Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Monday, 6 July 2015

There are nine million bicycles in Beijing …

… and 220 private taxis in Corfu! From April till October their main activity is chauffeuring around the 1,500,000 tourists that visit the island every summer. These tourists come from all over the world. They arrive on huge and luxurious cruise ships that dock in Corfu port for 4 or 5 hours. Most of them are Americans, Australians, Canadians … who spend part of their European tour cruising the Mediterranean Sea. The others are Europeans, holidaying in one of the many hotels.

Hotel at 7.30 a.m. on May 29th.
The pool boys are cleaning.

I guess the island must look rather deserted in winter when all the tourists have gone, and the 110,000 local inhabitants return to their domestic activities, after working 6 months in the tourist trade. The winter months are spent doing up the hotels, harvesting the olives that grow on the 4,500,000 olive trees on Corfu, turning these olives into delicious olive oil, harvesting the grapes and making wine, looking after the goats that produce the milk for the yummy feta cheese, etc.

On the road.

I learnt these facts and figures from Dimitris, the taxi driver who took my new friends and me on a glorious 6-hour private tour of his beloved island in his shiny and spotlessly clean Mercedes.

Dimitris helping my friends getting in his Mercedes.

When I was planning my trip in March, I had looked up the excursions suggested by my travel agent. There were four tours: the north, the south, the centre and Kerykra town. Each tour cost about 40 to 50 euro, meals not included. Except for the Kerkyra tour, they took all day, with pick-up at the hotel between 8 and 8.30 a.m. and drop-off between 7 and 8 p.m. My SIL had advised against taking one as they are long, exhausting and to some point even tedious because of the long waits often caused by people travelling on the buses not respecting the timing imposed by the accompanying guide. Moreover, she thought that I would want to spend my vacation sunning by the hotel pool or lolling on the beach. Little did she know that I prefer meeting local people and learning about their everyday life.

April, May and June are the best months to visit Corfu.
After that all the flowers are gone.

A thorough internet search resulted in a list of several private taxi companies proposing tailor-made excursions ranging from 3 to 6 hours tours. I ran three of them through Tripadvisor. Although Dimitris’ company came in second, I decided to consult his website. His personal welcome page in the tab ‘About us’ convinced me that he was the guy I wanted (figure of speech, of course). I sent him an email explaining when I would be in Corfu and what I wanted to see. Hardly an hour later I received an email from Dimitris listing the different tours and options. The next day I booked a 6 hour tour through his website and promptly received a confirmation … The following days and weeks, I looked up the different locations on the internet. The tour was fabulous!!! I could hardly wait to discover all these breath-taking places.

View from the front seat.

All through April and May I dreamt about the tour and what it would be like… On Friday, May 29th at 9 a.m. I finally found myself waiting in the hotel lobby for my taxi to arrive. I could hardly believe I was at last going to visit all the wonderful places I had seen on the internet!


Craig said...

I think that your private tour is absolutely the way to go and well worth the money!

chm said...

Were have all the flowers gone...? Fortunately you were there when they were at their peak and could enjoy their lusciousness in addition to the sights. I can't wait to know more about your tour of the island and what you've seen.

The Beaver said...

Lovely Bougainvillea :-)
On the island, when the flowers come out , children know that school holidays are coming for the Christmas holidays.

ladybird said...

Craig, You're right. It was more expensive than the bus tours, but worth every Euro. And I'm sure the Greeks can do with every extra Euro these days. I feel so sorry for them, especially now that I have friends there ...

Chm, As from July everything turns green (it rains at least once a week, even in summer) and all the other olours disappear. I did pick the righ time of year to visit. And I'll do the same thing next year, providing Greece is still a safe country to visit.

TB, They are all over the place in the most amazing colours. We don't get to see them at Christmas, though, not where I live ;)

Bob said...

sounds like you picked the right guy for your tour. it must have been quite an adventure. Photos look great!!!! I bet it has been hard getting back to work!!. Look forward to the remain chapters.