The Corfu Holiday Palace is a resort hotel with a dream like location, overlooking the Southern coast of Corfu in an area called Kanoni, home of Theodore Stephanides. My room opened into a balcony that led to a garden which fell steeply down to the sea. (Being the 21st century, the hotel had installed a sloping elevator track to lift people directly up from the beach below to the hotel swimming pool! )
Corfu clearly has changed much since Durrell's days and one doesn't need to belong to Mensa to figure that one out. It's become a highly developed tourist destination, and I mean that in its purely pejorative sense. It's also been a traditionally popular destination for the British, and so most locals speak English. Whether this popularity is derived from Durrell's books or whether from the fact that Corfu was a British colony in the early years of the 20th century I am not certain -- perhaps the latter. The over-developed tourism was epitomised this morning by one of those hideous sights of toy trains that run along the roads in many cities in Europe, giving tourists (mostly American, Europeans prefer to walk) a 'walking tour' of the streets, without needing to use their legs. To make matters worse, this one in particular had a large red banner emblazoned with the words 'McDonalds'. I can't help thinking Gerry would have thought of his unspoilt paradise.
Corfu town is a bustling market town, with cars, public buses and those monstrous tourist buses (from which tourists in air conditioned comfort peer out to look at the local fauna), all jostling for space on narrow streets. To make matter worse, people parallel park on both sides of the roads, reducing the width of the streets even further.
This being Greece, one can't walk anywhere without stumbling across the ruins of a Temple of Artemis or say, a Temple of Hera from around the 4th century B.C.E. In fact, both of these can be seen along the route from the hotel to the conference centre at Mon Repos, a distance of little more than a kilometer. In addition there are numerous other ruins strewn around various places which are not even 'labelled'.
I will eventually put in some photos. Unfortunately I find that I have left the cable that connects my camera to the laptop (no, it's not standard mini-USB) at home. So enthusiastic visitors to this blog - sorry, but you will have to wait till I get back in a few days.