Europe Day 13 ✈️🩵 29 June 2024 –  Corfu, Greece (2024)

Around day 9 or 10 I had the sudden realization that our trip was more than half way done. And today I’m feeling, oh…no… just two more days on Corfu. On Monday we fly back to Venice and stay for one night before we make our journey home. The feelings begin, did we do everything we wanted to do? Did we see everything we wanted to see? Did we pick up the souvenirs that will remind us of the trip?

For today (Saturday), our goal is to spend the day at the beach, relax at the villa, then have dinner and gelato in Corfu old town. The beach recommended to us is called Kontogialos. It’s just north of where we’re staying, a 15 minute drive. A friend from my study abroad in Greece said this is one of her favorites (thank you Alexa❤️). And tomorrow, we plan to go back to the hidden cove beach with the seaside taverna.

Before leaving Corfu, I hoped to see the sunrise over the vineyard near the villa, and today I did. Although I didn’t sleep well after Grant’s fall, it worked out just right that I was awakearound 6am. I stepped outside before the sun crested over the distant mountain, and then I saw it brighten the sky, creating a pink hue around the shadows of the olive trees.

I slip back into bed with Lena and fall asleep for another hour. Still not sleeping soundly, I check on Jeremy and Grant who are both awake. Grant is doing better, despite the goose egg on his forehead and the widening bruise on his arm. I go outside to journal and Jeremy brings me a macchiato.

At 8:48am, the church bells ring, different tones like a song. As the wind shifts it becomes louder and more quiet.At 9:00ammore bells, all the same tone. We all start the morning slowly, having light breakfast and a second macchiato. Grant plays solitare and we pack for the beach.

We are ready to leave just after11:15which will help us get a nice spot at the beach. The roads are tight, but you already know that. Lena and I roll up our windows so the plants along the roadside don’t reach in and get us. We park at Spyros, where we pay €5. If we spend more than €30 at the restaurant and sun beds, we can get the five euro back. Certainly no problem, since we plan to have lunch. The parking lot is very open and we find sun beds right away. The first row of sunbeds at this beach don’t have any umbrellas, so we choose the second row. The sand is already lava hot, so we pick sun beds next to the boardwalk that gets you half way to the water. Jeremy and I in front, the kids right behind us with their own chairs. We pay €20 for the day and have a perfect view of the sea.

Beachgoers continue to arrive; families, couples, younger generations, older generations. My ears, like echolocation, tune in on a family with midwest voices. Shortly after, another American group in front of us. They all have matching cruise towels, so this must be part of an excursion. I look at Jeremy and pretend to turn off my ear. I have to fight my problem of listening in on their conversations and over-observing; tuning out, and then tuning into my other senses. We try to travel in stealth mode. I remind the kids with my fingers to use a small voice.

The kids are not yet ready to swim, so they continue to work on their baseball plan. Now it sounds like it has turned in into a baseball play, as in theater. Lena talks about how each person should wear their hair, and how to find a date everyone can be there. The kids notice some people have slushies or smoothies. They ask to

look around and find out where the drinks came from. It’s in a frozen machine and could they pleeeeeease get one!? It looks so refreshing, of course. They want to do this on their own and ask for some euros. We let them, and are so impressed with their confidence. I mention it to Jeremy and he says, well they’ve practiced at Culver’s (ordering their free scoops). It’s true, having the practice of little things in comfortable places, builds the confidence for situations in new places. They return, proudly, with the change and sit down to sip them. Lena chose lemon flavor which is tart and fresh, Grant chose strawberry which tastes like a fresh strawberry popsicle.

Jeremy and I decide to order freddo (iced) cappuccino, and it’s delivered by the beach attendant. By1 PMwe are all getting hungry for lunch and go up to the beach restaurant to order some food. It is very busy and they are very short staffed, so it takes a while but we are in no hurry. We order our Greek standby of Greek salad, calamari, saganaki. The kids have co*kes and Jeremy and I have white wine. This is definitely not our best meal of the trip, but it will do for a light lunch.

The rest of our beach time we spend between swimming, sunning, resting under the umbrella. Jeremy and I take turns swimming with the kids. Lena and Grant spend a long time, jumping waves and riding them in to shore. Lena practices handstands in the waves, and asks me to count how long she can stay up. Dozens of handstands, with the longest count to 14. Grant digs and digs and digs on the beach, a big hole for them to sit in, and then wants to be buried up to his neck. At first Lena declines, but then she wants be buried too. They roll in the sand like sugar cookies and then dive into the water to rinse off.

This beach wins the award for the clearest water. Even going out as deep as our shoulders, you can see straight down to the sandy bottom. Most of the beaches in Corfu are formed in some kind of crescent and are protected by a cove. One end of this beach has a white resort climbing up the hillside, and the other end, large black rocks and cliffs where people are snorkeling and jumping in. Toward the direction of the resort (south) we can see one of the corners of the cove that we swam the other day, the secret beach with the great taverna.

By6pmwe are totally fulfilled with beach for the day and pack up to head home. I collect a sand sample to bring with me, emptying our fruit container and using that. I have sand samples from around the world, and am excited to add this golden brown sand from Kontogialos.

At the villa, everyone showers off from the sandy, hot day and I make a snack to tide us over until dinner. We all relax, the kids in their room, Jeremy and I outside. We sip white Greek wine, sitting in the shade of the olive tree with the beautiful view of the Ionian.

Everyone dresses in their nice clothes for dinner in Corfu Old Town. I realize I have worn only three pieces of jewelry this trip, and love them all; small gold hoops for the beach, a gold necklace with a teardrop and thicker gold hoops for “dressing up.” All from Amazon, and all have worn so well.

At 8:30pm, we snap another family picture outside with the olive trees and sea in the background. First try, we get it. It’s about a 40 minute drive with theSaturday nighttraffic but the views as we approach the city are so pretty. The sun goes down and lights begin to illuminate the streets, the fortress rising above the sea and protecting the town. Our biggest worry for having dinner in town was the parking, I attract a parking spot. Just outside of town along the street, someone pulls out and we pull in, parking along the high stone wall before walking into the city. The city is buzzing, alive with people after sunset on aSaturday night.

We make our way to the restaurant that Jeremy has found with some Italian options like wood fired pizzas and pastas. We walk through the open park square and then down a narrow, but charming, alleyway. The alley opens into a small square, where restaurants have their awnings and tables, as extensions from their restaurants. The restaurant where we’d like to dine, two couples stop in and then leave, speaking another language. I assume there are no tables, but I ask the host anyway. Sorry, no tables tonight. They must be booked with reservations. We retrace our steps, going back to a restaurant that had a nice sign with a fish on it, assumingly a seafood restaurant. We notice only tables for two right outside the restaurant, but then the host points to the square where they have more seating. She seats us there, and we enjoy a meal in a very buzzing and hip area of Corfu town.

As we wait for our dinner, we go around the table, talking about our high-low-highs from the three countries we have been to. From Italy, everyone loved the gelato, the Italian charm and the night we had dinner near the band. In Croatia, the highlights were aqua park, our amazing meal on the last night, and getting balloons from the balloon man. Here in Corfu, the highlights have been swimming and snorkeling, the pool at the villa, and the villa itself, and the boat day. Lena wishes we would have spread our trip out more equally between the countries, staying longer in Italy and Croatia and shorter and Corfu. We have reached our vacation moment where the kids share their desire to go home. Lena says she’s missing beach days with our neighbors, and they both miss Maple. The sign of a very fulfilling vacation, feeling ready to go home.

For dinner, we order a shrimp pasta, mussels, french fries, marinated anchovies, and house-made bread. All of us share, except Lena who just enjoys the fries. And being here, in the main town, they have ketchup. Both kids are getting very sleepy and say they want to skip gelato tonight and just go home and go to bed. Jeremy and I are completely shocked, but both of us want gelato. There’s a gelato shop a one minute walk from this restaurant so we convince them to walk there before we go home. Even after stepping into the gelato shop with all the flavors and choices, still the kids don’t want any. I choose the bounty flavor, vanilla gelato with coconut and chocolate, in a cup. And Jeremy chooses whiskey cream on a cone. We check with the kids, are you sure you don’t want anything? They don’t. This open walking street is so busy with a lively, dressed up, younger crowd. It feels like a big city, buzzing with activity.

We take our gelato on the walk back to the car through the square, past the fortress. On the way home, the kids fall asleep and then snuggle right into bed when we reach the villa. I set Grant up on the very wide couch for his sleep, moving the back cushions to the floor, and find a fluffy blanket in one of the closets for him.

Both kids are tucked in and drift off to sleep before our last full day in Corfu, our own beds beginning to lure us home.

Europe Day 13 ✈️🩵 29 June 2024 –  Corfu, Greece (2024)
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