Day 3 – Saturday, April 11, 2015
After a very good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast at Corfu Palma Boutique Hotel, we set off to explore the town of Corfu. We started our tour at Spianada – the large open space lying between the town centre and the Old Fortress. The original reason this place was left open was that the gunners from the fortress would have an open range of fire against any invader. At the same time, it was also useful for military parades. The old buildings on the west side of Spianada are the town's pride and joy. They consist of the vaulted gallery with cafés and restaurants known as "Liston." The cafés and restaurants there are the centre of social life in Corfu and the hustle and bustle of this amazingly charming town.
The northern side of Spianada is dominated by the Palace of Saints George and Michael. This superb neoclassical building was made with porous stone brought from Malta and was designed by Colonel George Whitmore in 1819 as the dwelling of the High Commissioner. The statue of Sir Frederic Adams, who helped secure Corfu's water supply, stands before the palace. This building is also where the summit of the European Union was held in 1994.
The palace of Saints George and Michael
The Old Fortress, also called "Fortezza", was built at the easternmost point of Corfu town, practically opposite "Liston". The fortifications, built by the Venetians, are a marvel of military architecture. It is worth paying the garrison a visit in order to observe the architecture as well as enjoy the view.
The old fortress
Having enjoyed the view to the Harbour, we hurried back to Spianada and the surrounding streets in order not to miss the culminating point of the First Resurrection. Custom has it that the people living in the nearby buildings throw off their balconies clay jugs filled with water while church bells ring joyfully to announce Christ's Resurrection. This custom is closely related to the remembrance of Virgin Mary and Maria Magdalene, who were the first to see the open tomb of the resurrected Jesus.
At midnight, we attended the Resurrection Mass. The Metropolitan of Corfu and priests from all churches in Corfu town ascend the platform erected at Spianada. At the stroke of midnight, announcing Easter Day, "Christos Anesti" ( Christ is Risen) is sung by the choir of the priests while the people holding their candles sing along. And the fireworks set off! Spianada is then transformed into a stage of dancing and high spirits as the resurrection ceremony gets into full swing.
We took a taxi back to our hotel where we enjoyed a huge, festive dinner!!!! Alkis had two large servings of "mageiritsa" – our traditional Easter soup. As I hardly ever eat soup, I enjoyed a Greek salad from the buffet AND two large pieces of "pastitsio." Pastitsio is a creamy, cheesy baked pasta dish that is sometimes called the Greek lasagne; however, there are differences. While both are baked pasta dishes, pastitsio is traditionally made with large tubular pasta, minced meat and tomato sauce, and topped with a thick béchamel sauce. Of course, we clinked our Easter eggs, and I won! Despite Alkis' efforts, my egg remained uncracked! At about 2:00 am we had dessert and some more wine and at about 4:00 am we went to sleep.
To be continued