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Beeline to Myrtiotissa Beach - Corfu - By David Mutlow - 22 August 2009

There’s a bee in my oily mousaka! It’s not moving. It just slid off onto the plate in its own pool of Olive Oil. I ought to complain, but after a week in this undiscovered backwater of Corfu I had become used to the enterprising antics on Myrtiotissa beach. With characteristic gusto Yannis solves my problem with a finger and thumb. “Its one of mine” says Yannis “I keep them up in the cliffs in hives and sell the honey” pointing to his jam jars. “They just want their honey back” Yannis shack; of bamboo, elephant grass and driftwood is situated on Myrtiotissa beach on the west coast of Corfu. Myrtiotissa beach is not easy to find a driftwood sign nailed to an olive tree was my only clue. Walking down a dirt track meandering between the olive trees I found myself standing on a cliff overlooking a tranquil bay. Fresh water from the 200ft cliffs trickled over the rocks and down onto the beach below

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Looking out to the west I could see a clear blue horizon Italy being 70 miles away. Myrtiotissa beach lacks the commercialization found on Corfu’s other beaches its isolated location means a walk of at least half an hour is needed to get down to the beach. However commerce is vibrant, its northern end is for clothed or partially clothed sun seekers but its southern end is where the backpackers, travellers and the islands gypsy minded residents reside. A hippy persona emanates everywhere. Artists selling their paintings, jewellery and friendship bands sit naked in the sand sheltering from the sun. Everyone is brown, a procession of bathers walk from the mirror sea to the fresh water shower flowing from the cliff onto the beach. Many using olive oil to enhance their tan whilst others play beach ball in their birthday suits. As unspoilt beaches go, Myrtiotissa beach is hard to beat.

on three sides by vertical cliffs with a snake path that no vehicle can follow, its fine sandy beach gently slops
into the sea. Standing at the waters edge toes disappearing into the sand I find Joanne (Yannis wife and rival to Ursula Andress in Dr No’) back from her afternoon diving adventure displaying a pile of black urchins glistening in the sun, a real pain if you stand on one and Joanna’s self-appointed mission to rid these pests from the beach. Opening one Joanna shows me the orange food inside then eats it raw passing some to me.

Tasting similar to mussels I was pleasantly surprised. Brown bodies abound I could still distinguish between Germans, Scandinavian and Brits. The Italians are a category apart; cultural backgrounds can manifest themselves even on a nudist beach. Fashion conscious Italians, beer swilling Scandinavians, territorial Germans and lobster coloured Brits can be distinguished with ease. Yet the difference between the residents and hardcore travellers was harder to judge. ‘The best time to get to know who’s who is in the evening” says Joanna. “As quite a few sleep on the beach overnight.” As the sun gets low in the sky the day visitors begin to leave, a precession of coloured garments snake there way slowly up the winding path and disappear from view.

“Quality time” as Joanna described it, starts about now. Ambling along the waters edge, wearing a sarong in ‘Beckham style’ I stumble into the travellers’ encampment hidden from view of the main beach. Attracted by the aroma of grilled fish, life here looked primitive, yet I could see there were plenty that had chosen to camp on the beach for weeks. Familiar faces sitting in the shade only hours before were grouped around a campfire. Rhythms of ‘Cat Stevens’ strummed on a guitar mingle with the evening heat. Sleeping bags arranged in groups, logs arranged around the campfire all were changed and ready for the evening to come.

Getting there from Corfu Town & airport. Myrtiotissa beach is 15km west of Corfu town. Take the Glyfada (Via Vatos) green/cream bus (45mins) from the New Port central bus station in Corfu Town and ask for Myrtiotissa beach bus stop (40 mins), you will be dropped of by the side of a road next to an Olive grove with a dirt track. Follow the signs to the beach (The last bus back to Corfu town is 20:30). If you take a car make sure you park in the parking place half way down the dirt track in the olive grove. Beyond the parking area the dirt road becomes really steep a 1in3 incline. Taxis direct from the airport can cost up to 40 euros so ask the price first and then haggle. The Green Bus station from the airport is 4 km so a local bus to the bus station is needed.

Sleeping on the beach… In Greece, it’s illegal to camp on a beach as there is no revenue earned through its tourism, at Myrtiotissa those that chose to sleep overnight on the beach take their tents down during the day and only put them back up in the dark, others just have their sleeping bags and netting. Myrtiotissa’s isolated location makes the policing of unofficial campers, difficult. As long as no tents are seen it’s possible to become one with the beach and the sea without paying for any accommodation.

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