Ionian Sea Odyssey Adventure 1
PART 1 of 3 - Corfu Old Town; A beautiful place to start our journey
Friends & Dreamers today I invite you to join me as I sail the Islands of the gorgeous North Ionian Sea! We’ll discover the pristine water of an ever-changing kaleidoscope of aquamarine, brilliant azure, Ionian blues & deep turquoise greens; the water is dotted with sparkling jewels of diamond, topaz & sapphire. There is so much to explore island hopping in this stunning archipelago, with 7 main islands - Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Meganisi, Ithaca, Kefalonia & Zakynthos.
The Ionian Sea is known as a “yachting paradise” with its picturesque islands, dreamy fishing hamlets, coastal villages, calm waters & sheltered bays. The pretty colour palette of the houses & buildings painted with traditional colours of ochre yellow, loulaki blue, terracotta & burnt oxide make these islands the most unforgettable idyllic location to sail & visit.
All through these waters you can find stunning places to sail, snorkel, swim & sunbath at pristine beaches, glittering bays & intriguing caves. This is an ancient land & sea, history is reflected in what you will discover - small towns & coastal villages, ancient monasteries & churches, imposing castles & fortresses, awe-inspiring cliffs & rock formations.
Ancient Greek legend has it that the nymph Io travelled (swam or flew) across the sea. Io was the daughter of the King of Argos. Greek mythology says Zeus, the god of the sky fell in love with Io & to protect her from the wrath of Hera, his wife, he changed Io into a white cow! But I like to think Io was later changed into a beautiful yellow butterfly so she could forever be flying in the sky over the Ionian Sea. I like to imagine she is the elusive yellow butterfly that seems to follow you on your adventures.
Now back to the prelude of our journey. The first night on the yacht is always exciting, we arrived to Gouvia Marina on a starry balmy night. My travelling companions & I made our way to our Moorings catamaran, it’s a large luxury yacht & our home for the next seven days - it has large spacious living areas, with compact & cosy cabins, but has every creature comfort you need for a marine adventure.
After the long flight, it was lovely to cocoon myself in the comfortable & impeccable cabin.
In the morning I woke & looked out the window to see the vista of all the other yachts peacefully moored on the glassy water, the early morning light made it look like we slept on a sea of mother of pearl. Looking back to the land behind the marina you can see the poplar tree lined horizon, typical of the beautiful Mediterranean. Taking an early morning stroll, you can feel the peace & tranquillity of the marina with only a few early risers & lots of cats adding to the quintessential Greek charm! Gouvia Marina was a former fishing village. It is the main harbour in Corfu & is Greece’s largest marina. It’s just a short taxi or local bus to Corfu Old Town or the airport.
We took a local bus to Corfu Old Town, enjoying a stroll on a balmy afternoon & evening of the pedestrian boulevards & streets of this beautiful UNESCO-listed town - with its elegant terra cotta rooftops & wrought-iron balconies.
Historically this city was established by the Venetian traders in 1546, it was built on the site of an older castle. The city feels like a place that’s been a favourite travel destination for hundreds of years, maybe even thousands! How many stories could the walls of this city tell? Today this is a popular town for travellers, adventurers & locals too. There are elegant leafy boulevards (a contribution by the French rule), quaint streets, & stunning squares. We found souvenir & chic stores; quirky & high-end fashion boutiques; traditional tavernas with delicious authentic Greek food or international cuisine.
We had lots of fun shopping for the provisions in town. It’s important to get a supply of dry goods for the journey & a little supply of fresh produce. In the supermarkets you will find a good selection of products. There’s fabulous cheese, fruit, vegetables & produce - plus a good selection of wines & spirits to make a small bar onboard. Afternoon Gin & Tonics are essential to make all sunsets perfect & indulge in a glass of wine with lunch or dinner to make every meal memorable.
Most of the islands & villages on the mainland have a good selection of grocery stores, shops, bakeries, tavernas, bars & cafes. So, we know we always will be able to find top up provisions, enjoy a meal or find an ideal place to sit, relax & find some low-key nightlife. Every morning beautiful aromas of fresh bread & pastries ooze from the bakeries.
There is something so special about going on an early morning walk, buying fresh bread, then finding a tranquil place on the water’s edge to enjoy a cheeky coffee & pastry. But don’t forget to take back the lovely supply of fresh bread for your travelling crew. The staff at the base were so friendly & they helped set everything up for our smooth departure. They introduced us to our skipper. Finally, we are ready to start our marine adventure. We had the yacht fully stocked with provisions, had our water toys of a kayak, stand-up-paddleboard & snorkel gear plus our music playlist! In the sunshine of a beautiful morning, we set sail past the two imposing forts of Corfu Old Town cape - past all the yachts moored up at Manandraki Harbour.
Above: Me having a fabulous time on the boat!
The fort’s large bridge & two sturdy fortresses were a formidable sight as we exited the harbour – it was just the day before we were standing from that lookout, admiring the sparkling turquoise waters that we are now sailing on.
The water is a stunning shade of sapphire blue, it’s very peaceful & calm, with the exception of some surprise rolling waves caused by ferries coming from Italy! We have been sailing for two blissful hours heading towards the islands of Antipaxos & Paxos, we saw fish jumping out of the glimmering water & even a yellow butterfly, looking like a rare gem against the sapphire sea, maybe a serendipitous reminder of the nymph Io joining us on our adventure!