Meine Liebeserklärung an Korfu



Did you know your path can wind itself over hills and through valleys and gorges, passing dreamy plains? Away beyond rivers and oceans and babbling brooks? Did you know it can lead under the sea, and over the ocean? How will you ever know whether you're on the right path? If you wear a smile on your face; if what you do makes you feel happy and fills you with joy. The right path will always be where you are happy. (Ramtha)


From the skies, usually mild, yet sometimes overcast, but always dutifully watching over the shady olive groves and merging into the blue of the sea somewhere in the distance, Dr. Sophie Leiter arrived in Corfu for the first time ever in her life. In Germany, everything had settled neatly into place. She loved her job as a doctor in a hospital in Muenster, here she had found her true vocation. After a few disappointments, Michael walked into her life and Sophie knew he’d be the one she wanted to grow old with. At the moment, they were in a long-distance relationship, but Sophie was happy. Everything was turning out for the best.

At the airport, Rolf was waiting in the small café that was at the end of the street in front of the departure hall. He’d already spotted her, as she was standing on the pavement with her suitcase, searching. Crowds of tourists were streaming out of the building, heading in the direction of the many buses and taxis which were to transfer them to their holiday resorts.
He’d promised his friend, Martha, to pick Sophie up from the airport, and she had given him a photo of her to take with him.

“So that you recognise Sophie. And don’t you dare come back without her!” she’d said, laughing. A few years ago, the two women had worked together in the hospital and they had become friends. Since then, Martha had married a Greek man, with whom she managed a small guest house in the north-west of the Island.

Sophie was wearing jeans, a light blue sweatshirt and red trainers. She couldn’t wait to discover how Martha had adapted to her completely new life. During the flight, she had remembered the send-off in the hospital and the heart-warming words of the senior consultant, Prof. Dr. Boek.
‘Doctor Werner, when you go, this hospital will be losing an outstanding doctor and I deeply regret you are leaving. However, everyone here can understand that you´re just following the calling of your heart. That is what makes an excellent cardiologist, after all! I´d therefore like to present this parting gift from all of us to you, with our heartfelt thanks.’
Martha had been moved to tears as she unpacked the life-sized porcelain heart decorated in the Greek national colours.
Rolf stood up and threw the paper cup from which he’d been drinking a frappé into a dustbin.
“You must be Sophie. I’m Rolf, welcome to Corfu! Martha wanted to come herself, but her little daughter isn’t very well today, so she decided to stay home instead.”
He showed her the photo.
“Martha sent me a message with a photo of you just before my take off to make sure I wouldn’t drive away with some other man,” Sophie said, laughing and brushing one of her brown curls behind her ear, “I hope it’s nothing too serious with the little one?”
“No, I don’t think so, it’s something to do with her stomach. She went to a children’s birthday party yesterday ... I won’t say any more. Is this your first visit to Corfu?”
“Even to Greece at all, actually.” She smiled. “But Martha was so enraptured by it every time she came that I just had to come here once to see. Good thing you speak my language, I don’t speak any Greek except for the two words Iassu and Kalimera. Where did you learn to speak German so well?”
“At home,” Rolf laughed, “I’m from Bonn. About thirty years ago I came here for the first time with my parents. Then shortly after finishing school with a friend in an old Renault 4, then later a couple more times. Three years ago, I finally decided to move here entirely.”
“Oh, I used to have a car like that too, dashboard gear stick!” she simulated the gear change movement with her hand.
“Yes, you’re right, a good car. All the camping gear would fit into it easily. Incidentally, a lot of people initially take me for a Greek.”
They loaded Sophie’s suitcase and hand luggage into his small Suzuki Jeep and set off.
“I can close the top if you like. It tends to get a little chilly later in the mountains.”

“No, this is wonderful! I have brought something suitable with me, please leave it open, then we can see better too.”
Sophie pulled out a scarf out of her bag.
Exactly the colour of her hair, he thought.
“Martha already told me it would probably be a good idea to pack some warm things, too.”
“That definitely makes sense for the evenings in May. I’ve just got to pick up something in a shop in Dassia, it won’t take long. We’ll reach Arillas in about an hour.”
“No problem, I’m on holiday.”
Suddenly, his mobile rang.
“It was Martha, she wanted to know if you arrived safely. You seem to have your phone switched off.”
“She’s right, it’s still on inflight mode.” Sophie remembered.
“She told me it would be a good idea to go and drink a coffee somewhere, she wants to finish your apartment first. She hasn’t been able to do it until now because of Maria. Well, if that is okay with you, of course.”
“Yes, it sure is. How’s the little one?”
“She seems to be a bit better now, she had a stomach upset, just as I thought.”
He’d lost count of how often Sophie had expressed her excitement during their drive to the north-west part of the island.
They were driving through a sea of blossoms, made up of broom and dark red poppies, amid gnarled olive groves, bushes of orange Lantana flowers, huge oleander bushes and meadows full of midday flowers. The air was filled with the sweet scent of the surrounding flora.
“What a wonderful sight!” Sophie exclaimed excitedly.
“Yes, they even flower here until September because the wind brings enough moisture from the Albanian mountains and the Greek mainland and now and again it rains too.”
This island, which Rolf could recognize purely by its scent, he had long since considered his home.
After a short stop in Dassia they drove into Dafni for a short break.

Sophie stepped onto the terrace of the café Melisito and gazed at the rolling countryside. She did so with such an intensity, that it made Rolf sense that this was far more than just the simple amazement of a tourist who was visiting Corfu for their first time. This magical island, this crescent of land in the Ionic sea, that had been fought over so often and had already captivated many kings and queens, also now moved her deeply.
Her gaze wandered over the wide green valley to the gently rolling hills where proud cypress trees stood to attention, like silent watchmen amidst the olive groves, ready to confront the slightest foe. Small villages clung on to the steep hillsides, which disappeared at some point into the sea only to rise out again, wilder and steeper, merging with the Albanian mountains.
Smiling, she turned to him, her brown eyes shining.

“It is so beautiful here!”
“I’m glad it pleases you.”
“Pleases me? ... it is far more than pleasing ... it is simply fantastic! I can understand Martha already now.”
“How long will you be staying?”
“Two weeks, no, fifteen days even! I can hardly believe that I am allowing myself so long.”
“Oh, then you will still be here for the name-day of Martha’s husband and his cousin Helena. It’s even more important than birthdays here in Greece. It means a big party.”
 “I have never eaten such a delicious piece of lemon cake, it’s just the right combination of meringue and lemon. Not too sweet, not too sour. I bet the lemons are from the trees growing over there.” said Sophie over a cappuccino and cake during their stop.
“Maybe they are, the apple pie is very good too though.”
“I wasn’t planning on fattening myself up too much.” Sophie laughed.
“Maybe you could come by here again during your stay, it’s not far from your apartment.”
“Well I’ll almost definitely do that ... if only for the view: Shall we not say ‘Du’ to each other? We are both friends of Martha, after all.”
“Yes, that’d be fine with me, Sophie. That’s generally how it is. Anyway, on the whole they are fairly relaxed here, if you maintain Greek habits, that is. One shouldn’t overdo it with them though.”
“No, of course not! I’d better ask Martha to explain the ins and outs of Greek etiquette to me.”
He glanced at his mobile.
“We can set off now, your room is ready. Martha is looking forward to your arrival, it isn’t far now, only a couple of kilometres.”
“Then let’s go, I can’t wait to see her again, she has just written to me too. Let me get the tab, if you don’t mind, you have picked me up from the airport after all!”
“Thank you very much, I accept!”
“My word, it is quite rough here,” said Sophie sometime later, “Now I know why you drive a Jeep ... the state of these roads!”
“Yes, it is really the most suitable vehicle for Corfu.” he laughed.