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!

 

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Avliotes Carnival 2014

This year’s Avliotes Carnival on the north-west side of Corfu in Greece, despite its usual problems of weather and last minute arrangements, went without a hitch.  It was blessed with a mild warm day and a huge turnout even though it was raining in the morning!

This year’s theme, if there was a theme to the carnival,  would be of ‘politicians that don’t keep their promises’!  This of course is nothing new nor is it something which happens only in Greece but it exist everywhere!

This years Karnabalos (Carnival King) is of a politician asking to be re-elected! The carnival participants were satirizing daily life through the various floats in the parade:  for example when will roads be completed ,  filling in the endless pot holes,  trusting political parties since they got us into this crisis,  the graft and corruption which have made our politicians wealthy!

Lampooning these conditions is an outlet for our anger and impotence to change things.  A way to let off some steam, sadly our politicians are immune to our cries of dissatisfaction!

Merry Christmas 2013

Wishing all our friends all over the world
a very Happy and Merry Christmas!

from all your friends at the Nafsika Hotel
in Agios Stefanos Beach, Avliotes,
in Corfu, Greece.

My Small Slim English Wedding

This summer we did something that we had not done before, ever…..

Paul and Stevie's arrival at the Nafsika.

Paul and Stevie’s arrival at the Nafsika.

we catered for a small English wedding!  Here at the Hotel Nafsika we have catered for weddings before but they were Big, Fat and Greek!  So when Paul and Stevie first mentioned that they wanted to have their wedding at the Hotel Nafsika, I was really honoured that they would entrusted me and all at the Nafsika with this task.  I have known Paul and his family for the longest of time.  Paul was a youngster when he and his parents, Craig and Sandra first started coming here in the 1980’s along with his other siblings.  When he was older he would visit Corfu by himself and later with Stevie, the love of his life, and wherever he stayed on the island he would always come to say Hello! to us here in Agios Stefanos Beach where ever he might be staying on the island.  This shows you the type of person he is and his love for the Hotel Nafsika and the village!

Craig, Sandra and family by the pool during the cocktail hour!

Craig, Sandra and family by the pool during the cocktail hour!

Once they have secured the venue, Paul and Stevie needed help with the other wedding arrangements, so I sent them the San Stefanos Travel, as they were the wedding experts in the village.  They have done many weddings of this type and I knew that they would arrange everything without hitch!

Sealed with a loving kiss at the end of the ceremony!

Sealed with a loving kiss at the end of the ceremony!

As I said, we have catered for many Greek weddings from our very early years of our existence.  When the hotel was first built-in the late 1970’s my father purposely made the dining room large so that we could cater for weddings.  Only when the guest list began to be 300 and 400 plus people large did we decide to stop doing them.  Other reasons are that most weddings take place in the winter as in the summer it interferes with the running of the restaurant in the hotel and in the winter Agios Stefanos Beach is too cold and unreliable with the weather to guarantee a trouble-free wedding.

Wedding table arrangement!

This traditional centerpiece is simple but classic.

The weather of course can make or break a wedding, not only here in Corfu but anywhere in the world which is why all of the world most take place in June, a nice safe month!  Here we can have them all summer long!  My biggest fear though was having a Maestro, a fierce northerly wind blowing on the day of the wedding.  Not that this wind would have spoilt the wedding but it would not have been ideal.  But the actual wedding day was blessed and perfect in every respect!

The groom giving a speech at the beginning of the festivities!

Paul, the groom giving a speech at the beginning of the festivities!

Having been to an endless amounts of weddings in America I knew how to arrange this one along similar lines. Sandra, Paul’s mother and I were emailing each other all winter long deciding how to organize the reception.  We both agreed on having a cocktail hour beforehand at the Hotel’s pool bar, BarOne, only that we would serve Prosecco with cherries as they were in season instead of cocktails.  Sandra thinking small ordered 10 bottles for their humble group of 19!

The meal would consist of a medley of Greek Mezzes (starters) and a choice of 3 main courses: a fish dish, a chicken dish & a meat dish.  Being our first English wedding and wanting to please my long time friends, I might have gone a bit over board with the starters as I kicked off the wedding banquet with: bruschetta, taramasalata, tzatziki, hummus, ktipiti, meatballs and a few others dishes.  There were so many starters that I had to cancel a few that I have not mentioned as the wedding party were clearly defeated by my onslaught of Greek appetizers.

The main course meals consisted of Fennel Fillet of Sole, Rosemary Chicken, and as Craig and Sandra wished, Spit-Roast Leg of Lamb!

All this was followed by the wedding cake and fruit and of course, Greek dancing!  Sandra wanted to surprise the newlyweds with a live band and even though Paul and Stevie found this out as someone ‘let the cat was out of the bag’ but they took it in true fashion by asking me to teach them a few Greek dances.  The music all evening was all Greek, in fact, very traditional folk music at that, but went like a charm with everyone dancing to it regardless of nationality.  Sandra and I both agreed that the hotel guests should be considered as honoured guests and not be excluded from the festivities so what started out as a small English wedding, it turned out into a Big English Wedding!

During the evening Sandra had given all the guests a Thai Sky/Fire Lantern to let loose into the night sky.  It was very beautiful as it was as quite a few of the lanterns reached the heavens.  Personally, I prefer our old fashioned declaration of setting the wedding in progress by letting off fireworks or even the more traditional Corfiot custom of exploding dynamite!  All serve the same purpose, to announce to the world the joining of 2 people into a sacred bondage.  Needless to say, they did not burn half of Corfu doing it, though it did cross my mind!

What made this wedding so fabulous is that everyone participated in the festivities regardless of any cultural difference, you must remember the band was playing Greek folk music so when I asked them if they knew any modern English songs they told me that they knew how to play ‘O Sole Mio’ so they played it…  and guess what?  Everyone danced to it!

I would like to thank Paul, Stevie, Sandra, and Craig along with the rest of the family guests and honoured guests who all contributed to a magical summer’s evening, enjoyed by everyone!

The Legend of Nafsika

The following short synopsis is from Homer‘s epic poem ‘The Odyssey‘.

“On the island of Corfu, King Odysseus was shipwrecked. He lost his ship and crew, but he survived, and was washed up on this very beach. He came round covered in sea-salt and not much else, to hear the cries of the beautiful Princess Nafsika’s maids playing ‘catch’.

Odysseus tore down the bough of a tree, no mere twig, to cover his manhood, and advanced on the girls ‘with eyes blazing like a mountain lion’. Not surprisingly, they all fled except for Nafsika who gave him a tunic, a cloak, food and drink and a bath in the river – though not necessarily in that order.

Nafsika took Odysseus to her father’s palace where he stayed for many days. History does not relate what took place between the two. Suffice to say that Odysseus, who was married with two children back home, had lost his memory and forgotten all about them”.

All this could have been avoided had the Hotel Nafsika in Agios Stefanos had been built three thousand years ago!