THE GREEK ISLANDS AND GETS OFF THE TOURIST TRAIL IN ZAKYNTHOS
It was an interesting
time to be visiting Zakynthos. It was the first week of the season and
all was quiet, There were just a few people on the beaches. The sun was
warm and holiday package prices low so I hoped that we were there at the
right time to get the best value out of the place.
locals were worried. They
had their fingers crossed as they prepared for what was usually a vast
tourist invasion. Would the visitors come?
The problem was that volcanic ash was flying high and drifting from Iceland
towards Europe and the Greek economy was crashing.
As travellers we found that prices
for food in the shops were certainly a lot higher than in the UK but to
off set that, it being early in the season, we got a reasonable deal on
car rental. The one we hired cost 20 Euros for the day and we used it
to go Greek and visit the bits the tourists did not normally reach.
was a little yellow Chevrolet and we nicknamed it the flying custard.
In a land where the sun shone so brightly the colours were vibrant.
Cream and terra-cotta tiles on the twin tower of a church at Katastari
sparkled, They caught the eye as did a large blue truck festooned
with kitchen and garden goods. It lumbered up the hill in front
of us on our way north like a slow moving plastic ‘haystack.’
We decided to
give it space and pulled in at a cliff top view point.
A green lizard
darted out and standing stock still, gripped the rock with its spiky fingers.
He and observed me with a quizzical eye, posed for a picture then shot
away as quickly as he had arrived.
Below the sea was intensely blue and in the distance the island of Kefalonia
sat covered by a faint curtain of mist. It offered tempting plans for
future travels. The ferry from Agios Nikolas gets you there and there
are lots of other smaller boats offering trips to the "blue grotto"
and the "smugglers wreck."
Zante as it is sometimes called) is the most southerly of The Ionian islands,
When you are up it the hills with the hundreds of Olive trees and conical
pines its pretty easy to think that the Greek gods are keeping you company.
The roads in were very twisty, but it was beautiful driving through vast
olive groves that stretch up into the hills.
Stopping at a little village of Volimes we joined some locals crowding
around the back of a farmer's truck and bought a dozen massive oranges
. Later as we picniced we agreed that they were the juiciest we had ever
was also a holiday where we did a lot of walking. The
atmosphere was good with birdsong and a great scent of herbs everywhere.
neat olive groves and other ancient ones where the odd gnarled
tree looked as though it was having a bad hair day.
There was a
flock of sheep amid the trees and along with the shepherd the scene was
Ancient tractors and cars lay were they had expired and giant geraniums
covered walls and houses.
Goats observed us and children waved to us.
There are 80 miles of coastline and some stunning beaches, on Zakynthos
they are probably the best in the Ionian. Take a dip in the sea and your
swimming companion could be a loggerhead turtle.
Down at Kalamaki one evening I stood on a cliff top with the sun behind
me, t he water was crystal clear and I watched a turtle as big as a dining
On the Vassilikos
peninsula at Porta Roma a flash of colour distracted me as I relaxed on
the sand. It was a girl in a flourescent bikini gliding out to sea on
I had a go and managed to get it back without tipping it over. But even
if I had, thae water was so warm it would have been a pleasure to fall
I remember thinking that it would be a good place for anyone learning
to sail. Capsize drill would certainly be more appealing than in UK waters.
The tourist resorts in the south
are large and lively. Some will find them fun, others tacky loud and brash,
but there is something for everyone. We opted for the quiet life
and were happy with our selfcatering apartment at Alykanas with its one
street of tavernas and shops.
The beach had sunbeds, an interesting harbour and a foundered
schooner to swim around. It might have been a little walk to get
there, 900m away, but that kept us fit.
even bought garlic, cucumber, yogurt etc., and made our own Zatziki
dip which went very well with the ouzo we sipped when we sat out
on the balcony watching the swifts dart over the pool.
It is a taste
that lingers in the memory and is forever Greek.
and article by Allan Rogers