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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

Corfu is an island on the Ionian coast of Greece and is about a 9 hour ferry ride to Italy. The climate and terrain is much different than the islands to the east and south of mainland Greece. It is actually green and reminds me more of Italy than Greece.
For me, Corfu was a tale of two hostels. Prior to arrival, I booked the Pink Palace. It sounded great online and ended up being the worst hostel I have ever stayed at, EVER. I arrived at reception at about 7am. The bartender, who looked to be 18 or 19 and was clearly drunk, was yelling and swearing at a girl at the bar. He had apparently done something to her and she spilled water as a rebuttal and the temper tantrum was his response. Another adolescent staff member showed me to my room. As we were walking he asked if my backpack was my backpack. This was the first time I had ever been asked such a question and it did not put me at ease. The room had 4 beds, but only 2 keys, and there were no lockers to secure your belongings. I had never experienced the shared keys with strangers while staying in a dorm situation before and the lack of lockers did not sit well with me after just being asked if I had stolen someone’s backpack. Unfortunately, I had paid a 1 night deposit and was stuck. Breakfast and dinner are included in the price. The food was beyond bad. For dinner we had a salad of rotting greens and a roast that was overly salted to such a degree that it was difficult to eat. The meat was accompanied by broccoli and carrots that were overcooked to the point that they were nearly baby food. The wifi was so slow that I couldn’t load a browser to find another hostel.
Checkout time everywhere in Corfu is 9 am, so I got up and out of there nice and early. I found the Sun Rock Hostel online and it was my only real option. Sun Rock is family owned and operated and the patriarch, Spiros came to pick me up. We talked the entire time I was in the van and I knew before the 20 minute ride was over that I would love Sun Rock. Spiros is extremely wise and smart and has a profound understanding of people and the world. The family also has an organic farm where they grow olives, grapes for wine, and vegetables, raise animals, and have bees for honey. Spiros’ wife, Magdalena runs the hostel and does most of the cooking. Their staff consists of backpackers who work as a means of supplementing a longer stay. They are not motivated or hard working and Magdalena is noticeably and understandably frustrated with them. The difference in food between the Palace and the Rock was also night and day. Dinner was pasta with lamb ragu and it was delicious. The only problem at Sun Rock was the lack of fans or AC in the rooms. There was no wind and it was very hot and stuffy at night. There was a hammock at Sun Rock and that made me very, very happy. Spiros and Magdalena are a wonderful couple and it was a pleasure to share their home.
Both hostels offered beautiful views and were close to a nice beach and a village. The village of Agios Gordis near the Palace was backpacker trash oriented, while the village of Pelekas near Sun Rock, despite being a very difficult uphill walk from the Hostel, was very nice. I went up there for lunch and had spit roasted lamb and rotisserie porchetta!
Corfu town is a UNESCO world heritage site and is well worthy of the designation. The Old Town reminded me of Spain or Italy. The architecture is beautiful and the streets are made from nice stone. I only spent a few hours there on my last evening on island, but really enjoyed it. Corfu is a relatively big island and I hardly scratched the surface. It’s a place worth checking out if you are traveling between Greece and Italy by ferry. If you’re traveling on a budget go to Sun Rock and not the Pink Palace!

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