The bus left at 8:30 for the 90 minute journey to Kassiopi on the northeast coast. It was raining so hard we could hardly see anything or take any photos as the bus hugged the coast road. What the shame as I am sure in better weather that drive would have been spectacular and a huge part of the lure going to the north coast is the fabulous scenic drive. Oh well – it can’t always be sunshine and roses when traveling and we have certainly had our share of sublime weather this trip.
Kassiopi is set around a harbor that lies between two wooded headlands. It has been a resort of sorts since Roman imperial times – Tiberius had a villa here and Nero paid a musical visit with his lyre in 66 AD. It and the other towns on the north coast are tremendously popular with British tourists, so much so, that the area is known as ‘Kensington on Sea.’
After getting a much needed hot breakfast and discussing the US presidential race with the waiter, we donned our long ponchos again and trooped out to explore the town.
There was a lovely little church that we enjoyed and not only because it was dry inside either! The medieval Church of the Panayia Kassopitra was built during the 4th century on the site of the local ancient Zeus temple. The latest church dates from after the 1537 Ottoman sack of Corfu, with more Venetian rebuilding around 1590.
Just like the monastery we had visited in Paleokastriska yesterday, this church was also built on two levels: the cemetery was on the upper level and the church entrance was on the lower level.
A plaque outside the lovely church said the 'temple, dedicated to the holy and glorious Virgin Mary, was destroyed from the barbaric Turkish pirates.' Pretty strong language for a plaque at a church!
Dodging as many of the puddles as we could, we walked by the harbor and felt badly for the many souvenir shops’ shopkeepers as we were the only people crazy enough to be out in that foul weather.
Our river shoes lived up to their name today as we sloshed through puddles all morning long!
I was intrigued by the vast castle walls so opted to trek around a good chunk of the perimeter walls. It sounded like a good idea at the time but it didn’t turn out so auspiciously in the end.
Another view of Kassioppi:
The lens of my so-called new camera, the one I had bought in Ljubljana near the beginning of the trip, got wet which I didn’t realize so most of the castle photos had spots on them according to the viewfinder. I didn't realize til later that the pictures themselves weren't affected but the viewfinder, it was soon apparent, was useless because the colors were distorted.
I knew this part of Corfu was a haven for the Brits but I was still surprised at the number of restaurants which offered traditional English breakfasts and full English dinners. They may as well never have left their island to venture to the island of Corfu!
Despite, or in spite of the rain, Kassiopi was a charming little fishing village and picture postcard pretty. Its narrow roads were lined with lovely diminutive 'hole in the wall' shops, including souvenirs, bakeries, local wares, knickknacks and restaurants galore. In nicer weather and if we had more time, we probably would have explored some of the small beaches.
Of course the weather began to clear up as we returned to the bus stop, ready for the bus to the town of Sidari on Corfu’s northeastern coast! We couldn’t understand why there was such a large bus for the 30 minute ride to Sidari as there was only one other passenger on the bus when we got on it in Kassiopi. Soon enough, the need for the large bus became clear as the north shore was just packed with resorts and hotels and English tourists quickly filled up the bus for the short jaunt to Sidari.
We arrived in Sidari at 1 and found the footpath along the cliff to the sea. Just west of this busy resort, coastal sandstone cliffs have been eroded over the eons by wind and water into otherworldly shapes. Our goal was to see the famous Canal D’Amour.