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Streets of Corfu

Long ago I started to experience that one extremely memorable dream. One of those that doesn't fade out with first morning sunshine. Instead, it was regularly popping the surface of my mind making me wondering if these vivid images, haunting me every now and again, were just product of my imagination or perhaps there was something more hidden beneath. In the dream I wander the narrow streets of an unknown city one after another and after a while I stumble to the big square with large monumental building decorated with dark reddish bricks with no signs or any familiar markings I can recognize. I was always wondering where all these colorful images originated from and somehow always had that feeling that I am probably missing an important link to fully understand the whole picture.

Recently this final link suddenly appeared and during our vacation last week I accidentally found my dream site and all missing pieces finally placed together forming a memory almost 40 years old. Somehow, subconsciously, I have always known that it wasn't the dream at all and all the streets and buildings were very real and instead represent one of those almost forgotten recollections hidden deeply in my memory banks. What I saw in my night vision was the lost memory of the city of Corfu.

It all happened when I was the age of my son today. I was about 7 years old when my parents chose to spend vacation on the island of Corfu in the northern part of the Ionian sea, just about 100km away from the southern cape of the famous heel of Italian peninsula. While waiting for the ferry in the early morning, we took a walk to the empty streets of Corfu (Greek: Κέρκυρα), the main city named after the island itself and what was once one small walk under the morning sunshine now is just one almost faded memory for some reason refusing to die and from time to time reminding me of a beautiful site I experienced so long ago.

Couple of days ago, after almost four decades after my last encounter with the island, I decided to take my wife and son to the tourist cruise to Corfu. The ship was medium size filled with approximately 300 people of different nationalities and not so small group of Serbian tourists. During the final two years of World War I, the island of Corfu served as a refuge for the Serbian army that retreated there on Allied forces' ships. More than 150,000 soldiers, royal government and civilians established Serbian administration in exile during 1916-1918 while in Serbia under occupation of Austrian and Bulgarian armies staid only women, children and old men. We started browsing the city in the street of Moustoxidou, where next to the French Consular Agency lies honorary Consulate of Serbia or simply called Serbian House, the museum completely dedicated to the WWI events happened on the island and island of Vido (Greek: Βίδο) across the harbor (first three images above).

Center of the city is a labyrinth of narrow streets and it requires great orientation skills to remember where you are or where you were in order to find the place of interests. While we waited in front of Sorbonne's office of the French consular building, I got the idea to use extremely elongated portrait size of 16:9 aspect ratio of digital format and start taking photos of small stone alleys. Generally I don't like this format comparing to its landscape counterpart just because the image looks too narrow in vertical direction but in case of streets of Corfu I could say this is ideal combination. We didn't have much time until the ship departure time so I chose "Scene Selector" feature on my Coolpix camera (which is somewhat improved automated mode in Nikon's software for digital cameras) and started clicking at the beginning of each street we crossed. After little post processing (mostly minor changes in brightness, contrast and sharpness) this blog post is the result. I included in this page 36 images of beautiful small and narrow streets all taken in the center of Corfu.

When I was 7ish years old I was lot smaller, streets were empty and everything looked large to me. This is probably why I remembered the whole site and its mystical appearance in early hours. Especially when we stumbled big city hall with loud church bells echoing the streets. Today tourism changed the scenery a lot and streets are full of various stores, coffee shops and restaurants. Comparing to 70ies, now walking the colorful streets full of people and friendly salesmen brought familiar environment of other Greek towns. However, unusual city's topography with up and downhill streets orientated in all directions provides Corfu little authentic feeling and small glimpse to the old times when civilization was still knocking the doors of all Greek's coastal towns. My wife chose some small authentic Greek tavern ran by old couple where we experienced even further travel to the past where traditional Greek hospitality was still not influenced with modern times, Wi-fi hot spots and where time flowed much slower.

Our free time in Corfu were between 2 and 4 PM and photographing empty streets or scenery were mission impossible. Still I managed to find couple of empty streets and alleys or the ones with not too many people inside. These photos (in above last segments) ended probably the best and showing the Corfu's special mixture of Venetian, British, Italian, Greek, and Byzantine architecture mainly originated in 18th and 19th century.

At the very end of this special photo story I can only recommend this part of the Balkans highly along with Parga - small town where we settled for 10 days in a family villa next to amazing olive-tree forest. I am sure this part of western Greece hides many more interesting places to visit and photograph. If you add crystal clear waters of Ionian sea and friendly faces wherever you look I am sure spending just one vacation on the island is way too little time. I will definitely come here again in the future and this time I am not going to let new memory to fade again to the point of haunting dream like before. I have to say though that when I was walking the same streets again after long time I didn't experienced typical Déjà vu feeling like I described in the blog post last year. Even though there were some glimpses that looked familiar, too much time passed and I guess I wasn't able to recognize exact spots and views probably due the fact that children and adults experience events and scenery differently and not just because of different point of view but also because memory bucket of child's mind is lot's emptier and simply they don't have much data to compare with especially if they are experiencing something for the first time. Nevertheless, the whole experience with my lost memory was at least unusually unique and I doubt I would encounter many more alike.

Streets of Corfu (Full Photo Album):


Corfu (Wiki and Web):

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