What better way to see Corfu, Greece than from the water? With land temps rising to near 100ºF and humidity to match, a day cruising the Ionian Sea on a the 12 metre yacht, Nautilus, is the way to go. Add in an abundance of traditional Greek food, generous Greek hospitality and an attempt (on my part) at Greek dancing, and one has a day that will not soon be forgotten.
The second stop on our July 2012 Seabourn Venice and Adriatic Gems Cruise, had us pulling into the Kerkyra port in Corfu at 11 AM. Iakis and Alex, of Nautilus Daily Cruises, met us meters from port customs, ready to take us on our Greek adventure.
Heading back into the Ionian Sea, Iakis began our day with a leisurely tour of the local coastline while his godson, 16 year-old Alex, pointed out landmarks and points of interest along the way. Soon stopping in a little cove, the waters turned a brilliant shade of turquoise which contrasted beautifully with the deep blue of the deeper sea. Alex quickly jumped into the water while pulling the rope, and within moments Nautilus was moored and Iakis was pouring his guests a traditional Greek Ouzo to toast the beginning of our day.
Heating up on the sundeck, our group of two families could no longer resist the inviting waters, and we soon found ourselves swimming with local fish through nearby caves. Paddling about for nearly half of an hour, time flew as we explored the small beaches and enjoyed the clear, refreshing waters.
Back onboard, Iakis provided refreshments and we were soon underway cruising along more of the beautiful coastline. Stopping in various coves, Iakis and Alex gave us a running commentary of the local happenings along with descriptions and history of the buildings we passed by. Relaxation settled in, and the 8 of us sighed with pleasure and contentment as the light winds kept us cool.
The fire quickly lit and in no time our ultimate host had plates of Saganaki ready for us to try. A dish I've never tasted, I can honestly say this cheesy appetizer remains a highpoint of my vacation.
Greek Kefalotiri (cheese) is basted with milk (and eggs, so I've been told, if one wishes to make it even more tempting!), then dredged in flour with a little black pepper. The cheese is then fried in a very hot olive oil and served quickly thereafter with fresh bread. Topped with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, Saganaki is a little slice of Greek heaven.
Next up, another cheese appetizer had pans of onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil topped with Feta set on the grill to simmer. Aromas of the grilling veggies and garlic had stomachs rumbling and mouths watering in anticipation. Again with the bread, this cheese dish had us gushing and reaching for more.
This was the point that Iakis set the squid onto the grill. Now I didn't admit it to him, but I've never really liked squid. The aroma of this squid however, had me sorely tempted to try. Stuffed with more cheese, garlic and whatever else Iakis had in there, this squid was beyond amazing. As one of the girls from the other family took her first taste, a broad smile spread across her face and 6 other forks eagerly reached for pieces of their own. I'll shamelessly admit here that I think I ate almost an entire one all by myslef...
And the food didn't stop there. Admittedly we did order extra as we had our new Scottish friends with us, but the shrimp, chicken, fish, grilled peppers, Greek salad and a delightful, creamy Tzatziki in addition to our first courses had the eight of us soon holding our bellies and proclaiming we simply couldn't eat any more. Iakis is indeed the ultimate chef.
Oh! And did I mention the wine? Turns out Iakis is not only a fabulous chef, but he is also a talented wine maker. Bringing a sweet white in addition to a refreshing red, the adults of the group sipped homemade Greek wine with our phenomenal Greek delicacies while the kids and Iakis chose from an array of sodas, juice and water.
Ultimately satiated and slightly sleepy from the food and wine, our group enjoyed a nice, leisurely lounge on the deck of the Nautilus, but it wasn't long before the cool, inviting waters had us back in for a quick swim. Alex joined us and Iakis tossed a few inflatable rings into the water for us to float on. What a way to spend an afternoon!
Back onboard the Nautilus, Iakis asked if we would like to head back to our ship or find another swimming area? The resounding answer was another swimming area!
Cruising us back up the coast he pulled into another beautiful cove as the kids quickly spied some rocky cliffs to jump from. Scrambling up the cliffs, the kids and dads took turn after turn jumping off of what seemed to be 20 stories from the top, but was maybe (not quite...) 20 feet in reality. Alex and Liv did a tandem jump and she screamed with laugher all the way down.
Slightly sunburned, ultimately satiated, and completely relaxed, our group finally made its way back to the Corfu port. Over the next few days our families would meet for dinner while enjoying the rest of our Seabourn Cruise, and more often than not, our conversation returned to Iakis, Alex, our day on the Nautilus and the fabulous Saganaki in addition to the other wonderful food.
Thank you, Iakis for a fabulous day! Liv has already requested that our next vacation please include another day in Corfu.
With that I leave you with a taste of Greek entertainment...
Scotland, Greece & the USA come together - Living Life in Corfu!