THE JEWELS OF THE IONIAN SEA – Kefalonia, Zante, Ithaca, Corfu, Paxos, Lefkada, Cythera and Omfori.
Of course, the island of Kefalonia’s beauty is as well known as those crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea. Sea and land – a partnership as old as time are the magical ingredients.
Practically every photo of a great view taken on Kefalonia has the sea as its focus or the sea will be in there somewhere; in the background or peeping out from behind that hill. Beyond the sea – more land. More islands. That’s just how it is! The temptation is to ‘go look’. Don’t resist the temptation! You will be well rewarded.
TRAVELLING AROUND THE IONIAN SEA
Wonderful times and adventures are just waiting to be had on the other islands: on Zakynthos, Ithaca, Lefkada, and Corfu. An extra bonus to these voyages of discovery is the method of travel – Greek ferries. Greek Ferries are invariably efficient, clean, on time and reliable. No question. And they take your car – with absolutely no fuss at all.
Although connected in many ways, every island is distinctive, an entity each with their particular histories, characters, flavours, culinary delights and terrains. As in Kefalonia, every island has huge variations in geography.
Something people may not immediately think of: there are large area of wetlands in Greece. Both Lefkada, Zakynthos and Kefalonia as well as the mainland have wetland areas.
So take your pick.
There are mountains, wetlands, olives, vineyards, villages, harbours, farms, busy towns and a marvellous amount of wilderness. And Kefalonia is a great place to start.
PLAN A TRIP
So what about a holiday within a holiday – when staying at The Walnut Tree? Sami has a stationery and book shop (Mammouth – just at the beginning of Sami by the turn to Aghia Efimia and The Walnut Tree) with maps and travel books, as well as books on flora and fauna. While away a few hours planning a trip. Then return to the villa to recover! Makes sense!
Lefkada is almost not an island. The way off (and on, of course) is a causeway and a bridge to the mainland. And what a brilliant bridge it is – a Floating Bridge! If you want to use it for your lorry, van, car, bicycle – there it is. If you want to use the waterway for your boat, then the bridge politely moves out of the way. Endless entertainment just watching the well oiled activity. There is a serious fort (Castle of Santa Maura) to explore right there as well. Always something for everyone in Greece.
Leaving Lefkada and travelling north, the lagoons of Amvrakikos Wetlands National Park are well worth a visit. At various times of the year one can see flamingos, pelicans, water buffalo and an astonishing variety of birds both migratory and resident,
Once on the mainland (if you were travelling north to visit Corfu for instance), there are so many interesting places to visit: Octavius’s Nicopolis (his city built to honour his triumph over Cleopatra and Anthony at the Battle of Actium), the Ladies of Zalongo (a sculpture to the memory of 60 brave Souliote women and children and their mass suicide, escaping Ottoman soldiers in the Greek War of Independence in 1803).
Note from Celia: for us, best of all was the chance discovery of ‘hidden away’ Kassope, a Greek city state of incredible sophistication, just below the Zalongo scultpture. This place completely fascinated us. It’s extraordinary serene atmosphere and sheer beauty has never left us.
Corfu Town is truly a city and endlessly fascinating. It’s vibrancy is palpable from the moment you set foot in the centre of the town. There are two ancient forts, beautiful churches and grand civic buildings, a bustling shopping area (the shops with leather articles are a must), a great variety of mouth watering restaurants and bars, the cricket pitch, the beautiful buildings lining the water front; my photos do not do it justice.
The photos below are taken in and around Paleokastritsa.
Ithaca, the nearest island to Kefalonia. Ithaca is just very special. If in need of a short break, Ithaca is a ‘go to’ spot. Always something more to explore and always surprises to delight the senses.
This blog is just a taster for some of the Ionian Islands. Maybe this will be enough to encourage guests at The Walnut Tree to set off on their own adventures.