Kefalonia – A Greek Odyssey

I’ve just returned from the Greek Island of Kefalonia – my second visit in three years. Normally I blog my travels but this was a family affair so I didn’t have enough time to myself, or indeed any guarantee of WiFi connectivity. Instead, with the tan fading and a glass of Ouzo over ice at my side here is my attempt to capture the essence of the island in visual form.

The Island
Kefalonia sits in the northern Ionian island chain west of Mainland Greece within easy sailing distance of the heel of Italy. The island was the setting for the book/film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Like all Greek islands there are fine views, plenty of sunshine and a great quality of light at either end of the day.

Sami beach life
Sami beach life
View from Assos harbour
View from Assos harbour
Myrtos Beach
Myrtos Beach
Assos Waterfront
Assos Waterfront
Sunset from my balcony
Sunset from my balcony
What's up there?
What\’s up there?
Tim's going to see the fishes
Tim\’s going to see the fishes
Nightfall over Lixouri
Nightfall over Lixouri

There’s a lot more to Kefalonia however. There is a delightfully cool cave at Drogerati, a stunning deep blue pool in the open roofed Mellisani cave and the Robola vinyards and winery where disconcertingly a Yorkshireman runs the wine tasting sessions.

Drogarati cave
Drogarati cave
Mellisani cave
Mellisani cave
Grapes at the winery
Grapes at the winery

The commanding castles at Assos and Agios Giorgious allude to a long and turbulent history.

View from Kastro
View from Kastro

1953 and all that
The defining post-war moment came in 1953 when an earthquake destroyed many buildings on the island. The legacy of this day remains visible in many locations and old people will still clearly remember the moment when the world changed for them

Now it only clangs
Now it only clangs
It's a church of two halves
It\’s a church of two halves
Legacy of the 53 quake
Legacy of the 53 quake

Daily Life
Tourism remains important to the island but there’s plenty more going on. Whenever I travel anywhere it is the local way of life that appeals most, ahead of any concessions to tourism. It was refreshing to see people living life in the slow lane, taking the time to stop and talk to neighbours in the shade. You want fruit you go to the fruit stall. You want fish you go to the fisherman.

Fresh fish
Fresh fish
Passing the time
Passing the time
Honey for sale
Honey for sale
Nice big melons
Nice big melons

I saw many churches and plenty of roadside shrines to various saints, kept fresh and lit at night time by souls unknown.

Roadside shrine
Roadside shrine
Kerb crawling monk
Kerb crawling monk

Plants and Creatures
In contrast to some of the more desertified islands further south Kefalonia is relatively green and fertile. Many people grow their own fruit (oranges, lemons, figs, etc) and vegetables. On my previous visit I drove through mountain villages stuck behind a lorry that at first glance appeared to be selling produce to people by the side of the road. It soon dawned on me that people were flagging down the lorry to sell their own excess produce for resale elsewhere.

One of the highlights on this visit was the sight of a friendly turtle that was a regular visitor to the quayside in Argostoli. I would imagine the fellow is considerably older than me.

Neither mutant or ninja
Neither mutant or ninja
Lizard point
Lizard point

Sami Bay
Sami Bay

Getting about
Greece is an island nation and I saw plenty of boats arriving from places like Corfu, Athens, Patras and Brindisi bearing Greek and Italian passengers and cars. The island capital of Argostoli is also a stopping off point for the huge cruise ships that hop from port to port around the Mediterranean.

Island Ferry
Island Ferry
Night boat to Athens
Night boat to Athens
Motoring time warp
Motoring time warp
Beat up Datsun
Beat up Datsun
End of the road?
End of the road?
Once a moped
Once a moped

Meanwhile island residents seem to prefer ancient and often battered old vehicles to the KTEL bus service that seems to provide a reasonable service, so long as you aren’t too reliant on timeliness.

Food and drink
I love Greek food and there are no shortage of tavernas selling Mousaka, Dolmades, Kleftico, Stifado, Humous, Pastichio, etc, etc. The local speciality is the lovely Kefalonian Meat Pie.

I tried the local wine (better than my home brew, but that’s not saying much) and survived largely on iced coffee and Baklava, while my nephews seemed to consume an inordinate amount of ice cream.

Local Robola wine
Local Robola wine
Iced coffee - my favourite!
Iced coffee – my favourite!
Various filo/syrup combinations
Various filo/syrup combinations
Ice Cream Impatience
Ice Cream Impatience
Glamourous Derby bar
Glamourous Derby bar
Baklava syrupy goodness
Baklava syrupy goodness

Lost in translation
Finally, here are a few adverts and menus that made me chuckle. You may need to click on the images to view the text in a readable size…

Aftershave or manifesto?
Aftershave or manifesto?
Whrimps - my favourite!
Whrimps – my favourite!
Anonymous salad
Anonymous salad
Gordon who?
Gordon who?
Its a sign peeps init
Its a sign peeps init
No regrets...
No regrets…
Hot dog
Hot dog

I feel I know Kefalonia quite well now and with so many other places I want to visit I can’t imagine myself returning for any period of time. Perhaps one day I will fly to Athens and board a ferry to Argostoli, hopping my way from island to island. I may even have digested this weeks baklava intake by then, but I doubt it.

3 thoughts on “Kefalonia – A Greek Odyssey

  1. Really enjoyed reading this blog Tim. We love Kefalonia and are heading for Aghia Efimia in September. It’s our ‘guilty pleasure’ 7 day holiday every now and then in between more adventurous exploring trips. I ALWAYS visit Assos specially to buy honey from the old man. Heart warming to see that snap.

    1. Thanks for your interesting thoughts Wendy. Especially your comments on the honey man. Greece remains a special and different place and I hope it retains some of its old world charm in this modern age. Enjoy your hols 🙂

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