Think of Kefalonia and most people think of the Louis de Bernieres novel, Captain Corellis’ Mandolin set on the island during WWII. However, we managed to pass a whole week with little or no reference to the eponymous stringed instrument. We did, however, see one or two monuments to the Greek partisans who fought the Nazis so bravely. The commemorative inscription below describes one such group who jumped off a cliff in Ithaca, into Homer’s ‘wine dark sea,’ to seize control of a German vessel.
It seems that everywhere you go in Greece there are memories of the second world war. Is this because the ensuing dictatorship gave no time for the country to enjoy their freedom and therefore no time to recover? I was struck by the unbelievable bravery shown by some occupied people in resisting that occupation.
But, that aside, we are here for a holiday and to enjoy ourselves and, despite the weight of history, the Greek Islands are my favourite place for relaxing and letting the world drift by.
Kefalonia is probably the prettiest Greek islands I’ve ever visited. Unfortunately one of the reasons it is so pretty is because it gets a lot of rain and our holiday week was no exception.
The second day we were there; it poured down! Luckily we were able to spend much of it in one restaurant or another…
We stayed at the Odysseas apartments (the building second right in the photo) owned by the enthusiastic and helpful Stavroula and her husband (Tel; +30 2674 041023 or book through www.sunvil.co.uk/holidays/greece/kefalonia/north-kefalonia/accommodation or through www.ownersdirect.co.uk/Greece ). Nothing is too much trouble. One afternoon we returned to the apartment to find a plate of freshly baked cakes on the table. Stavroula had baked for every one of her tenants! The apartments were beautifully looked after, with a lovely terrace and great views.
The apartments were based just yards away from two ancient roman sites which we spent some time exploring.
Fiscardo is an excellent base for walking and there are three well marked walks of varying lengths starting from the harbour or very near.
The first is a brisk half hour promenade along the far end of the harbour (from our apartments) through woodland to an old lighthouse and to a ruined Byzantine church. On another day we started walking from the car park at the back of town to an old deserted village and back along the coast to the lovely little bay of Foki. one of the most interesting sites on this route, very near the start, is the Queen’s Throne, just opposite Fiscardo’s one and only (well, that I could find) nightclub. The throne may be natural or it may be, as legend has it, the ancient queen’s court. Whatever the truth it is a surreal and beautiful site, made more strange by the unusual wooden structure, part of the nightclub, constructed just yards away.
The third walk was the longestand most interesting walk starting from the Queen’s Throne but continuing towards the north coast of the island through the villages of Psilithrias, Germanata, Antipata to the gun emplacement just above Dafnoudi beach. This walk also took in two beautiful bays, Kimilia and Embilisi. While Embilisi is easily accessible by car from Fiscardo, Kimilia, whichever way you approach it, takes a bit of getting to and is surrounded by forests of Mastic trees inhabited by elusive Jays (heard but never seen!) and, so I’m told, strange snakes (luckily also never seen).
All of these walks are clearly marked and the start indicated by Boards dotted about the harbour. You can also pick up a leaflet from the Sunvil rep’s office on the main harbour road, in the building opposite Lagoudera 2 restaurant or from http://www.fiscardo.com.
And, having mentioned the lovely Lagoudera 2 restaurant, I have to say that my favourite restaurant in Fiscardo was Lagoudera the original, a little way in from the harbour, the only eatery that seemed full of locals. The menu was a bit more limited than some of the excellent harbour restaurants but food was delicious. The Spanokopita, for instance, was, for once, more spinach than pastry. In fact it contained more spinach than even this Popeye fan could eat.
Other notable restaurants were;
Irida’s; damask tablecloths, extensive menu and very tasty dishes. We ate here early in the holiday and decided it was so good that we returned on our last night.
Elli’s; meat eaters liked the pork chops here, I loved the courgette balls and gigantes.
Tessia; lovely food but a little bit of cat trouble- the cats weren’t badly behaved but one of the (English?) diners took exception to me shooing one of them away from my vegetarian fare. Didn’t she know it’s bad for cats?
And, lastly, it wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t mention the bog. Toilets were, of course, Greek toilets and all were, by definition, lacking the ability to deal with toilet paper without backing up. It takes a bit of getting used to but all the loos we used were clean and functional, even the airport loos.