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      March 2012 > The spirit of Filoxenia

The spirit of Filoxenia

Arillas, CorfuThe start of the late spring/summer walking season is almost upon us and we’re now putting the finishing touches to our new holidays ready for you to enjoy.

I’ve just returned from Corfu’s West Coast having walked all the routes and written the detailed walking notes so that you can discover the delights of this beautiful island on a rewarding walking holiday without having to worry about finding your way.

We are spoiled, here in the UK, by having OS maps – probably the best maps in the world. Sadly, the same cannot quite be said for Greece, where the best on offer is a road map showing roads and major tracks at the very best and certainly no footpaths. That’s why our notes have to be meticulous and that’s why it’s useful to have someone with local knowledge to help.

And so it was that on arrival in Corfu, I was met by Henk van Wijngaarden of Dutch walking company Stapreizen. Inntravel and Stapreizen have been working together in Greece for many years. Indeed, all our walking holidays in Greece have been developed in conjunction with our Dutch colleagues, who between them have tremendous knowledge of the Greek language, anthropology and ancient history. Henk, an experienced archaeologist and self-proclaimed ‘Grecophile’, also has an unrivalled knowledge of the region’s footpaths and it was great fun to team up with him on our exploration of Corfu – his advice and fluency in the Greek language proved invaluable. One particular moment springs to mind…

We’d been walking all day and (how shall I put it?) we had caught the ‘last of the winter rain’. Our route had taken us from the long, curving, sandy beach at Agios Georgios, over the headland, and then along a wonderful sea-level, coastal walk to Arillas (above) from where we climbed another headland to drop down into Agios Stefanos.

Metaxa on CorfuThe heavens had opened and we were wet and muddy (don’t worry – it’ll be hot and sunny by the time you get there – apparently, the sun hasn’t stopped shining since I left!), so we sought shelter in the first bar we came to. It was actually closed for redecoration but Henk greeted the owner with a smile, a kalί sperá and started a conversation, chatting about the weather (How very English!). We were invited in by this kindly gentleman (pictured here on the right), who was apologetic that he had no food he could offer us. The wonderful Greek tradition of filoxenia (‘hospitality to strangers/ a genuine 'what’s mine is yours’ attitude) did not stop him, however, from offering us a local ‘delicacy’ – two rather large Metaxa brandies! Warmed the very cockles of my heart!

More importantly Henk asked him about our proposed route to our final destination in Peroulades, and he gladly advised us on the best way to go, appreciating the fact that we’d asked him. I say ‘we’, but apart from a few basic words, like kalί merá (‘good morning’), jiá sas (‘hello’) and duo birra, (‘two beers’) I don’t speak Greek – it was all down to Henk. The upshot was that we easily found our way forward on a pleasant path that took us straight to our destination.

So thank you, Manthos, of ‘Manthos Original Taverna’ in Agios Stefanos (“other bars are available”)! Thank you for the advice, for giving us a brief respite from the rain – and for the brandy. We completed our walk in fine (Greek) spirits!
Walking on Corfu 


Posted: 28/03/2012 11:43:58 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: gastronomy, Greece, nature, slow, walking

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