Apart from sunbathing, reading, sleeping, eating and drinking, we didn't do a lot on the first week of our holiday. However we booked a boat trip round the neighbouring island of Ithaca for the second Friday we were there.
We were picked up by coach at 8 a.m. and taken to the little harbour at Agia Efimia, where much of Captain Corelli's Mandolin was filmed. In fact there's a taverna called Captain Correlli's there though we didn't have time to call in for refreshments.
We boarded the boat, The Ithaca Princess, and set sail towards the narrow strait between Kefalonia and Ithaca, which for the most part is between 3 and 5 kilometres wide. Approaching the strait storm clouds were gathering, the water became rather choppy and it began to rain - not a good start to a boat trip! Thankfully we hadn't opted to sit on the sundeck because all the people up there were asked to come down to the lower decks until we got through the strait. The captain promised the sun would reappear then. Do you remember the scene in 'Jason and the Argonauts' where they were sailing through the 'clashing rocks' well it was a bit like that! (See the 'storm clouds' picture on the slide show). Anyway the captain was right, once through the strait we left the storm behind and emerged into bright sunshine.
Neolithic finds in the north of Ithaca date it's earliest inhabitation back to at least 3000 BC. According to it's infamous mythology, the island was named after either Ithacus , son of the sea-god 'Poseidon' or Ithacis, the son of a Kephalonia king who settled there. It is said to be the home of Odysseus and reached it's peak around 1000 BC, which seems to correspond with Homer's writing of the much disputed Odyssey . Archaeological finds from this period have been used to support the reading of this epic as a literal description of historic events and can be seen in Vathi's Archaeological Museum.
Our first stop was in one of the beautiful bays for a short swim-stop. MWM doesn't swim and I seemed to have got something in my eye, which was watering mercilesly, so I gave swimming a miss and just enjoyed the scenery. (see 'swimstop' on the slideshow)
We set sail again to the village of Kioni where we docked for about forty-five minutes, giving us enough time to walk round the village, have an ice-cream and take some photographs. On the 20th of July, the inhabitants of the lovely village of Kioni, reach the small church of Agios Elias (built on the rocks by the sea) with their little fishing boats to attend the holy service and celebrate the feast of the saint with a huge feast back in Kioni, full of live traditional music, dances, tasty food and excellent wine. (see 'Sailor's Chapel' Kioni on the slideshow). Of course we missed it!
Setting sail once more for the capital of Ithaca, Vathi, we marvelled at how green yet mountainous the island is and enjoyed the running commentary given by the three guides on the boat. They gave us lots of historical information about Ithaca, none of which I can remember, but it was all very interesting if you want to read up on it here.
Sailing into Vathi we saw the seaplane taking off for one of its twice daily flights to Argostoli (Kefalonia's capital). Vathi is very picturesque and we had two hours there, enough time to have a delicious Greek salad, local bread and a beer for lunch in one of the harbour tavernas (see lunch in Vathi on the slideshow) before exploring the pretty cobbled streets.
Leaving Vathi we sailed round to yet another bay for a swim-stop, I chickened out again opting to bag one of the seats on the sundeck to catch some rays whilst it's occupants were swimming. The sail back to Agia Efimia was a lot smoother than the sail out. By the time we got back to the hotel it was 7 p.m. - a long day but a very enjoyable one, time to get showered and changed and out to dinner.
Tune in for Kefalonia part 3 soon.