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Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

Greece - Ionian Islands - Zakynthos, Kefalonia, Lefkada and Corfu

GREECE | Monday, 4 July 2016 | Views [1699]

Shipwreck beach

Shipwreck beach

The Ionian islands, (Zakynthos, Kefalonia, Lefkada & Corfu), Greece - the most amazing shades of blue ever, seriously!

Before we begin, there are 5 things to know about the Ionian Islands:

1.You are going to see the most beautiful, incredible shades of blue in the world, apologies to the Caribbean, Thailand, Australia, the Philippines etc;
2.Most of the bluest, beautiful places are far, far, freaking far away from the places you will be staying, the distances are enormous between places as the islands are HUGE. To see the blue places you need to hire a scooter, a car or do a boat tour. Your local beach will, most likely, be an average to poor pebble/dark sand beach;
3.the logistics involved in “island hopping” are absolutely insane, even for a super “master” of logistics like Papa. Frequently there are no buses, sometimes just one per day not connecting with any of the others, the ferry connections are also very complicated. In many cases you need to go back to the mainland and in extreme cases, you pay 90 Euros for a taxi to make sure you get somewhere in time to get to your ferry, always leaving from the other side of the bloody island!
4.Many of the Studios owners do NOT speak any English, we communicate thanks to Papa’s greek, good boy! Also, it is very hard to find anybody around between 2 and 7PM in case you need anything, be self sufficient and/or pre-empt your needs as much as you can… seriously!
5.Most of the constructions on the islands are new (except for Corfu Town) as a couple of earthquakes destroyed most of the original architecture, so, sometimes you feel you could be in Greece or anywhere else, we missed the whitewashed villas and sun-baked monasteries from the Cyclades but hey, we got to swim in the bluest waters ever, got photos to prove it!

Zakynthos - Well, 6 days later we leave lovely Malta and our host Ken takes us to the airport, nice guy. After a short Olympic Airlines flight we arrive in Athens. Then, after a one hour bus ride, another 5 hour bus ride, a one hour ferry ride and a 20 minute taxi ride, we arrive at Antonio Studios on Zakynthos Island, Greece. The studio is big and comfortable, 5 minutes from the town of Alykanas and 10 minutes walk from Alykes & Alykanas beaches. The beach is nice and long and great for walking, swimming and suntanning. Well, let the beach bumming begin! It is very interesting that, lots of bars and hotels here have public (free) swimming pools and sun beds, so it is absolutely fantastic, after a few hours on the beach, we retreat to a pool for a bit of shade while drinking a pint of cold Mythos for 2 Euros, unbeatable!

We’ve got 10 days on Zakynthos, so we can can mix up working on our tan with sightseeing. After a couple of days and a “very complex” research process, we finally pick a boat tour that sounds a bit less terribly crowded and loud. We pick “the Golden Dolphin” 4 hour tour. Shipwreck beach is just amazing, the most incredible shades of blue we’ve ever seen. Then we progress to the stunning Blue Caves, then Agios Nikolao Port and its lovely beach coves and finally we visit Xygia Beach with its allegedly medicinal waters. The tour is very nice, the boat fits 60 people but there are around 35 of us, we paid 20 Euros per person and we totally recommend it. Well, still on the topic of recommendation, we had some simple but tasty and generous meals at Nikos Restaurant, next door to Plessas Palace Hotel. The prices are very good, friendly family service and the beer is big and cold. The bill also always comes 1 or 2 beers short and we keep having to remind them to add them to the bill, they love us for that!

After a couple more days of alternating between beach and pool, we decide to hire a scooter and see the rest of the island. We get a very good deal with Madio’s Rentals (10 Euro when almost everywhere else is charging 20 Euros). Madio’s place is just next door to the Bliss Bar, also not a bad place for a cold beer, a dip in the public free pool and reading and relaxing on their nice free sun beds. Our bike trip itinerary covers lovely villages and monasteries, Pigadakia and villages to Macherado, Kiliomeno, Agios Leon, Porto Limnionas bay, Anafonitria, Shipwreck view from above, Amoudi, Psarou etc beaches, Tsilivi and Zakynthos town. On the way back we come off the bike and a very nice young Greek guy who works at a hotel comes to our rescue. He takes the bike off the road, shows us where to wash our battered knees and applies that red liquid disinfectant which will “stay” with us till we leave this island and then some. Awesome guy! The guy from Madio’s Rentals also is more worried about our knees than the scratches on the bike, and we don’t need to pay anything, only in Greece, my friends, only in Greece... We both got our knees badly bruised and Paul also hurt his foot, so, we chill out for the next 3 days and try to recover, just pleased it wasn’t as bad as we first thought and that we did all of our sightseeing before today. It is no worries when you are on a 3 month holiday!


Kefalonia - we take a taxi back to the port and after a ferry ride and another taxi, we arrive at Petros Studios in Poros (32 euros a night). The flat is very nice and Memi, the owner is very friendly and chatty (what a surprise). The flat is 20 metres from the beach and has a beautiful, big swimming pool. The beach is beautiful but it is a pebble beach, good for swimming but not so good for walking or sunbathing, no worries, we got a pool. We take the first few days to chill and heal our scabby knees and feet and enjoy a bit of swimming and sunbathing. We also find two very good restaurants, one of them, Steki, becomes our new “regular”.

As soon as we feel good again, we hire a scooter (shock therapy?) for two days and we can finally see how beautiful Kefalonia really is. We begin with Samos & Antisamos beach, a long stretch of pebbles but still not the shades of blue we are looking for. We go to visit the Melissani Caves, a complex of caves with underground ocean water. We jump on a little boat and the boat goes around the caves. The shades of blue are amazing and the water is so incredibly clear. The boat ride goes for around 10 minutes and costs 7 Euros. The guy on the boat tells the story about the place and also takes photos of the passengers, definitely worth the trip. Next stop, Agia Efimia, a very nice port town with beautiful beaches and a lovely promenade with cafes and restaurants - famous for the book/film Captain Corelli’s mandolin. From there we get to the amazing Myrtos Beach where we finally see shades of blue to rival Zakynthos. What a beautiful beach, the views from the top are just fantastic! From there, we ride all the way to Fiscardo, another lovely port town with plenty to see and do with a very Greek feeling all around. We have a couple of Mythos beers and a nice lunch before making our way back to the hotel. What a lovely day, riding a scooter is so much better when we manage to stay on top of it instead of under it! We get home with very sore bums as, we forgot to mention, this island is HUGE! Then after a couple of takeaway Gyros, we sit back and chill. The next day we ride back to Skala beach and after that to the port of Argostoli. We walk around a lot, do a bit of shopping and return the bike to go back to a bit of R & R in our last few days. Whatever else you do on this island do not miss a drive or ride around the mountains and the coast, it’s just breathtaking!


Lefkada - After 10 days on Kefalonia, we take a 90 Euro taxi ride back to Fiscardo, (yes, you heard it!) a ferry to Nidri, and after a short bus ride, we arrive at Vasiliki, Lefkada. We check in at the Zotos Studios, a large, bright and very comfortable flat (45 Euros) and get ready to explore this island. The waterfront promenade is beautiful, with shops, cafes, restaurants and lots of boats and yachts, the architecture is a bit more original as the earthquakes probably had less impact over here. Our local beach is, again, not the most exciting but we will reserve our judgement until we see the rest of the island as we already know the deal.

We spend 6 days on Lefkada and after a few days chilling we hire a car and get to see some of it. We visit Porto Katsiki and a few other beaches, Lefkada Town and then we drive to the mainland to visit the charming and vibrant village of Parga, highly recommended! After another day of chilling, we do a boat trip to the amazingly blue Agiofili Beach. Now it is time to pack our bags and head to the next island of Corfu, our last of the Ionian Islands.

Corfu -  after an hour bus ride, another 5 hour bus ride, and a ferry ride, almost 13 hours on the road, we get picked up by our studios owner, the very friendly and chatty (but only in Greek) Prokopios. We will stay at Nefeli Villas in Agios Georgios, for only 3 days. The studios are comfortable and the couple who own it is very nice. They only speak Greek to us and, while Paul understands most or at least some of it, I just kind of “sit there and look pretty” if a bit sweaty. Yeah, I’m still on the “thank you, please, how are you, good morning/evening, very nice/well” stage. Well, we are staying in Agia Georgios South Beach for just 3 days while we wait to move to our studio on Marathias beach. To tell the truth, Agia Giorgios is a very ugly stretch of beach. The ocean is less than OK by Greek standards and the sand is almost black (missing the pebbles already?). We get cranky almost immediately but hey, it is only 3 days and at least there is Greek wine and Mythos beer.

After 3 days, Prokopios drives us to Marathias Beach, just 6 kms away and what a difference, it’s sandy and nice. We check in at the Basilika Haus, 35 Euros, and the studio is not very nice. The walls are painted “haematoma” purple and the bathroom has seen much better days. It is very close to the nice beach but apart from a few restaurants and bars, there is not much around. We try to move places but everywhere is fully booked. The owner, who doesn’t speak a word of English is not happy to give us a full refund, the joys of high season travelling! Anyway, we got 14 days here and we decide to make it work!

Next morning we hire a scooter and go shopping for food & wine and in the afternoon we visit Kerkyra (Corfu Town). It is a nice venetian town but there are two cruise ships and people can barely walk around. The next day, we visit the beaches all the way to Paleokastritsa, some nice but none even near the ones we saw on the other Ionian Islands. Now, for some serious beach time as for a few days we do what everyone else does, rent 2 sunbeds and an umbrella for 5 Euros and spend the days reading and swimming. We also tried to do a boat trip to Paxos and Anti Paxos but due to very strong winds, the trips were cancelled, well, more beach time for us!

 

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