Greek Islands, Part One ~ Corfu

There is no better way to see the Greek Islands than by boat. Unless you have a wealthy friend who takes you along on their yacht around the islands, then a cruise may be your best option. With a cruise, you can get a "taste" for several popular islands. It would be difficult to see multiple islands otherwise. Certainly I would have liked to have a little more time to explore each place we visited, but the time I had was just enough to whet my appetite to return. So, while technically I am able to cross the Greek Islands off the top of my travel bucket list, I now need to add several of the islands to my "Need To Go Back" list.

Below is a map of the route of our 7 day you can see we stopped in four ports. In each port we took a shore excursion offered through the ship  which is something I would highly recommend - otherwise it would have been very hard to see much of anything beyond the port itself. There are other options for shore excursions as well, but I was pleased with the ones offered by the ship. I had heard mixed reviews about cruise-organized shore excursions, but in my experience they were excellent (I did, however, spend quite a bit of time selecting the shore excursions that appealed to me). We had English speaking guides who gave us a lot of fascinating information about what we were seeing, even when we were just driving through the countryside
to get to our next destination.

We left Venice on a Saturday, were at sea for a day, and arrived at our first stop on Monday morning - Corfu.
Corfu is in the Ionian Sea. Unlike the volcanic islands of the Aegean, it is very lush and green.  Corfu was under Venetian rule for over 400 years, so the island has a distinct Venetian/Italian feel to it, rather than the traditional Greek feeling one might expect.
Our first stop was the Achilleion Palace, home to the Empress Elizabeth of Austria in the late 1800's.  It sits up on top of a hill with gorgeous sweeping views of Corfu and the ocean.
We also visited the Monastery of the Virgin in Paleokastritsa, which was a charming and peaceful setting high atop a mountain with stunning vistas all around.

View from the Monastery of the Virgin, Corfu
We had a typical Greek lunch near the beach...this was the view from our table:

Our tour ended in Corfu town where we had a chance to shop and sample the local delicacies. My favorites were the olives, pistachios and candied kumquats, all of which I bought to bring home. We had the only rain of our two week vacation (you can see the storm clouds brewing in my photos above) so I wasn't able to get any good pictures of the town. The picture below is not mine, but I am including it so you can get a feel for what the town is like (can you see the Venetian influence?).
 Next stop...Santorini...the island I have dreamed of visiting for many years!
I am participating in the "Oh The Places I've Been" link party at The Tablescaper with this post...wander on over and check out where everyone else has been this week!