Kefalonia and Ithaca
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A guide to the Greek islands Kefalonia (Cephalonia) and Ithaca. I visited both during a holiday in mid to late September 2004 with Simply Travel. The islands are close to Corfu. Ithaca is the smaller of the two, more rugged and less developed, whereas Kefalonia has sandy beaches, a number of car hire companies and some large resorts.
Kefalonia has good, sandy beaches on its south coast, and large mountain (Enos) at its centre. The villages in the centre can be quiet and the island's roads are at most two lanes wide, with many single lane or even unpaved. The island is sizable and a car is useful (we only saw half the island, even with a car). The food is generally good and comparatively cheap, a meal costing around 12 euros per person with soft drinks.
The next village along, Katelios was on the same bay and had a string of tavernas on the waterfront, none of which we tried, preferring ours and our host's cooking. The backstreets were interesting, one house having grapes, figs, pomegranates, limes as well as a wide variety of flowers growing outside.
We also visited Sami, where we ate in a waterfront restaurant and bought a hat, and Argostoli where we drank in a harbourside bar, having looked down on the town from hills to the west.
Mount Enos (Aenos) is a good-sized mountain, 1628m in height, with spectacular views, and a narrow, winding road to the summit. We visited it on a not-so sunny day, and reached the end of the paved road, part of the way up it, fog was blowing across the mountain top, and the plants looking frosted and cold.
Before leaving we ate in Agios Evfemia, at Stelios Dendrinos, said to be the best restaurant on the island. The food was good, the rain spectacular, and the possibility of eating from the same plate as Penelope Cruz a thrill.
Ithaca has rocky beaches rather than sand. Taking a boat out from Vathi or Kioni allows you to access private coves where you can spend the day. We didn't do this, preferring to drive around the island, visiting bays, snorkelling and enjoying walks and views from hillsides.
We stayed in Margarita's House, up in Perahori, overlooking Vathi. Our veranda was regularly visited by a hummingbird that liked the petunias their. The veranda included binoculars which we used to spy on the harbour boats, nearby islands, buildings and people. At night the moon and milky way could be studied at leisure.
Two restaurants mentioned in the Rough Guide of 1993 are still open in Vathi and quite good - To Trehandiri (behind the waterfront) and To Kantouri (on the waterfront). Vathi is quiet in September, some restaurants are closed, the service is quick as there are comparatively few to serve. The taverna at the top of the hill in Perahori was open, but in the evenings it only opens around dusk. The food is good, mainly grilled.
We took a trip to the North of the island:
Kioni was pretty, but the restaurant was basic, but the harbour picturesque.
Exogi is a half-deserted town, it is good for a half-hour wander or so, it features great views over nearby bays and villages.
The vicinity of the town of Anogi has great views, but it was raining when we were there. The nearby church is said to be pretty.
In the south of the island, the walk to Arethousa Spring is pretty, along lush hillsides, but the spring itself is not very interesting. The beaches a short walk below are deserted and look lovely (see picture to the left) and would make an ideal destination after a hot walk.
Beaches (all stoney):
Images of the islands:
Travelling there, package holiday firms: