Ypapanti Church, Kommeno & Achilleion Palace, Achilleio.

Corfu Travel Blog

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Yannis hands Spyridoula the floral bouquet
Having gone to bed at 5am we slept till 12 noon.  I was eager to get out into town to see, to smell, to experience.  The sun was blazing hot as expected and the air was completely still.  The heat was overwhelming as we stepped out of the air conditioned hotel.  We headed out to find some food and watch to watch the Corfiots sashay through the Liston.  As the hotel was so central we walked along the sea front and onto the Liston is around 5mins.  As we approached the elegant arcaded promenade we can see that it has a stylish air about it, like the streets in Paris.  It is said to be modeled on the Parisian Rue de Rivoli.  A reminder of the French occupation.  The Liston is not short of a place to eat or drink.
Ypapanti Church in Kommeno
  There are plenty of trendy and crowded cafes. 

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.
The Liston
  Average prices compared to London but definately higher end in Corfu.  Otu tried the ouzo, even though I did warn him that this was technically our breakfast meal!

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.
The ceremony
  We sampled the sweet seasame sticks, caramelised nuts and plenty of nougat. Yummy.  We quickly weaved through lots of cobbled path ways, seeing more of the same shops.  One piece of advice, bring your shades!  All the shiny marbly floors of the old town are enough to blind you when the blazing hot sun reflects off them.  As we kept going we ended up out into the new town area.  Map in hand we somehow managed to get lost!  We wondered around for a fair bit before we finally admitted out ourselves that we were in fact completely lost.  The last landmark I remember is the hospital and after that we walked, what felt like a million miles in the desert!  Finally we decided to approach a local to ask for help, unfortunately she didn't speak any English and so we were still stuck.
The rice
  While we were standing on the pavement scratching our heads trying to decide which direction to take a taxi pulls up.  We ask him to get us back to the hotel, he wasn't completely sure of the location but he said he could give us a ride to the port for FREE and then point us in the right direction.  Our saviour.  Greek people are the best! So friendly and so willing to help!

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.
Statue of Achilles in Achellion Palace
  A choir/band of sum variety is part of this walk, they play joyous music and sing for the occasion.  The groom and his parents wait anxiously at the foot of the steps of the church.  On her arrival the groom receives the bride and offers her the floral bouquet, there is a short embrace before they head inside of the church together followed by the guests.  This being a small church all the guests stand.

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 rice throwing
  The Koumbaros/Koumpara (the religious sponsors) swaps the rings between the bride and the grooms fingers three times, everything is repeated three times to symbolise the holy trinity, the father, the son and the holy spirit. 

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.
More statues at Achillion Palace
  They are still wearing their Stefana and the Koumbara follows closely behind them.  The guests throw rice at the couple to symbolise strong roots.

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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Yannis hands Spyridoula the floral…
Yannis hands Spyridoula the flora…
Ypapanti Church in Kommeno
Ypapanti Church in Kommeno
The Liston
The Liston
The ceremony
The ceremony
The rice
The rice
Statue of Achilles in Achellion Pa…
Statue of Achilles in Achellion P…
The rice throwing
The rice throwing
More statues at Achillion Palace
More statues at Achillion Palace
Corfu
photo by: TaxMonkey