Tour or D.I.Y. holidays in Corfu

Apartment Corfu

Tour Operator Holidays
Be very careful when you book your apartments by tour operator. You may find they are quite a walk from the sea. Check exactly how far away from the beach, night life and shops your apartments are. Some can be a kilometre (over half a mile) away. Not that this is far but it can be a nuisance if you want a carton of milk.

Holidays organised by tour operators are the easiest and you have the advantage of a rep. Most reps are very good. There main function is to ensure your holiday runs smoothly. You will be asked to attend 'the meeting' at a local taverna. You will be briefed on how to use the toilet, when the rep will come and see you, etc. You will also be persuaded to hire cars (never scooters) and book trips at higher prices than you need to. This seems to be the main reason for 'the meeting'.

Please be considerate to reps. I have known a tourist who asked a rep to call because the handles on the cups in her apartment were too small to get her fingers in. I wont write what the rep said to me afterwards - it is unprintable. A reps life is not an easy one and they are very poorly paid. Towards the end of our holidays we always asked our rep to come out with us for a final fling. They will probably be too busy but they will appreciate the thought. I know a tip given discreetly is always welcome.

DIY Holidays and Apartments
The cost of DIY apartments is often too high now. In Spring and Autumn it is often CHEAPER and easier to use a tour operator. At the height of the season the savings are about 100. Finding an apartment without using an agent will save quite a bit. Probably around 15% or more. If you decide to come back next year, while you are on holiday, then is the time to ask around. There are some lovely quiet apartments run by Greek families that are much nicer than many of the usual tour operator places.

We, like most people with a family, started going to Corfu with a tour operator. Being greedy and trying to get in as many visits a year as we can I looked at ways of cutting the cost. The air fare can range from about 59 upwards return in May to about 160 in July a week or two before you fly. Leaving it any later and you may not get a fight. The later you leave it the cheaper the flights are, the earlier the more expensive. After the problems last year who knows how they will effect this year.

One thing you can do on a DIY holiday is shop around to get decent flight times. It is not so bad leaving home at 3am to catch a 6am flight but hanging around Corfu airport at 5am in the heat is not fun. Shope around and you will find a flight that has reasonable times. Tonight I found a 22.10 takeoff from Gatwick and coming home a 15.15 take off from Corfu airport. It was 20 more than the cheapest flight but believe me IT IS WORTH IT. You should also take out some family holiday insurance - about 50.

The taxi fare from Corfu Town for four is about (40) each way to Sidari. It is rather nice actually by taxi - no waiting, faster, help with the luggage, etc. You may be scared to death of course.
One point that I must unfortunatley state is that some taxi drivers are being intimidating and overcharging. Make sure you get a price before you get into the taxi or let the driver get to your bags.

The cost of an apartment for two can range from 18 to 30 per night in Aug. Some charge a constant amount throughout the season whilst others vary.

The contacts below are well worth a phone call.

Maria - 0030 26630 99099
These apartments used to be run by tour operators but Maria now books them herself . These are studios for 2 people. They are above her shop which is very quiet and there are no noisy tavernas or bars nearby. I am afraid I did not ask if there were apartments for 4. I will. 5 minutes to Sidari center and the beach is 20 Metres. Maria speaks perfect English.

Costas - 0030 26630 99346 / 95229
Mobil - 0972606383
Fax - 2663099346

These apartments are stuated between Melitsa (Sidari?) and Peroulades. Each are roughly 15 minutes away, about 1 Km. Ideal for those that want the best of both worlds. 2 apartments with 2 bedrooms each. Kitchen, bathroom and small sitting room that can sleep 1 or more extra people. Ideal for a family of 5. Pool nearby.

Prices
Low Season
May and June / September and October 45 Euro / day. Extra bed 7 Euro / day
High Season
July and August 65 Euro / day. Extra bed 10 Euro / day.
10% off if both apartments are booked.
All Cards are accepted :- Viza, Master Card, Maestro, etc.

Villa Kouvaris 1..... Villa Kouvaris 2..... Villa Kouvaris 3..... Villa Kouvaris 4

How do you find an apartment? Very simple. Ask any barman because he has a cousin who has one. Most of these apartments are very good and often better than those in the brochures. Personally I do not miss having a pool close by because of the noise in the afternoon. We often stay above a taverna and it is surprisingly quiet most of the time. There is a municipal law that forbids excessive noise after 11pm and strangely enough it is sometimes obeyed.

Welcome ? to Corfu Airport. Corfu Airport in July / August can be very crowded.

Arriving
Once off the plane for the 30 meter coach ride you then find yourself in the baggage hall. This can be civilised but it is very rare. Be patient and your baggage will eventually arrive. Average time about 1 hour, unless you are unlucky and there is a plane (or two) before yours still unloading. If you are taking a taxi BEWARE, as stated earlier, they can bully tourists into sharing a taxi, take you all over Corfu in the middle of the night to drop somebody else off and then grossly overcharge. This has only happened once to us - and that was once too often.

Departing

The following mainly applies to the high season.

I would not go through customs until your plane is called. Once through customs into the new departure lounge the only way to get some night air or a seat is back through customs (not allowed). The departure lounge can be VERY busy. Expect your plane to be late sometimes - or even up to half an hour early. There are two places for refreshment but regardless of the number waiting I have only ever see one open. There are usually very long queues.

Much of the overcrowding is not perhaps the fault of the Corfu Airport management but the tour operators who seem to reschedule (delay) their charter flights regardless of the discomfort it causes passengers. Nevertheless it is obvious that this airport needs to at least double in capacity. As it is long delays entitle you to a free drink and a bun from your tour operator. How generous can you get.

What a way to end a lovely holiday.

The last 2 years the flights were on time and the snack bar outside the departure lounge was a 1 minute wait. The food was better, fresher and the staff a lot more friendly than in the past. In 2003 it was 3 Euro (2.10) for a 500 ml bottle of Fanta. About twice the price of a coke in a pub in the UK.

The airport lounge has been extended now and it is a little more civilised. Some of the overcrowding had gone, providing you don't mind sitting on the floor for hours. Unfortunately there are still not enough seats although there is plenty of space for more.

Sometimes we can only get terrible flight times. That extra 20 or 30 really is worth it - BELIEVE.

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