Ypapanti Church, Kommeno & Achilleion Palace, Achilleio.
Corfu Travel Blog› entry 2 of 8 › view all entries
July 11th, 2009 – by: hoangn
We choose to sit at the Aegli restaurant, roughly in the middle of the promenade. The menu is pretty extensive with a mix of traditional Greek cuisine and a mixture of other continental foods. I opt for the traditional moussaka and Otu for the gyros. The moussaka I found was brilliantly tasty. My favourite part was the tomatoes generously layered on the top and was baked to perfection, sweet and satisfying. The portion was perfect not over filling and not stingy. Otu's gyros similar to kebab meat with pitta bread was a fairly generous portion. The plate also had some chips, salad and dips. Both main meals €9.90 each was a pretty good deal. Overall the restaurant is classed as a higher end priced establishment.
After lunch we wanted to have a quick walk around town. We headed round the back of the Liston to look in some of the shops. All selling tourist goods and souvenirs. The usual olive wood gifts, ceramics and picture/postcards. Plenty of food gift shops too, packed with almond and honey nougat, caramelised nuts and Kumquat. The great thing about these shops are that they let your try all the stuff before you purchase. Before we even stepped into a shop we were offered a small shot of Kumquat.
Ypapanti Church is a beautiful sight and not less beautiful at the onset of sunset. It is on a small islet connected to the mainland by a narrow path. A traditional Greek Orthodox wedding is very different to a Christian wedding. The groom awaits the arrival of the bride outside of the church with the wedding guests. At this beautiful setting we saw the bride and her wedding party walk the path from the mainland along the strip to the islet.
The whole ceremony is carried out in Greek so I was lost as soon as it started but the gist of it goes something like this. Lots of prayers and blessings are made. For the exchange of the rings the priest blesses the rings by holding them in his right hand and making the sign of the cross over the heads of the bride and groom. The rings are placed on the third finger of their right hand.
The bride and groom wear thin crowns called Stefana, which is joined by a white ribbon, blessed by the priest, the ribbon symbolises the unity. The Koumbara exchanges the crown between the bride and grooms head three times. A reading of the gospel of the marriage of Cana at Galilee is read, where Jesus first performed his miracle of changing water to wine. Here the bride and groom drink the wine from a common cup three times. The bride and groom next have to walk around the alter three times as their first steps of marriage.
The crowns are removed and the priest separates their joined hands with the bible to remind them that only God can separate this union. The couple and their family form a receiving line for the guests to wish them a long and happy life, "να ζήσετε" (pronounced "na zisete") to the couple and "να σας ζήσουν" (pronounced "na sas zisoun") to the family.
The reception held at Achilleion Palace, 10km south of the town of Corfu. The Palace was built with Achilles as its central theme. There are several statues of the mythical hero dotted around the grounds of the Palace. A champagne reception is held out on the gardens with a statue standing tall, Achilles as guardian of the Palace, it faces north towards the city. There is a DJ playing and the gardens lit up with lamps. I can only imagine the glorious view of the city during the day but at night all you see is the twinkling lights of the city. A sit down meal is prepared, the tables laid out on the main courtyard. We watch as the bride and groom arrive and a wedding cake is wheeled out to meet them. They cut the cake and it is fed to the Koumbaros/Koumpara. The bride and groom perform the first dance on the main dance floor.
Then the real party begins. Firstly the Greek dance. What I think was the Kalamatiano, a lively, 12-step, open circle dance was performed. The groom followed by the bride and then all the guests join hands in a circle. It all looked great from our table and then mayhem was unleashed when all the English guests were encouraged to join in. I think the first step would have been to teach us but they decided that we could learn on the spot. It turned out to be great fun but I cringe at the thought of the wedding footage. More dancing was to follow crazy leg kicking dances, steps to the macarena and a thriller dance dedicated to the couple.
If you ever get a chance to go to a Greek wedding, you must. No plate smahing is involved but still much fun to be had.
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