Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Lefkada - Part Two

Wednesday 7th May 2008

Our Island Hopping trip today started at Nidri a large village 5 kilometres south of our hotel. Our boat was the Nicholaos, was a nice and quite modern. The weather was a bit iffy, a bit of cloud, and we weren’t sure how the day would pan out.

We set sail for the island of Meganisi at 9.40am and pulling out of Nidri we could see what a lovely location it was, the village was backed with craggy mountains and a green, mountainous promontory reaching out from the mainland and wrapping itself around the bay making a large natural harbour.

On the way to Meganisi we passed numerous green islands, and in the distance peaks of the Greek mainland, Ithaca and Kefalonia. We sailed down the western side of Meganisi , which apart from 3 villages on the north of the island, is quite wild. We were headed to a cave towards the south of the island. We were able to sail right in, the resident seal that is regularly seen there was resting on the little beach inside, but put to flight very quickly as the boat chugged in disturbing her rest. It was pretty inside with very blue and clear water and amazing striations and rock formations that looked almost like abstract art.

After this we sailed back up the coast of Meganisi, we saw wild goats scampering on the steep cliffs topped by verdant greenery that characterised the coastline. We sailed into a picturesque bay on the north of the island which had a village perched high above it. Joanna said it was a pretty, traditional Greek village, Spartochori, and we could walk up to it if we wanted. Seeing how high it was I wasn’t sure but decided to go because it sounded lovely. The first part up a fairly steep road with lots of hairpin bends wasn’t too bad, but then came steps, a lot of them! Hard work but we got up there and the view down to the harbour and beyond was stunning.

The village was lovely, very Greek with lots of colour and whitewashed walls. Narrow, winding cobbled streets , cats lying silently in the warm sun, that peace and quietness was so relaxing, such a different world from my own. I could have wandered through those narrow winding streets for hours, but we didn't have much spare time.

We had a drink in the Lakis taverna, where we would be returning the following night for a Greek evening. We were pleased to hear that Joanna has a deal with the one local taxi to take people up to the village from the harbour - so no traipsing uphill again!

We slowly made our way down the hill admiring the view as we did. It was so much easier going down! We reached the pretty little harbour and got on board the Nicholaos once more.

The Nicholaos headed further round the craggy coast of Meganisi to the beautiful Bay of Atherinos where we were going to have our barbecue. The bay was like an angular horseshoe in shape with a sandy, pebbly beach, with very little shade. There was a ruinous taverna there, otherwise there was nothing else of man's making.

We stayed there for two and a half hours just chilling out on the beach with no others there except our tour. Our lunch was cooked on the beach by the crew and the captain's auntie, consisted of tsatsiki, Greek salad, pork kebabs and bread, it was delicious. It was all very relaxing, no sound except birds, the sea and the quiet murmuring of the people.

We then headed back towards Lefkada, we circled the island of Skorpios, bought by Aristotle Onassis in the early 60’s and still owned by his sole heir, grand-daughter Athina. Though she lives in Argentina now and hardly ever visits. But there are still staff employed to keep the island and it’s houses ticking over, some actually living on the island - just in case she decides to visit. Cushy job or what?!

We saw the port with beautiful mosaics that Aristotle had built and the two speedboats that were owned by his now deceased children, Alexander and Christina, were still docked there as if they were both still alive, suspended in time. A little creepy I thought.

We pulled into one of the few places “outsiders” are allowed to, near the church where Aristotle, Alexander and Christina are buried. We couldn’t go further than the tiny beach so I didn’t bother getting off the boat. By now the weather had become cloudy and a cold wind was blowing - it was freezing and everyone just wanted to head back to Nidri. Joanna brought up stones from the beach for us who had stayed on board as they are considered lucky, a sweet thought, she was a really nice woman and a good rep. Mercifully the stop was short and in no time we were in Nidri, and the taxi was waiting for us to go back to our hotel.

Thursday 8th May 2008

Woke up feeling dreadful, I had a migraine from hell and felt really sick - the last thing I wanted on holiday as I know it isn’t just a few hours and done with. I blamed the extra strong cocktail I had last night even though I,d got some coke to water it down.

I felt awful all day, vomited a few times and didn’t leave the room. In the meantime Joanna had rung to cancel the Greek Night trip for that night as there weren’t enough people booked to make it worth going. I was so pleased - I knew I wasn’t well enough to go and this way we didn’t lose any money!

Saturday 10 May 2008

Our last full day in Lefkada and I felt much better and I had my first proper meal at breakfast for two days. We noticed the dining room was much busier, gradually over the week more people were arriving, but it was still not over busy which is what we like!

Soon we were sitting in a taxi heading for the nearest large village called Nidri to do some shopping. I felt like a prisoner let out of jail! It was so nice to feel well again and leave our hotel and see new sights. I thought I might last an hour or two shopping before I felt tired due to being a bit weak having been so ill and not eating, but we actually managed to shop for four hours before thinking that might be enough!

Nidri is a large village, along the main street are a few hundred yards of tourist shops interspersed with local shops and tavernas that the locals frequent. Just off the main street, were houses, one of which had a very vociferous African Grey parrot on the little balcony trying to get everyone‘s attention! It wasn’t over the top tourist-wise and still had the feel of a Greek village, though I suppose in high season it would have a different “feel”.

We walked through one of the narrow lanes leading from the main street to the harbour area which was lined with tavernas. We picked one and had a drink there looking out at the lovely view. The harbour was lined with yachts, a few tourist boats, and fishing boats. Almost opposite was the hilly, green promontory that juts out into the sea south of Nidri and loops round creating a large bay. Just offshore is the island of Madouri - turtle island. It was very relaxing sitting there watching life go by.

After a while we looked for a taxi to take us back to the Ionian Blue. It took us quite a while to find one, there don’t seem to be many! We eventually ended up with the man who had brought us to Nidri - maybe he's the only taxi in the village!

We got back to our hotel and changed and went down to my favourite part of the hotel, the broadwalks by the sea, to relax for a while. I love it down there, all you can hear is the sea and birds. Then we went for a swim in the gorgeous, modern indoor pool which was very warm and relaxing, a good way to chill out after a long day shopping!

We got dressed up for dinner that night as it was our last night and then went to the bar lounge. Julie had a champagne cocktail and I played safe and just had water!

Sunday 11th May 2008

Our last day. I always hate it when you lose your hotel room, I feel homeless! We had to vacate by 12 noon and before leaving I had one last look at that gorgeous view from our balcony, I know I’ll never have a hotel room view like that again, in all it's different moods, it was perfect.

Our pick up was on time and it was a pleasant 40 minute journey back to Aktion airport at Preveza. We checked in and went through to departures and waited for boarding. It is a quiet airport, and I noticed inbetween the runways that the grass had been cut and rolled in big bales, just as if it was a farmer’s field and not an airport!

Our flight roared into the blue sky and we left Lefkada behind. I loved the island, loved the fact it was not too touristy, that life had a slow pace. It made me realise that our lives here in the UK are very controlled in comparison. I didn’t see any CCTV cameras. It all felt more “human” in a way. I know things feel different when you are on holiday and there will be problems in Lefkada, it won’t be perfect. But it made me think of my bustling life, rushing about, stuck in traffic jams, watched by CCTV, lost without mobile phones and computers and how we are controlled in almost everything we do. It did me good to get away from all that for a short while.

I know I'll often look back and think of Lefkada, the blue sea and sky, the mountains that turn pink in the evening. The warmth of the Greek people, the swallows swooping and gliding, the rainbow colours of the flowers. We had chosen this island for our holiday because we had not
heard of it, and it turned out that Lefkada was truly a hidden gem in the sapphire blue Ionian Sea.

If you want to view all my photos from Lefkada please follow this link:

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