A turquoise trip to Kefalonia, Greece

Mirtos beach, kefalonia greece photo by sue wellington
Can you believe the colour of the water? It's even brighter in reality.

The island of Kefalonia (pop. around 35,000) in Greece, is so classically beautiful – sun kissed, blue seas everywhere you go - in every shade of blue imaginable. Goat bells ringing in the distance along steep, stony, olive and cypress covered hills. And the charming people. You can hardly believe it.

It is located in the Ionian Sea, to the left of the ancient island of Ithaca - Odysseus 'reputed' kingdom - still argued about in universities.

  •  You will see the island written as 'Cephalonia' and in other versions too – I've stuck with the simple version.
The largest Ionian island, Kefalonia, is on the western side of mainland Greece.
Archaeological discoveries in Kefalonia go back to 40,000 years BP (before present) (wikipedia).

Cephalines is first mentioned in Homer's Illiad, where it is used to describe the subjects of Odysseus from Zakynthos, Acarnania, Ithaki and Sami. Sami is on the east coast.

The use of Cephalinia as a place name is mentioned by Herodotus (440BC) who refers to the people of Pali as Palees of Cephalinia. From Cephalonia Toubi's tourist guide

Argostoli and Lassi

We stayed in Lassi, 1 km from the Kefalonia’s capital, Argostoli (founded 1757, pop. around 10,000).
 It's a great place to stay, as you are close to the beaches and nature. Plus it’s only 20 minutes walk (or less to ride) to Argostoli harbour and the main shopping district.



  • Don’t expect to go shopping in the afternoon though. All the shops will be closed for a few hours. And it’s a fluid arrangement. You really have no idea when things open or close.
But, from our 7 days experience - basically - it’s safe to go from 9 – 2pm and then from 6pm.

Well, you're not going to Kefalonia to go shopping anyway, It's the nature, which is magnificent. But it's always nice to get a couple of trinkets.




The sun was setting over Argostoli's main shopping area. And the shops hadn't yet opened for the evening.
It was around 5pm. You can get a really nice latte here. ie. not too strong.

Deserted street in Argostoli. People disappear in the afternoons. The town is situated on a very steep hill. Many people, young and old, hurtle around the streets, (well not this street) on mopeds or motorcycles. With the substantial Argostoli wind blowing through their helmetless hair. Fun.

Just liked this cool old car and the mood with the palm trees in Argostoli shopping district..


IMG_6280
On the day we arrived, a celebration of  Greek Independence Day snaked around the harbour. People marched in their national costumes. Plus all the forces and school children in their uniforms.

IMG_6298
On the road again. Crossing over the De Bosset Bridge.
Kefalonia had been colonised starting from the Romans, then Byzantium (330 -1185), The Franks (1185 -1194) Venetian (1194 - 1797), French (1797 - 1798), British (1809 -1864) and finally unification with Greece in 1864.

Local fishermen arrive with their catch. The sea turtles gather in the mornings near the bank to get leftovers. 


Hiie on her trusty bicycle. The bicycle hire place was fantastic. Details at the end of the post.


Waiting for the tourists. 


Fantastic fresh greek food. Well except for the chips. In Sweden you get chips or pomme fritte, with absolutely everything.

IMG_6736

IMG_6671


IMG_6483
Goats, but you can hardly see them. But you can hear the sound of their bells all over the island. What a beautiful sound.


Wildflowers by the side of the road.

Beautiful religious painting on wood from the Corgialenios Foundation museum, which is at the bottom of Argostoli Library. Only open from 10am to 2pm -when we were there. But times could change. Well worth going to. It preserves the cultural, history and traditions of Kefalonia. 


IMG_6529
A tiny rocky inlet with crystal aqua water in Lassi. 



IMG_6541
View from Lassi Main Road.


Argostoli's a fantastic riding place. In fact, probably the whole island, as it's not that busy with cars.
And it's better than driving, as you can look at the scenery too.  And get fit. And stop at different spots without having to worry about carparks.
Though you've got to be reasonably fit, as the island is very hilly. But it's not the alps. You could do it (not that we tried) , but you'd probably want a health check before you did, especially with the heat.

The number of  beaches around Argostoli with soft sand are really small. Here's one. 


St Theodoros Fanari (lighthouse). Another stop on our bicycle ride around the Argostoli peninsula. The water is crystal clear.


The twisted magnificence of the olive is everywhere. 


Lassi Main Road is filled with Greek restaurants with incredible views. Most of the rental places are here as well. 


Bougainvillea cascading over Hiie.


Olive Tree. The olive tree has been cultivated in Greece since the stone and bronze age. The ancient Greek poet, Homer, once described olive oil as liquid gold.


IMG_6780
View from the Lassi Hotel in the evening.


Sea Turtles in Argostoli Harbour


One unexpected joy was discovering that Argostoli harbour has its own colony of sea turtles (caretta caretta). 

The turtles pass under the De Bosset bridge all day from the Koutavos Lagoon to Argostoli Bay and back again. 

At the moment the female turtles are off somewhere else having babies and there are 7 male turtles in the harbour. All the visitors were a bit hysterical. I mean you couldn’t help it.

We ended up visiting them every day. Hiie went twice one day.

These are not your little aquarium turtles but huge turtles. They crane their heads out of the water, like a cross between ET and a prehistoric dinosaur. You imagine it’s hello but most likely it’s air. But maybe it is hello.

We ate at the restaurant which is right next to the De Bosset bridge, where they all congregate. You can see them while you’re eating. We could swear one sea turtle said goodbye to us as we tucked into our delicious greek lunch on the last day. (we ate here 3 times, I think. The food and prices were fantastic and plus you had the sea turtles. Details at the end.)

Who could’ve guessed? They are one of the most magical creatures you’re ever going to see wild. They seemed to emanate to me wisdom. And we need it.


Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece



The sea turtles swim so gracefully and fluidly you can't believe it until you see it. It was like watching a bird flying underwater. 






Don't you love that face?



Fiskardo Bus Tour


We took the Fiskardo island day tour on the bus (there are many, many tour operators – this was just one that was recommended at the hotel and it looked fine.)

The tour did a cursory cover of the whole island, taking in Sami and the Melissani Cave, then to Assos for lunch. Then heading to Fiskardo. Mirtos for a photo stop, then back to Lassi - taking about 8 hours all up.

When the charismatic and very informative tour guide, Elvira, said that we’d be safe with Nikos, the driver, I thought ‘hmmm’. I wonder why.

Well I know why now. Kefalonia is seriously hilly. Stony hills covered in olive trees and fir and the obelisk shaped male cypress, which mark the whole island.

It was a blue day, so everywhere you looked was breathtaking views. The academics can argue all they want, but you really felt like you were in Homer’s The Odyssey.

If you could look that is. The narrow roads go right to the edge of very steep cliffs. 

Hiie couldn’t even look out half the time. And I had my eyes averted a bit too. I mean you’ve really got to be an excellent driver for this terrain. 

A few times goats appeared suddenly, lying on the road sunbaking or in the extremely narrow road side, munching on leaves, adding to the tension.

Nikos’ driving was impeccable. If you drove yourself, you seriously couldn’t take your eyes of the road, so you’re going to miss the stunning turquoise seas which are unforgettable.

And the sea really is turquoise. It’s not photoshopped.

Sami – Melissani Cave


The cypress covered hills wizzing by the bus on the way to Sami.


The Melissani cave is full of stalictites and staligmites. Some of the irridescent colour only seems to show up in the photos. I wonder why. A magical place. 

Rock textures. 

Green and blue. 


IMG_6916
One of the cave boatmen. He was singing most of the way. He very kindly took all of our photos sitting in the boat.


IMG_6920
The entrance to the cave. It's brackish water - slightly salty - a combination of sea water and rain water. The water here comes from underground streams from Argostoli and the mountains.


melissani cave kefalonia greece-web
The violet light in the cave. 


On the Way to Assos



IMG_7067
All you can say is wow!


IMG_7073
We all got out of the bus to admire the views. 


IMG_7078




IMG_7086




Assos is a tiny place - less than 100 permanent residents. Many houses are empty and falling down. It is a common site all over the island. According to the tour guide, supposedly after the 1953 earthquake, half the population of Kefalonia left.


IMG_7173
Restaurants at the waterfront in Assos. It's just so stunning when you're sitting there, you can barely believe it.


Just someone's old stone fence with a collection of plants. Who doesn't love the colour of bougainvillea? 


house with view of sea on assos greece photo by sue wellington
I just love the way you're walking up the street and through the spaces between houses you see the distant blue sea.

View of harbour with boat, Assos, Kefalonia, Greece photo by Sue Wellington
The tiny harbour in Assos. Endless beautiful views on Kefalonia.

Woman walking along street in Assos, Greece photo by Sue Wellington
Just walking..


Assos Harbour with castle, Greece photo by Sue Wellington
You can see Assos Castle in the top right corner. The bus tour stopped here for 2 hours and we ran out of time to climb to the top after having lunch. Probably a better idea to do it before you eat.

view of Assos, Kefalonia, Greece cliff and water photo by sue wellington
You walk up the hill to Assos castle and then on the other side of the street is this view. The whole of Kefalonia is like this. You come around the bend and there's another magnificent vista.


assos harbour kefalonia greece photo by sue wellington
Fancy a dip!

Fiskardo


Fiskardo Harbour and restaurants.


Colourful Cafe stairs in Fiskardo, Kefalonia



Coffee at the pink cafe.


Motorcycle symmetry.



IMG_7312
The poor dog really didn't want to go.

IMG_7191
Gotta have some ice cream.

Mirtos Beach


Mirtos beach, kefalonia greece photo by sue wellington
The famous Mirtos beach. down below.


Only a few sunbaking dots on the beach - it was about 26 degrees that day.
The beach sand is actually stony, though it doesn't look it.
Normally the bus tour we were on drives to the beach, but they're fixing the road. Next time.


On the Way to Lixouri


IMG_7499
Hiie on the ferry from Argostoli harbour to Lixouri, It's about half an hour. over the Argostoli Gulf. Not far.
Supposedly the two towns are arch enemies as Argostoli was made the capital of Kefalonia in 1757 much to Lixouri's annoyance.

Elephant ride Lixouri Kefalonia Greece photo by sue wellington
Bright colours of the childrens rides in the deserted Lixouri town square.

Hotel stone fountain of a goddess with horses. 


beach at lixouri, kefalonia greece photo by sue wellington
At Lixouri beach. This is not one of the popular beaches in Lixouri - I heard - but it's closest to the harbour.
As the pine trees grow on the beach there were a lot of pine cones everywhere (which is probably why there's not that many people). 

This was just an abandoned boat, at the back of the beach, which caught my eye. 

cat on stairs lixouri, kefalonia, greece photo by sue wellington
Cats are shy in Kefalonia. 


old stone flower pedestal photo by sue wellington
I expected to see more ancient monuments and buildings etc. But Kefalonia is in an earthquake zone. A major earthquake was suffered in Kefalonia in 1953. All of Kefalonia's buildings were flattened except in Fiskardo.
The last earthquake was in 2014. The archaeological museum in Argostoli was damaged as a result of the one in 2014, so it's closed for a while. 

Details




  • Rent a bike Kefalonia  (Pilarinou St 1, Argostoli tel 0030 26710 26602) bikes from 6 euros per day. Great prices here and the guys here were so helpful and friendly. Plus they bring the bikes to wherever you are.


  • Good pocket road map - Nakas Road Cartography Best of Kefalonia Ithaca Map and Guide www.road.gr


  • The restaurant at the start of the De Bosset bridge, Argostoli - on the corner. It's been going since 1921. Fantastic tasty, fresh local food. We went 3 times. And you get the sea turtles out the front. Ph  +30 26710 28012


  • Dolphin Supermarket - lovely people here to do your mail and shopping. Lassi main road.


  •  Sto Psito Restaurant Beautiful views of Argostoli Gulf  in a country setting. Traditional Kefalonian greek food. And mediterranean cuisine. Very nice food and lovely, lovely staff. On the road to Fanari, Argostoli. Tel:  +30 26710 25306


Extras



Comments

Popular Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...