Insider's guide to... Corfu

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The Independent Travel

What's the weather like now?Well, after last week's thunder, lightning, downpours and, in general, the kind of weather that package-tourists don't expect, paradise is back to its usual self: melatoma-inducing rays and 100 per cent humidity.

What's the weather like now?Well, after last week's thunder, lightning, downpours and, in general, the kind of weather that package-tourists don't expect, paradise is back to its usual self: melatoma-inducing rays and 100 per cent humidity.

What are the locals complaining about?The heat. The humidity. The lager louts. Whatever's keeping the Yanks away yet again this year. And, of course, the activities of the 17 November terrorists.

Who's the talk of the town?Not who, what. "Spyros" and "Spyridoula" (a quarter of the islanders are named one or the other) were talking about Nicolas Cage, over on Cephalonia filming Captain Corelli's Mandolin, until, that is, the 17 November group mowed down its latest victim in Athens. "Spyros" would prefer to believe that the homegrown terrorist organisation's killings comprise "surgical strikes" of spies by spies. "Spyridoula", on the other hand, thinks murder is murder, however it's done. Either way, with so much of the Corfiot tourist industry devoted to the British, everyone here agrees that this killing is just another example of Greece shooting Greece in the foot. Right at the start of the tourist season.

What's the cool drink to order?Iced coffee, or "frappé", one after another, all day and night long. If you're flush, it's a "Grecotel Surprise" from the Alkinoos Bar out at Kommeno: three-parts gin, two-parts exotic fruit cordial, one-part Amaretto, with orange juice and strawberry syrup. Bartender Alex Mortzos is the man with the shaker, and his "surprise" sure beats a frappé.

What are people eating?Well, we're all wearing soft ice-cream from Igloo: it's so hot, it's melting down our arms. But the mussels and pasta at La Famiglia, in Corfu Town, are fabulous, and huge shrimps on the beach at Agni, at Toula's, are another gastronomic destination of choice. There are also sea urchins, right out of the sea, for those with the knack - it beats stepping on them.

What's the latest outrageous stuff on TV?Mexican "sapounoperas" ("sapouni" means soap), dubbed into Greek. Hours and hours of them, daily.

Where won't the locals dream of going?Kavos. Lager louts. Plus something called "foam sex". Say no more.

Where are the locals going that tourists don't know about?The To Taxidi Bar in Logos on Paxos is the place to head for.

Where are the chic shopping?Terracotta, in Corfu Town, for Corinna Politi-Koutouzi's bracelets in silver and bronze (very like her father, the late author Kevin Andrews' work). Mag, also in Corfu Town, for 22-carat gold bikini chains and anklets, made to order. And, in Lakka, on Paxos, Il Pareo, for south-east Asian clothing and accessories, especially bags.

What's the trendy place to escape for the weekend?The Casa Lucia cottages and alternative-healing retreat in Sgoumbo village. For t'ai chi, reiki, yoga and "sacred circle dancing", this is the place.

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring is the author and photographer of the forthcoming 'Insight Pocket Guide: Corfu'.

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