Once upon a rainy day at the Hotel Nafsika.

Corfu is one of the prettiest islands in Greece and one reason for this is that it rains much more on this island than any other island in Greece. Labeled ‘the Emerald Isle’ for its striking sea of greenery and olive groves.

Many people are surprised at how much it rains on the island, some say as much rain as London gets but this only explains its lush greenery and breathtaking beauty. Flowering bushes, shrubs, olive and cypress trees cloak most of its rolling landscape, and in spring the island is bursting with beautiful wild flowers.

Luckily for the people of Corfu, it has a long dry summer which makes it an ideal destination for holiday makers as it mainly rains in the winter months. Although not tropical in character, it is not unusual for it to rain in the morning and the sun to come out in the afternoon. As this video above illustrates!



http://mikropragmatakia.blogspot.com/ – Agios Stefanos, Corfu – 1970’s

My friend Anna has been coming to Agios Stefanos since 1970! Back then, there was really nothing but a 7 room hotel, the Saint Stefanos Hotel, the Waves taverna and one or 2 villas. She has kindly sent me some photos that she had of that time period and promised to send me some more. She has her own blog and has a hobby of making doll houses which has evolved into making miniatures that she calls “Little Things” or Mikropragmatakia in Greek. She has some on display at Perdita’s Glass Art shop and they could be ideal souvenir presents – small and easy to put in the suitcase. She calls them “Beach-memories”.  Please, go and have a look!

Agios Stefanos Beach around 1972

A more recent picture so you can see the difference better

The old harbour with the north wind, The Mistral

Man taking his goats for a walk!

Greek Name Days

A lot of people come to Greece and are surprise that Greeks don’t really celebrate birthdays but they celebrate namedays. You say, what are name days? According to the Greek Orthodox tradition, nearly every day of the year is dedicated to a Christian saint or Martyr. When someone is named after one of those saints, that day becomes their “name day” and, traditionally, is celebrated. There are around 3800 Greek first (given) names. From these 3800 names: 2800 names (750 prime names και 2085 derivatives) have known nameday; 980 names with non established and thus unknown name day. Under the 980 names would be names like Socrates, Hercules which are not saints but still use in Greece. Are still with me? Or are you reaching for your mouse?

The Church of Agios Stefanos

Today, May 21st, Corfu celebrates their unification with modern Greece and was concluded in 1864 under the Treaty of London. Corfu was under British rule following the Napoleonic Wars but more people celebrate this day because of the names Konstantine and Eleni. Some of the derivatives of the names would be Kostas, Dinos, Elena, Lena and so on. If someone you know is having his or her name day, the appropriate thing to say to them is “CHRONIA POLLA”, meaning “MANY YEARS”. Many years to celebrate it or for them to live a long life.

Inside the Agios Stefanos Church

This is not so strange as you might think since if its your nameday you will celebrate it with the whole village but if its your birthday you will only celebrate with your family and friends at least the ones that know when you were born. You would have loads of people coming to your house to wish you Chronia Polla and you would be expected to wine and dine them! They don’t even have to call you first. They just turn up and you will receive them without any reservation. Although today’s nameday is a big one as there are many Kostas and Elenis in Greece the big day for Corfu is of course December 12th which is Saint Spiridon Day! Nearly every house in Corfu will have some Spiro to celebrate.

Agios Stefanos v San Stefanos

‘What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet’

So spoke a famous Englishman about a young couple in love divided by a name, but when it comes to the name of Agios Stefanos and its being inappropriate called San Stefanos most people seem not to even care or notice that it is divided.

The name of San Stefanos was given to us without any pomp and circumstance by Thomson Holidays. I can’t remember the exact date this occurred but I would say around the late 80’s as the agency first started to operate in Agios Stefanos in 1984. They changed it to San Stefanos for no other reason than to make the lives of their reps (nowadays they are called Holiday Advisors) easier. Since the island of Corfu in Greece has 3 areas called Agios Stefanos, one in the north-west, one in the north-east and one down in the south, it became very confusing for those dear souls to differentiate between the three so they would be sending tourists taxi and buses to these resorts but not to the right ones! I’m sure once you arrived at your destination and were told your actual resort is 50 kilometers on the other side of the island, you would not be so happy!

Agios Stefanos Beach

One might then think why would the Greeks name 3 villages with the same name? Where they trying to confuse everyone or could they just not think of any other names? Well, certainly as some people might know Greece has more saints than sense and in this case, there are 3 Agios Stefanos in Corfu or at least 3 that I know of! So there is Agios Stefanos in the north-west which is part of the village of Avliotes and Agios Stefanos in the north-east which is part of the village of Sinies and the third in the south which is part of another village (I don’t know which one it is as I have never been there). All 3 Agios Stefanos are sort of suburbs of these villages. The resort of Agios Stefanos, Avliotes of course got its name from the church in the old part of the village that bears the same name and more than likely was built to protect the fisherman that went out from the little harbour below. Saint Stephen’s (Agios Stefanos) name is derived from the Greek Stephanos meaning ‘crown’. Stephen is invested with a crown of martyrdom for Christianity and one of its first martyrs.

Old harbour with waves smashing

So why would the Greeks give these areas the name, I can still sense some of you thinking! Well, why are there so many High Streets in the UK? Does not every town and city have one? Why don’t the British get confused? Because is there not a High Street in Gillingham, Kent and Orpington High Street, Bromley and Fort William High Street, Scotland? I could go one but then I would name every town and city in the UK but I think you got my point! At the same token, if your name is John you would not want to be call Juan just because there a few others Johns around you.

So why did Thomson choose the name of San Stefanos above others? Well, I will bore you a bit with a diction lesson. The word Agios from the Greek word Άγιος, also transliterated as Ayios , Aghios, Hagios meaning ‘holy’ or in our case the English-language epithet ‘Saint’, which by the way comes from the Latin word of ‘Sanctus’, thus ‘San’. The word ‘San’ comes from the Italian/Spanish masculine word for saint, as in San Francisco, San Diego and San José. So basically, Thomson has renamed this village into a Spanish village! I would not have minded if they had renamed the village using an English word like ‘Saint’ as it would be the translation of the Greek word into English . Saint Stephen or Stefanos would be appropriate as it is a UK company and it would not be offensive to me, but renaming us into a Spanish village does offend me!

Thomson Holidays is the major travel agent in the village with more than 70% of the accommodation under its wing and through the years San Stefanos became used in the village more than the actual name, Agios Stefanos. There is a Greek travel shop with the name, a top UK site for Agios Stefanos, and even a car hire firm. People using forums still call it San Stefanos even though the forum calls it Agios (St) Stephanos on every page they read and write on!

In business, you use all the tools that are available to get the people through your doors. Some of these companies do actually use Agios Stefanos but in parenthesis and thus implying San Stefanos to be the real name. I don’t blame these people for using the name as most of the people that come to Agios Stefanos know it as San Stefanos; I have used it on my site as well, as not using it would restrict the traffic to my site, http://www.nafsikahotel.com. Nor do I blame Thomson for all they are were doing was making sure their customers get to the right Agios Stefanos and their reps not getting mixed up, bless their hearts. I just think that a better name could have been used to represent this village: Saint Stefanos, Agios Stefanos North-West, or even Agios Stefanos Beach (as the other Agios Stefanos has only a shingle beach and not a sandy beach).

Of course one of the ironies in naming the resort San Stefanos is that if any tourist lands on the island and wants to drive to the resort of San Stefanos, on all the roads they look at, the name will not appear nor will they find any road with the name of San Stefanos, as it is a total fabrication. Having any roads signs is a treat regardless of which name they have! Nor do I see the Greek government changing the name of this resort in the near future. The resort having 2 names can only confuse people plus I don’t see us becoming known around the globe with 2 names! Just imagine Coca-Cola being advertised with 2 different names, it would be the greatest advertising blunder in the world!

This article is not to put blame on anyone, far be it from me to point any fingers as I am using it also, but to inform some people who are not aware that the actual name of this resort is Agios Stefanos and why it became know as San Stefanos. If you are a true Agios Stefanos enthusiast, admirer, supporter would you not want to call it by its rightful name and show it some respect? San Stefanos might still smell as sweet regardless of the name it has but I would still prefer it to be called by its real name—Agios Stefanos!

(Go to our Your View Matters page and vote for what it should be called!)

Welcome to the Nafsika

It’s a new season and Speros and his team are ready to make your stay at the Nafsika in Agios (San) Stefanos, Corfu an enjoyable experience.

Well be letting you know the latest news about the 2011 season – the new members of the team and the new dishes we have concocted.