This trip was taken in June 2007 with my wife, Ellen. Amazing!
World's Sexiest Islands
Real life is the enemy of sexiness. Real life is a bad economy, mortgage worries, global warming. Sexiness is the act of shedding worries and slipping off the constraints of real life. Best of luck doing that at home. While finding a sexy beach is a good start, at this point you need more. You need the total escape that comes only with an island, preferably one that's not merely physically set apart from the mainland but that feels a million miles away. The type where inhibitions are lessened, the locals friendlier and more open-minded, and where less actually is more. Whether you choose a beachy scene like Mykonos or an energetic city island like Hong Kong, these are the places where it's okay to meet a stranger on the beach or at a club and embark on a licentious adventure. Or where you and your partner can forget about the horrors of the boring old real world and get back to sexy.
Published November 2008. Pictured: Mezzatorre Resort, Ischia, Italy
See + Do
Corfu, Corfu, Greece
The most heavily visited of the Ionian Islands, Corfu draws sun-worshippers and resort-hoppers (and is a good jumping-off location for more islands), but it also attracts history and architecture buffs. Corfu Town retains the hodgepodge cultural elements brought over by the French, British, and especially the Venetians—all of whom ruled at different points over the past eight centuries. Venetian architecture abounds: Instead of the usual white sugar-cube-style buildings endemic to Greece, structures here tend to be ocher or dark pink, with shutters and red-tile roofs. The most venerable Venetian structures are the town's two fortresses: the Palaio Frourio, or "Old Fortress," originally a Byzantine structure that was renovated by the Venetians between the 13th and 15th centuries (30-266-104-8310), and the Neo Frourio, the "New Fortress," built by the Venetians between 1576 and 1589. Both are open daily to tourists for a small admission fee.
Two other sites that attract culture vultures (and buses of package tourists—unless you arrive early) are the palaces-turned-museums of Mon Repos and the Achilleon. Mon Repos, the closest to town, was once the summer house of the Greek Royal family; it has two Doric temples on its grounds, a beach, lovely gardens, and a theater (30-266-103-0680; closed Mon). Slightly farther afield in the village of Gastouri is the Achilleon, a rococo palace built in 1890 by a hypochondriac Austrian empress who settled on the island to take advantage of the clean air (30-266-105-6245; open daily). More recently, the property served as a backdrop for several scenes in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. Corfu Town has tons of restaurants and cafés, making it the easiest place to stay if you're only here for a bit. The waterfront is dominated by a grassy esplanade called the Spaniada, which includes a cricket ground and is ringed by the Liston—a gorgeous stone pedestrian walkway that's the best place to while away the afternoon with a glass of wine. For shopping, head to M. Theotok Square and the streets around the church of St. Spyridon.
Beaches! Yes, Corfu has dozens, but they're a pebbly bunch. The best are Glyfada, a sceney favorite of wealthy Greeks; Sidari, which has rock formations such as the hyped Canal D'Amour (where the cliffs form a canyon in the sea that you can swim through—very romantic); and rocky Paleokastritsa, overlooked by a cliff-top monastery whose museum contains what monks claim is the skeleton of a sea monster.
See + Do
Athens 10558, Greece
Tel: 30 210 321 4172, Tel: 30 210 321 0219
The entire hill is the Acropolis; the 5th-century B.C. temple to Athena Parthenos is the Parthenon. Try to arrive early for less heat and fewer crowds; you can always return, because admission allows you back in anytime the same day. And whatever you do, don't pick up any stones (remember the tourist arrest in spring 2004?). Wear your comfiest shoes and lots of sunscreen—the climb is pretty relentless and there isn't much shade—and take your bathroom break beforehand (the facilities at the top aren't exactly up to the demand). A barely advertised elevator for wheelchair users has existed on the north face since August 2004. The approaches from the south and west sides—Apostolou Pavlou and Dionysiou Areopagitou—have been recently improved, widened, pedestrianized, and generally beautified, making the whole experience much sweeter.
Open daily 8 am to sunset, mid-April through October; open daily 8 am to 4:30 pm, November through early-April.