Our first stop in Greece was in Corfu, a Greek island in the Ionian Sea.  The ship docked at 8:00 am, so our tour was early again.  Our tour in Corfu included two stops: Achilleion Palace and Palaiokastritsa.  Achilleion Palace was built by the Empress of Austria, Elisabeth of Bavaria. After her death it was purchased by Kaiser Wilhelm II who used it as a summer residence.  Both of them used Achilles as the theme of the palace, thus he figures prominently in the statues, paintings, and design.  The palace itself was mostly unremarkable.  Though there was one element of the whole thing that I found intriguing.  Elisabeth was Catholic, but was living in Greece, which is Greek Orthodox. In order to continue to practice her religion she built a chapel in the palace and provided a room and funds for a priest to stay in the palace as well (in the room next to the chapel).  Yet, the palace is dedicated to a Greek mythological figure, Achilles, and is rooted in Greek mythology with paintings and sculptures depicting Greek gods and Greek myths.  It seems like she took Greek mythology very seriously.  The mixing of monotheism with Greek mythology seemed odd.

Anyway, two of the  remarkable statues of Achilles are located in the garden.  Here’s the first of Achilles triumphant:

Debi in front of Achilles Triumphant - the amazing statue in the garden of the Achilleion Palace overlooking the bay

It’s hard to really capture how stunning this statue is.  It’s obviously quite large (which is why I posted the photo with Debi in it).  But its immensity doesn’t really come across in the photo. Also, it’s location is really remarkable.  It’s overlooking this view:

view from Achilleion Palace (click for larger view)

It’s a stunning view of the bay.  So, the statue is on a promontory overlooking the bay and is really breath taking when you first see it.  Here are the three of us in front of the remarkable view:

Toren, Debi, and I at Achilleion Palace

Not far from the statue of Achilles triumphant is another statue of Achilles, depicting his death:

The Death of Achilles

The statue of Achilles Triumphant was commissioned by Kaiser Wilhelm.  The statue of the Death of Achilles was the favorite statue of Elisabeth and was originally where the statue of Achilles Triumphant stands.

Here’s Debi right behind the Death of Achilles statue by these two odd looking youths:

Debi at Achilleion Palace

The other really great piece of art is this painting of Achilles called “The Triumph of Achilles” which is just above the main stairway in the palace:

The Triumph of Achilles - depicting Achilles dragging Hector at the battle of Troy

It’s enormous, life-like, and extremely well done.  I’m not easily impressed by art, by these three pieces all impressed me.

Here’s one more photo from Achilleion Palace of Debi with her mom:

Debi and Rosemary at Achilleion Palace

From Achilleion Palace we drove about 40 minutes to Palaiokastritsa which is both a municipality and the name of a monastery.  Our tour was of the monastery.  We weren’t that impressed with the monastery itself, as it is highly commercialized.  As an example, here’s a photo of Debi, Toren, and I at the front gate getting a picture with two Greek women dressed in traditional Greek clothing:

Toren, Debi, and Ryan with some Greek women at the highly commercialized Palaiokastritsa monastery

We’re not sure why we bought this (I don’t recall the exact price, but I think it was something like 5 Euros).  But this was how most of the monastery was – lots of stuff for sale.  I’m not sure what the appeal of the monastery was supposed to be.  Not even the chapel was that amazing, as Steve indicated in this photo:

Steve illustrating what most of us thought of the chapel at the monastery

Despite the monastery not being particular amazing, the view from the monastery was really remarkable:

view from Palaiokastritsa monastery

And here’s Debi at the monastery:

Debi at the Palaiokastritsa monastery

Also of interest is the fact that Corfu is considered to be the mythical island of the Phaeacians, which figures prominently in Homer’s Odyssey.  It’s the home of Nausicaa, the princess who helps Odysseus when he is shipwrecked by Poseidon.  According to local legend, Odysseus’s ship was turned to stone and can be seen off the coast of Palaiokastritsa:

Odysseus's petrified ship is the rocky island you see in the center of this picture

I was far more interested in the connection of the island to Homer’s Odyssey than I was in the monastery, but the monastery does have good views of the surrounding coast.  However, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t visit the monastery but rather would take a boat out to the sea caves nearby if I were to visit Corfu again.  The sea caves also figure in the Odyssey and they can be visited today.  Also, the beaches, while they didn’t look like they had great sand, looked like they led to crystal clear water.  There is also a very cool castle in Palaiokastritsa that can be visited, Angelokastro.  So, if you find yourself in Palaiokastritsa, I’d recommend the beach, the sea caves, and the Angelokastro castle.

After our tours, the bus dropped us off near the old fort in Corfu Town and we walked around for a bit.  Debi bought a purse (she’s needed a new one for a while) and I bought a dessert similar to baklava, but slightly different.  It was made with sesame seeds, almonds, and honey.  It was okay, but not particularly great.  The streets of Corfu Town were cool, but it was very busy and very touristy.  We pushed getting back to the ship a bit and ran into some issues getting on the shuttle back to the dock as a lot of people were trying to get back on the later trips, but we eventually muscled our way on to one of the buses and made it back before the ship left (3:30).

We grabbed a late, light lunch at the buffet then crashed again.  Napping the day before screwed up my schedule and I ended up staying up until about 1:00 am writing.  So I was tired again in the afternoon and we all ended up sleeping.  We got up in time to shower and go eat again.  Luckily I skipped breakfast, so I wasn’t putting on weight!  Hooray!

This was the first formal night.  And, thanks to Suzy, both Toren and Ethan had tuxedos, which made them the hit of the ship.  Everyone kept pointing at them and various people wanted pictures with them.  Why, you ask?  Because they were this cute:

Ethan, Toren, and Debi all dressed up
Toren looking dapper
Toren taking a close look at the menu
Toren looking at the fountains in the Centrum
Toren in his tux

We hung around a bit after dinner for the Captain’s welcome then went to bed.

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