I first wrote this blog for ‘Saga Navigator’ but I also thought that you might enjoy it!
“Kefalonia… an island so immense in antiquity that the very rocks themselves exhale nostalgia…” wrote author Louis de Bernières about the island he chose for the setting of the iconic novel and film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I first visited in the summer of 2013 and immediately fell in love with its laid back atmosphere and captivating history. I just wanted to share some of the highlights of my trip…
The largest of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia still retains that feel of being untouched by mass tourism. Its unusual shape offers lends itself well to many idyllic pebble and sand beaches which offer the perfect nesting site for the threatened logger head turtles, while its mountainous interior is carpeted in pine trees and offers fantastic walking opportunities with the reward of some spectacular views over the island.
My favourite area of the island and often referred to as the ‘St Tropez’ of Kefalonia the pretty, tranquil fishing village of Fiskardo is a magnet for the rich and famous. Built into the Ionian rock, – it was left virtually undamaged after the devastating earthquake of 1953, so you can see some stunning original Venetian architecture. Why not sit and have a coffee in one of the harbour side cafes, pop on your sunglasses and admire the luxury super-yachts moored alongside traditional fishing boats in the marina?
I visited the Melissani caves for a boat trip without knowing what to expect, but when I arrived I found myself taken aback by the beautiful, crystal clear water. I visited in the heat of the midday sun, and found myself extremely grateful for the coolness of the caves. The sun poured through the open roof of the first chamber turning the water a beautiful shade of turquoise and pooling the walls in blue light, giving the cave an ethereal quality. I later learnt that legend has it the nymph Melassanthi committed suicide in the cave because her love for the God, Pan, was not shared. This otherworldly feature is augmented as the light gives the illusion that the boats are floating above rather than on the water. The second chamber is dark but has a huge number of moss-covered stalactites and stalagmites. This remarkable cave was unlike any other I had visited before and it is a real must-see on any holiday to Kefalonia.
The capital of Kefalonia, Argostoli, is a large, bustling town with plenty to see and do. I enjoyed exploring the cobbled streets perusing the market stalls for locally made gifts; I can highly recommend the Kefallonian olive oil, as it made for the perfect souvenir! It also has an attractive tree-lined promenade which leads to a small ferry harbour, where you can catch the ferry to Lixouri or watch the locals unload their daily catch of fresh fish. There is also a charming archaeological museum which houses hundreds of artefacts from the Mycenaean, Hellenistic and the Roman period.
Voted as one of the most dramatic and most beautiful beaches in Greece, Myrtos beach is a striking one-and-a-half mile long white pebbled beach situated at the bottom of sheer limestone cliffs. Popular year round with budding photographers, during the summer season it is a haven for sun worshippers. I enjoyed it as the perfect spot to watch the iconic Ionian sunset while sipping on a cold glass of champagne.