problematic. The company says scheduled inter-island routes will be established based on demand generated from the local communities and from company partners. The approval for the creation of the first water airport in Greece on the island of Corfu was signed by Greek Environment Minister Giannis Maniatis following a meeting with officials from the Corfu Port Authority and senior executives of Hellenic Seaplanes. Approval has been granted for the creation of a new water airport to the south-west of the existing port of Corfu with buildings, a floating pier and permission for up to 10 flights per day. A nearby desalination unit may have to be rebuilt at the port's eastern entrance to help make way for the new seaplane port. Greek Environment Minister Giannis Maniatis said: "With this approval, we are giving the green light to create water airports across the country, having now configured all the required processes." "The support of the investment initiative and the formation of another development landscape in the country will substantially contribute to the upgrading of the tourist product and the creation of new jobs." Greek seaplanes take 10 years to get off the ground It has certainly been a long time getting inter-island seaplane services off the ground in Greece. The first Greek seaplane service was launched by Canadian-backed company AirSea Lines way back in 2004 with seaplanes flying out of the holiday resort of Gouvia. The Greek company used two de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft to run seaplane services from the marina at Gouvia, Corfu to the nearby islands of Paxi and to Ithaka, off the coast of Kefalonia. In 2007 AirSea Lines tried to expand its network into the Aegean but was forced to use the smaller port of Lavrio rather than its preferred location of Piraeus, near Athens, after finding insufficient infrastructure at Piraeus for seaplane operations. But the airline ceased operations the following year in 2008, citing Greek bureaucratic and infrastructure hurdles and unworkable regulations by the Civil Aviation Authority and the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry. The problems could have been overcome but for Greek government red tape that held up negotiations for months. Among the problems cited was the demand that only Greek pilots be allowed to fly the planes. Ironically, it was the collapse of the Greek economy and a possible exit from Europe that helped pave the way for the revival of seaplane services as the government set about clearing red tape and bureaucracy that threatened to stifle entrepreneurial companies. Red tape cleared for seaplane flights Hellenic Seaplanes was set up in 2013, with headquarters in Athens, following the passing of the bill in the Greek parliament that set the legal framework for water aerodrome and seaplane operations in Greece, relaxed regulations and cleared much of the red tape that had dogged the original plans of AirSea Lines. Hellenic Seaplanes now plans to operate around 100 scheduled flights between Greek islands and coastal ports by the end of 2015. As well as scheduled seaplane services, the company also plans sightseeing tours over the Greek Islands as well as a variety of excursion packages. It also hopes to launch charter flights and private fire flights for tourist and business groups and for government, corporate, institutional, scientific, medivac, search and rescue, sports teams, advertising and other promotional services. The latest plans should prove a big boost to tourism in the Greek islands. Many of the more remote islands should get a significant tourist boost as they become much easier to reach, especially islands with poor ferry connections. Corfu and the Ionian islands provide an excellent platform to launch operations as, although islands like Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkas and Zante are close to each other, ferry connections between them and many of the smaller offshire islands such as Ithaka, Paxos and Meganissi are relatively poor.

corfu-world-travel-awards 2014
Corfu takes top Euro beach title

Best beaches accolade for Corfu at World Travel Awards. The popular Greek holiday island of Corfu has taken the top title as Europe's Leading Beach Destination in this year's World Travel Awards 2014. The island took over the honour from last year's winner, the Algarve in Portugal, at a gala ceremony in Athens. The award, known as the 'Oscars' of the travel industry was received by Corfu Governor Christos Iraklis Skourtis, The Acropolis in Athens won the title of Europe's Leading Tourist Attraction, the island of Corfu was dubbed Europe's Leading Beach Destination and Aegean Airlines won Europe's Leading Regional Airline in a gala ceremony. World Travel Awards President Graham Cooke said: "It was a fantastic night for our winners, congratulations to them all. This is our first visit to Greece and Divani Apollon Palace & Thalasso have done a wonderful job in hosting our Europe Gala Ceremony; they should be tremendously proud of their achievements." A holiday favourite of the British since Victorian times, Corfu is the Greek Islands that is closest to the UK and the most northern of the Ionian chain of islands that run down off the north-west coast of mainland Greece. One of the first of the Greek islands to be opened up for package tourism, the downmarket demands of package tour operators, took their toll in the 1960's and 1970's with many Corfu beaches and fishing villages bulldozed to make way for cheap hotels and neon-lit bars. Indeed Corfu, like Kos and Crete, were once an embarrassing by-word for cheap-as-chips holidays aimed at lager-lout tourists. Much has changed in recent years with the island 'rediscovered' by more discerning tourists. Around 10,000 Brits have permanent homes on the island and, away from the popular tourist strips is wild and unspoilt countryside, little touched by tourism. The most popular holiday beaches are found in the north and east Corfu while the west boasts remote bays and the central hills has remote villages and Corfiots who are famously welcoming and friendly The European awards by the World Travel Awards(WTA) marks the second leg of its annual grand tour which opened in Dubai earlier this year and now heads to Ecuador, for the South and Central America awards followed by stop in Nigeria, India, and the Caribbean island of Anguilla before the Grand Final Marrakech, Morocco in November. WTA's global media partner network includes International New York Times, TV5Monde, CNBC Arabiya, Newsweek, Outlook Traveller, Travel & Leisure, Khaleej Times, Trade Arabia, TTN, Trav Talk India, Publituris, ASTA Network, Breaking Travel News, eTurboNews, Travel Daily News International and Focus on Travel News.

jet2holidays airplane
Jet2 sets sights on Corfu

Plans to fly 30,000 Brits on Corfu holidays. Fast growing airline and holiday company Jet2holidays is to target holidays on Corfu in 2014 with plans to increase holiday visitors by 50%. The tour operator, which is based in the north of England, already flies weekly charters that carry more than 20,000 British holidaymakers to the island of Corfu over the holiday season. After talks last year between Corfu's mayor with officials from Hellenic Island Services, which is the official representative of the company in Corfu, Jet2 plans to boost that number by at least 10,000. The company jet2.com owns 52 aircraft and operates all over the Mediterranean. Over the past three years the firm has earmarked five aircraft to fly to Corfu holiday destinations on a weekly basis from May to September. The aircraft have a seat capacity of 250 and fly from airports across northern England including Manchester, Newcastle, East Midlands, Leeds and Glasgow. This means that Jet2.com now carries more than 20,000 British visitors on holidays to Corfu. Now company bosses plan to add two more aircraft to the weekly schedule. It will take the Corfu holiday target for the 2014 season to more than 30,000, showing the company has great confidence in the Greek island holidays market despite the country's economic problems. The tour operating branch of the company,Jet2holidays.com, was formed four years ago as part of the airline jet2.com. The Jet2holidays.com arm is mainly engaged in selling complete tourist package holidays that include flight and lodging and has experienced rapid growth, doubling its customers each year. This rapid growth has turned Jet2holidays from a minor player in the British holiday market to the third largest tour operator in Britain. Corfu saw a major boost in holiday visitors in 2013, as did many of the Greek Islands. Latest figures from the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises) show a double-digit rise for holidaymakers in Corfu with an 11.6% increase on the previous year with 892,202 holiday visitors to the island up to the end of September.

Bruce Willis
Bruce on Corfu

Bruce Willis on Corfu. Holiday visitors to the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea may soon be rubbing shoulders with even more celebrities. Rumours are rife that American movie star Bruce Willis has bought a summer holiday villa on Corfu island. If true it adds yet another celebrity name to the long list of international stars that opt for the Greek Island when seeking that perfect holiday destination. According to Greek press reports, the actor star of the 'Die Hard' series of movie blockbusters visited Corfu this summer with his wife Emma Heming and their daughter. After a holiday on the island he apparently decided that a property on the Ionian island would make a great away-from-it-all holiday base. He was reported to have bought a luxury villa in the south of Corfu in the area around Kavos. He joins a long list of celebrities who have holiday villas on the Greek islands or who pay regular visits to Greek Island beaches. This year a galaxy of top name celebrities have been spotted on Greek Island beaches including Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson on Anitparos, Harrison Ford on Syros, Cristiano Ronaldo on Crete, Madonna on Ithaca and Leonardo DiCaprio on Paros. Other celebrities taking Greek island holidays this year include Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jeremy Irons, Russell Crowe, Naomi Campbell, Jon Bon Jovi and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones to name just a selection.

Greece rubbish bins
Corfu clean-up

Demands for a Corfu clean-up. Hotel owners on the island of Corfu are demanding a clean-up of island rubbish over fears for Corfu's reputation as a holiday destination. The Federation of Hotel Owners claims the issue of cleanliness is one of the most serious problems facing Corfu today. They have called on the municipality to "take all measures" to clean up public areas, clear rubbish from the streets and empty bins. A statement said: "It is inconceivable that at the peak of the tourist season, Corfu presents the picture of a "dump" and is discredited internationally, while Corfiots entrepreneurs are in really difficult economic conditions and desperately trying to survive and provide guests with the best possible service." Government cutbacks in the recent economic slump have resulted in fewer worker cleaning the streets of Corfu. Holiday visitors can find overflowing bins and rubbish dumped in the street for days before it is cleared away. Corfu hotel owners insist that modern-day tourists expect to find a clean environment when they go on holiday and they want a definitive solution to Corfu's rubbish cleaning problems. They added: "This is the shame not only of our island but also for ourselves and that we allow to our Corfu 'gem' to become a wasteland." The call comes as the island water company DEYAK is forced to ration water supplies as the island faces drought conditions in August. Water supplies are to be turned off between 3am and 5am is a bid to conserved supplies and island visitors have been told to use water sparingly during the day. Water officials say those people living on high ground are expected to face the biggest problems with supplies.

Corfu Achilleion
Corfu palace gets revamp

One of the best known tourist attractions on Corfu, the Achilleion or 'Sissy's Palace' is to get a major makeover. The old palace complex, which attracts thousands of Corfu holiday visitors each year, will get cash to restore and protect all four of its main buildings: the Palace itself, now a museum, the Regiment building, the Baron's building and the Porter's building. Cash will also be given to restore the palace's original main stairway which is considered by experts to be near collapse after years of neglect. The restoration project was announced by Central Council of Modern Monuments along with cash for measures for maintenance and emergency measures to protect the buildings from humidity, corrosion and structural problems. The Achilleion was built in 1889-1892 by Austro-Hungarian Empress Elisabeth (Sissy) and purchased by Kaiser William II of Germany after her death. During and between both world wars the palace was occupied by foreign troops, pillaged of many of its treasure and eventually abandoned. It briefly became a casino before being bought by the state and turned into a museum and the casino scene from the James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only (1981), was filmed at the Achilleion. Several rebuilding and restoration projects have helped restore the palace to its former glory and it has now become one of Corfu's major tourist attractions. The palace and gardens are full of neoclassical Greek statues. It boasts particularly fine gardens on the hill look overlooking the surrounding landscape and the Ionian sea. The centrepiece of the gardens is a marble statue of the mortally wounded Achilles wearing a simple cloth and an ancient Greek hoplite helmet.

What Happens In Kavos
Corfu holiday show

Greek anger at Corfu holiday show. A recent TV documentary on the antics of drunken Brits on holiday in Kavos Corfu has come under fire from a Greek tourism minister. The Channel 4 TV programme 'What Happens in Kavos' followed the drunken trail of parties of Brits either working or on holiday in the notorious Corfu party resort. Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni has sent a letter of protest to channel bosses complaining at the poor image of Greece depicted in the Channel 4 show. She said: "Greece, Corfu and the tourism product we offer in any case does not have this repulsive image presented. The show is highly offensive for Greece and its citizens'" Scenes show drunken youngsters cavorting in the resorts clubs and bars as they binge drink on bar hopping tours with sexual promiscuity high on the agenda. Mrs Kefalogianni said she was sure millions of British tourists who go on Greek islands holiday each year would agree with her. She added: "Greece became a global tourist attraction because it is a place that, apart from its natural beauty, embodies universal values and symbols that this show ignores in a provocative way." Kavos is notorious for drunken British louts on bar crawls. As the Greek Island Postcards site says: "Gangs of youths looking for a "larf" give Kavos the hostile air of an English soccer town on match day. Expect shops selling lewd T-shirts, video bars named after TV sitcoms and lager swilling bozos trying to match IQs against sandal sizes." Kavos has at least 80 music bars on the main tourist strip as well as dance clubs and karaoke cafes that go mental from nightfall to sunrise. Visitors complain of 'free shots' mixed with meths to cut costs while Kavos tavernas serve little else than pizzas, burgers, kebab and chips. The secretary of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) pledges to take all 'necessary measures' to restore Greece's image abroad.

Corfu Magloudes torpedo
Corfu torpedo

Corfu hill village and torpedo mystery. There are many hidden Corfu holiday attractions for summer visitors to the island but few more curious than the ad-hoc monuments to the Second World War. Corfu played only a relatively minor role in the conflict but relics of the war can be found in some unusual places. Holiday visitors who wander away from the beach resorts into the interior and find themselves in the Corfu hill village of Magloudes are likely to be struck by a large torpedo mounted on metal plinths near the village square. The village is set in the hills between the beach holiday resorts of Paleokastritsa and Arillas and is about 7km from the sea up a steep hill. It is known that many submarines and torpedo boats were operational in Corfu waters during the war but what a torpedo is doing in a Corfu hill village is a bit of a mystery. Both German and Italian warships patrolled the Greek Islands and there were a number of torpedoes washed ashore that, presumably, were fired but failed to detonate. The Magloudes torpedo is interesting in that it still has a metal plate on the site inscribed with the name of the maker and the date of construction. The inscription show the torpedo was of German origin and built in Keil but the date is unusual - it says 1964 which makes it impossible to be a weapon from the Second World War. Another war relic can be found in the Corfu beach resort of Pelekas. Although dubbed locally the 'Pelekas Torpedo' is it, in fact, as mine. The history of this is a little more clear as it was washed up on Pelekas beach during the war and spirited away by the locals and 'hidden' until the 1950's when it made its appearance in the Pelekas village square, painted in blue and white stripes of the Greek flag. The mine sparked controversy recently when the Pelekas authorities had it repainted in its original colour much to the dismay of some of the locals. They went to work with paint strippers and the 'monument' remained in a sorry looking state for several months before it was mysteriously repainted blue and white. It would be interesting to know how many more war relics lie scattered around Corfu, especially those set up as monuments in Corfu hill villages and resorts

Solar panels
Sunshine on sale

Corfu holiday sunshine goes on sale. Regular visitors to the Corfu holiday resort of Pelekas may well have noticed just how 'green' the surrounding hills have become in recent years. This is not a reference to the leafy green trees and shrubs that carpet the Corfu hillsides but the hundreds of solar panel that have sprung up. Most of the solar panels can be seen in the Ropa Valley, quite close to the Corfu holiday resort, where the south-facing hillsides are covered in hundreds of solar panel cells. This growth in green energy is being spearheaded by new Greek laws which not only offers generous state subsidies towards erecting for the solar photovoltaic units but also buys the power they produce at a very attractive rate. There was a bit of a hiccup when purchase rates were cut recently as part of the national austerity package but owners of solar farms are still getting a decent euro return on the investment. Of course, the Greek Islands are soaked in sunshine for much of the year so it makes good sense to turn the sun's rays into valuable energy. Clean, renewable energy is clearly a great benefit but the downside is that in Pelekas, as in other Greek Islands, several hundred olive trees were hacked down to make way for the energy panels. Owners say the olive trees were old and uneconomic but the damage done to the beautiful Corfu landscape has been considerable. It is, after all, the lovely scenery that attracts thousands of holiday visitors to Corfu year after year and tourism is just a big a business as solar farms. Difficult decisions will have to be made over the next few years if the Greek Islands are to prosper in the economic crisis and innovative ideas such a solar panels are to be welcome. But islands like Corfu must take care that, in the drive for profit, they don't lose their unique appeal to the holidaymakers that choose a Greek Island holiday above all others.

Corfu Villages book cover
Hill villages of Corfu

Hill villages of Corfu ebook. Visitors who tire of beaches and look to get away from the holiday coast can find some beautiful inland villages on Corfu that are a throw-back to the island's past. Villagers may be few, as rural jobs have vanished over the years, and villages may be too quiet for some but their tranquil beauty remains unblemished. Many of Corfu's inland villages are only a short drive from the main beach holiday resorts and inland tours make a refreshing alternative to the busy beaches and noisy clubs. Now author Steve Ford had produced a welcome e-book detailing is happy time spent in Corfu to both give something back to the island he loves as well as lending a helping hand to the charities and villages of Corfu. The idea came about when he was asked moderate the Corfu Forum community site and decided to put together some of his own experiences of the island. His first book will be about the hill villages of central Corfu with more planned on the villages to the north and the south of the island. As Steve says: "All the villages in the book have their own story to tell. They are all unique for some reason or another whether it be for their history, landmarks, local traditions or views." The beach resorts of Corfu have been famous since the 60's and 70's, but the villages have been here for centuries and many have yet to be discovered by the thousands of visitors that clock to the island each year. Just a short walk away from many resorts are some of the most beautiful villages to be found in the whole of Europe. Steve has visited each of the villages and the photographs, more than 100 of them, are his own. Village covered are the 18 central villages of, Agioi Deka, Agios Ioannnis, Ano Korakiana, Doukades, Gastouri, Giannades, Kanakades, Kato Korakiana, Kinopiastes, Kompitsi, Lakones, Liapades, Marmaro, Pelekas, Pendati, Sinarades, Varypatades and Vatos. The ebook is in full colour and it is available as a 60MB PDF download from Steve's site at www.corfuvillages.eu for £2.99 or there is a text only version available on Kindle, from Amazon, at £1.99. Steve has been visiting Corfu for more than 25 years. He has a small apartment on the edge of Pelekas which he shares with his wife Ann and two children Eva and Bobby. They consider Corfu to be their second home and visit as often as they can. the e-book was prompted by Steve's passion for the Island and all profits from sales do to Corfu charities and villages. Steve flies out and the end of April to research the villages in north Corfu and you can follow his progress on his daily blog on Corfu Forum and the Corfu Grapevine on Facebook.

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