As a rule of thumb, unless I absolutely adore a destination I don’t tend to go back there for a few years. I do this because I have limited holiday at work and like to maximise my breaks by exploring new places. The exceptions, of course, seem to be Barcelona, Amsterdam (where I’ve now visited four times in a couple of years) and now… Corfu.
Corfu was somewhere I spent a good few holidays when I was younger – back in the days when my parents would fund my travels! The first time I visited, I made a friend named Abby and more than 10 years on, we’re still BFFs. As we live hours apart we don’t tend to see each other that much but we’re still very close.
But when the bad weather continued earlier this year I decided enough was enough and I needed a break. I needed to find somewhere hot, by the sea, and preferably that I hadn’t visited before. But cheap flights and the thought of Greek food won me over and I ended up booking another trip to Corfu. Somewhat influenced (quite heavily) by the prospect of staying at the Pink Palace.
The Pink Palace is an entirely bright pink complex made up of a couple of blocks of buildings. It’s huge. It’s also precariously placed on the lower half of one of Corfu’s jutting mountains, and the drive there entails climbing up the side of one mountain in a rickety transfer bus and sliding almost all of the way back down the other side.
As usual I booked myself into the cheapest hostel room, with the reasoning that this was going to be a Cheap Break and I didn’t really need a balcony.
…Only to arrive at TPP and find myself in an upgraded room! Still a hostel room, but in the ‘hotel’ part of the hostel, sharing with two American girls with a balcony and a private bathroom.
I’d worried that Corfu would be empty and I’d be friendless for the duration of my trip. As it was only a quick break it didn’t bother me too much – I knew I could do a walking tour, spend some time in the centre and relax by the pool. But how wrong I was. It seems the hoards of American students studying in Europe had decided to visit Corfu for their Spring Break. From what I understand, Spring Break in Europe coincides nicely with Easter holidays and also my trip! So my relaxing break was spent almost entirely drinking, sunbathing, eating and sleeping. And it was great.
I think I was lucky and didn’t get traveller’s guilt from not seeing more of the island on the basis that I’d already done all of that. Some of the people I met were worried they hadn’t maximised their visit – like many of us do – because they’d been drinking and partying instead of going on tours around the country. But I had no regrets and I think it was exactly what I needed in a holiday, following the end of my relationship and a stressful few weeks at work.
The Pink Palace was a truly excellent hostel. It’s half hotel and half hostel and I think my new friends and I must have been upgraded because the hostel was overbooked. Fine with me. The rooms had everything we needed – a balcony, mini fridge and enough room to fit more than a handful of people inside. The bathroom was adequate (although our extensive pre drinks resulted in our toilet almost entirely breaking) and the beds were very hard, which was good for my back but maybe not for anyone else.
One of the main highlights of the trip was the food. Breakfast and dinner are included in the price of the room and they’re both excellent. Breakfast was a choice of bacon, eggs, bread, cereals, cold meats and cheeses, coffee and juice. It was buffet style so could easily set you up for the day. Dinner was soup with salad and a hot meal like meat and vegetables, lasagne or pasta. All really good – especially as they were free.
Lunch wasn’t included but could be bought very cheaply from the pool bar. They had a variety of typical ‘pool bar’ foods like pizza, burgers, gyros (Greek kebabs) and salads. Maybe not the healthiest but delicious nonetheless. The drinks at the bars were cheap too – poolside cocktails for €4 anyone?
The hostel advertises things like booze cruises and day trips. One of the excursions was a trip to the city centre which I didn’t take but my friends did. From what I heard it was good fun and lasted around six hours. I would have loved to have gone on a booze cruise but because it wasn’t technically high season they weren’t running.
But they were running their toga parties – something incredibly American and not very ‘me’ at all but actually a hilarious night. We paid €20 to rent the toga (literally just a giant pink sheet) and had to struggle to cover ourselves with it without flashing! But for that €20 we got two drinks, the toga, and then €10 back the next day if we returned the sheet. So a good deal I’d say.
TPP also has the joy of a private beach. Well – it might not be technically private (I’m not 100% sure on this) but the location is pretty much in the middle of nowhere so there’s very slim chance of someone else coming onto the beach and disrupting your privacy. The only things really close by to the hostel were two mini supermarkets where we could buy food and, more importantly, alcohol. On the first night I drank just over a litre of red wine (and felt it horrifically the next day) which cost me a grand sum of… €5.
The alcohol wasn’t expensive at the hostel but it was even cheaper at the minimarts. So of course everyone strolled to one or the other each evening to stock up before the nights started. Even more conveniently than this was the fact that the only nightclub within justifiable distance was actually underneath the hostel. So the furthest I trekked throughout my trip there was down to the club and back up to my room.
Although when I say back ‘up’ to my room, I’m talking literally. Between the hotel and the hot tub (which was also great fun and where I spent a lot of my time) was 122 steps. And when it’s almost 20C – that’s a bit of a walk. The hostel part of the complex was on the same level as the hot tub and almost the same as the beach but the hotel part was allll the way up these stairs. It was probably around a 10 minute walk but entirely uphill.
But maybe the best part of my trip was all of the friends I made. The two American girls in my room had arrived the day before and somehow already got a group together. When I arrived, I slipped seamlessly into place and our group of 12 spent the rest of the trip together. Luckily, we all left on the same day so there was no FOMO to be had from anyone. And even better, a lot of us are meeting up next week in Rome, where two of the boys are studying!
I’m not sure when I’ll go back to Corfu again (as four times on one island seems a bit excessive) but I can honestly say I loved every minute of this trip. I turned up openminded, expecting a few days of sunbathing by the sea and instead made a whole group of friends that I’m keeping in contact with for future trips. And I’d 100% stay at The Pink Palace again!
Have you visited Corfu before? Let me know in the comments!