One particular holiday there which sticks in my mind was the one where my friend and I found affordable car hire to go exploring the Island. We asked around other holidaymakers and locals of the best places to visit and we formulated a plan of where we would go.
Driving around the Island in our hire car with the roof rolled back and the sun beating down on us, we felt completely free and full of possibilities. We navigated the roads with ease and marvelled at the beautiful of our surroundings. The sea around Corfu is crystal clear and the skies were bright blue. We would stop off at sights which grabbed our attention and took photographs so that we would always have them to look back on.
After seeing so much beauty we were shocked as we rounded came over the brow of a hill to find that where all should have been green with shrubs and trees was actually black and withered. It turned out there had been a bush fire in the area some weeks before and it had devastated much of the Countryside. Such a shame in such a picturesque place but a stark reminder of how quickly things can change.
Pantokrator Monastery Corfu via Shutterstock
One place we had been told to visit was the Pantocrator Monastery which is situated at the top of the Pantocrator Summit, the highest peak on the Island of Corfu at 914m. The mountain had been named Pantocrator after the first Church which had been built there during the 14th Century. It was previously home to the ancient temple Zeus Cassios.
A manuscript of 1347 was written by the monk Anthimos from Perithia writes that the church was built that year during the rule of the Angevin Robert of Taranto. This church was eventually destroyed in 1537 and the present one was built at the end of the 17th Century and the outer cells in the 19th Century. The church is dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ and it is a single-nave Basilica. The Iconostasis is late 18th Century and the frescoes on the walls was the work of the Corfiot painter Ioannis Tzilios, but later they were painted over. (Source)
At the time that our visit to Pantocrator had been suggested I was just excited by the history of the Monastery and being a lover of stunning vistas I knew that the view from the top of the Mountain would be stunning with Corfu at its feet. What I didn’t consider was the drive to the summit as this was the first mountain I had been up. At the base of the mountain all was good but the higher we went, the more the road ‘snaked’ back upon itself becoming narrower and steeper with each turn. I also wasn’t prepared for the change in weather, what had started out as a clear, hot and sunny day quickly became foggy, rainy and eventually hail stones the size of golf balls. We stopped at one point to roll the roof back on our hire car and it was at this point that I started to cry. I realized that although I do not have a fear of heights in general, I do have a fear of being in a vehicle on a tiny road on the side of a mountain. We spoke to a bus driver who happened to come by on the corner where we had stopped and asked if it was possible to turn around and go back but he said that the only way down was to go to the top and go back down the other side which wasn’t quite so sheer. Obviously we had no choice so we kept going VERY slowly and as steady as we possibly could on each bend until what felt like hours later (though was probably only 20 minutes) we arrived at the summit. The Monastery was beautiful but with the low cloud and persistent rain we didn’t actually get to appreciate the full beauty of it and we also didn’t get to appreciate the view since all we could see were the clouds we were standing in, which was handy bearing in mind I then discovered that I had run out of space on my camera so I couldn’t capture anything if I wanted to.
After a short walk we decided that we would be better to get back on the road and descend the mountain. I’m pleased to say that the road down wasn’t quite so hair raising as the ascent and I cried with relief when we were finally back at the bottom.
Amalfi Coast Italy via Shutterstock
It was these precise #MotoringMemories which have affected most of my holidays ever since. On our honeymoon in Italy we were staying on the Amalfi Coast but there was no way I was going to travel along the road which weaved in, out and around the mountain so we travelled by boat. I’d heard that the views from the road were amazing but I have to say I think we saw the beauty of the coast far better from the boat. We also ran into one of our own work colleagues from the Motor Dealer we worked at who had just travelled the coast road by bus and was feeling very much worse for wear. He said that he, too, would be travelling back by boat.
In 2012 I was lucky enough to win a competition to travel with Hubby to the South of France to be one of the first to drive the new Citroen DS5. The idea of driving abroad again filled me with dread but I didn’t want to be afraid anymore and I knew that it would be too good an opportunity to pass up. It was nerve-wracking sitting behind the wheel for the first time on foreign soil but I quickly settled into it and managed to drive from St Tropez to Cannes without problem as well as a couple of mountain roads. What I found was that in my years of maturity I had relaxed and realized my own capabilities and I really enjoyed the experience so the next time we travel abroad as a family I won’t be afraid to hire a car from a reputable company like Auto Europe to allow our family to explore our new surroundings (and next time I shall make sure I have a bigger memory card to capture it all).
What are your favourite motoring memories?