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Candid Discovers Greece
November 30, 2015
As the weather dips in London, we hark back to the summer months, when we visited Kefalonia and Ithaca with Discover Greece. The Ionian isles, situated just off the western coast, really are bathed in swathes of emerald and turquoise with pristine beaches – the jealousy-inducing kind that you send to family via postcard. When we touched down in Kefalonia aboard Aegean Airlines, we were warmly welcomed to a charming backdrop that once played host to the filming of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, but we would have to wait until the morning sunlight rose to fully soak in the scene.
Following a feast of a breakfast at the stacked with Greek delicacies including smoked pork, Greek pancakes and strong coffee at Apollonion Resort & Spa, we made our way to the subterranean Lake Melissani – a blue pool canopied by the earth with a huge skylight formed from a collapsed cave roof where nymphs were once worshipped. It was staggeringly beautiful and our Greek adventure was only just starting. Next stop was the Cave of Drogarati – a buried abyss complete with stalactites and stalagmites – not for the claustrophobic, but an absolute work of geologic art.
Boarding another boat, we made our way to the island of Ithaca and our first port of call was lunch. Hitting a traditional tayerna, our favourite dish was sofrito (fried sliced veal with garlic and parsley sauce) and bourdeto, a spicy fish dish cooked in a tomato base, all washed down with tsitsibirra (ginger beer).
Stomachs full and happy, we explored the Venetian and Neoclassical old-style architecture of Vathi, Ithaca’s capital – a wash of natural white stone hues is the result of a 1978 law that prohibits use of colour, however, most buildings are topped with red tiles, lending to a classic Mediterranean look. History side note: in mythological times, Ithaca was home to Odysseus; the same Odysseus that Homer refers to in the Odyssey, and a commanding dual-sided sculpture stands tall in the Port of Ithaca in his honour. However, the stand-out spot for us on Ithaca was Kioni Bay, and we’ll definitely be back, but by sailboat. The listed fishing village almost takes you back to the 16th century with the stone buildings, small shops and cafés and that signature aquamarine sea.
Island-hopping back to Kefalonia, we were invited to a wine tasting at Gentilini, a family-owned premium vineyard that produces three ranges: Modern, Premium and Limited Release. Wine has been made on the island for centuries and we would definitely recommend exploring Gentilini’s offering, especially the Gentilini Eclipse – a rich and complex red, made from Kefalonia’s own Mavrodaphne grape.
Kefalonia’s capital, Argostoli, boasts arresting Venetian Colonial architecture and its archaeological museum reminds you why Greece is considered part of the cradle of civilization with its impressive collection of pre-historic to Roman artifacts and antiquities. We went on a further walk through history at the ruins of Saint George’s Castle – erected by the Byzantines in the 1100s, refurbished, for lack of a better word, by the Venetians in the early 1500s.
A final dinner in the seaside village of Fiskardo capped off the journey. Fresh fish and seafood, accompanied with Greek wines set us to slumber at the Lassi Hotel in preparation for our reluctant return to London.
For more information of booking a trip to Greece, please visit Discover Greece.
Words by Rose Stewart