Sidari, Corfu: A Greek Tragedy


Splinters of sunlight sipped through the tree branches as we approached Paleokatrista, a quieter and more relaxed resort on Corfu’s west coast. As we walked through the town that stands on high cliffs tops, we enjoyed the view of the beaches and sea below. The crystal blue waters and the golden sand left us with a deep-rooted appreciation for the breathtaking natural beauty of the region.  The main part of Paleokatrista has bars, cafes, shops, restaurants and a number of large car parks. We could see people enjoying a variety of seaside activities while others relaxed, perhaps to soak up the sun on the beaches situated in between the abrupt cliffs. Others chose to venture further out in the water with canoes or paddle boats towards caves and small grottos.

After the day’s intense heat, the air in the room was barely breathable. So we set out at a traverna to enjoy a nice cold drink. I stared out over a beautiful bay. I could see the water out of the corner of the door, now I understood why Paleokatrista bay area is famous for its clear water, beautiful cliffs and striking blue-green colours. It conspicuously stands out among a string of six spectacularly situated coves. The view of the dramatic hills and cliffs surrounding the traverna was simply breathtakingly as the eye wandered through the incredible colours and background. Our craving for open spaces and fresh air led us to the many beautiful rocky beaches. We could not stop admiring the beauty and tranquillity of Paleokatrista, often hidden behind the lush greenery.

Sidari, a combination of small former fishing villages has slowly developed into a popular tourist destination.

Corfu grew in the 1980s into the veteran resort that has beds to accommodate over 14,000 visitors. It is certainly the place to be, especially for those seeking to relax in a popular lively place with many bars, restaurants and many hotels and apartments that can pack hordes of tourists. However, the effects of austerity and recession are clearly written all over Sidari, given the many hotels and shops that have been closed down. A few years back, this was a sleepy little place with a cluster of showily brilliant cottages surrounding a village square. Besides being a popular holiday destination, Sidari is becoming a little too commercialised with the overturn of the British visitors, and British bar owners. This reminds me of my home country, particularly in areas such as Canvey island and Blackpool which have been ‘invaded” by British commoners and British cuisine! I would certainly not go back to Sidari since much Greek culture has eroded, blurring the national identity and self-image of Greece. The most unpleasant moment that will remain etched on my mind is when we swam in a swimming pool that was next to a large pylon filled with electricity boxes with no safety and health awareness! No wander I could not catch sleep with no air conditioner!

Although a large part of the island is in ruins, at least much of it is still in perfect condition. Further, there are many magnificent natural attractions on Corfu where one can find peace.  The ‘delectable landscape’ of the island can still be seen on the beaches in the archipelago. One may even say that Corfu is somewhat a luxuriant Garden of Eden lying comfortably within the northwest region of Greece thanks to its beaches that have remained impressive, formidable and magnificent despite the aggressive nature of package tourism. 

However, we cannot refrain from noticing the undesirable aspects of Greek tourism-the once peaceful villages are now engulfed by drunken louts, while the once exquisite coast line massacred by the debris of sea pollution and cut-price tourist development. The once extraordinarily fine islands that had attracted mass tourists in the 1960s have been indiscriminately exploited over the years and fallen into a state of disrepair. The island’s deliberate destruction is a consequence of run-amok tourism, of handing a special jewel to unsparing tourist developers on a silver platter. 

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