Words of Adam Jacot de Boinod
The island of Kefalonia will be familiar to some for the wonderful novel "The Mandolin of Captain Corelli" by Louis de Bernières, directed on film by Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz. From pine trees, cypress trees and olive groves to secluded coves and white sandy beaches, the island in the Ionian Sea has an assortment of quaint fishing villages and attractive restaurants, which showcase the cultural traditions of this welcoming Greek island. .
I reached my destination, a cosmopolitan fishing village in the north called Fiscardo which faces Ithaca, the home of Odysseus, and is a boater's paradise. There are no nightclubs here, it is a place of relaxation and rest.
This charming port is the only village on the island that was not damaged by the catastrophic earthquake of 1953. Bougainvillea adorns the obvious and satisfying Venetian colors and architecture, and although there are less than fifty inhabitants off season, it is a working village with busy locals. sweep and water the sidewalks. The locals are warm and engaging, allowing tourists to walk to their shops and restaurants on their own without hassle or glamor.
I stayed at Almyra Hotel. Almyra means 'the feel of the salt water of the sea' and opened in 2002 as a family business. The furnishings in the spacious living room are modern and chic and there is a healthy range of coffee table books on Greece, the Ionian Sea, Kefalonia, and photographs of fishermen from Fiscardo. Fortunately in Almyra visitors are spared the usual garish paintings, after all, the view says it all - overlooking its pool, the sea beyond and Ithaca further afield, not to mention the magnificent dawn, sunset and sea starry nights.
The hotel is the perfect boutique size; intimate, well-designed and ideal for its core couple clientele, although they usually bring their children in August. 80% of returning customers are British, so it's no surprise that the three flags next to the aisle promote not only Greece and the European Union, but the Union Jack as well. There is a minibus shuttle to transport and pick up harbor guests who also wish to have come from other routes to different beaches and coves and share their adventurous finds with each other.
Foodies will be spoiled for choice when it comes to dining in the region. The hotel restaurant menu, with its modest number of indoor and outdoor tables, is a combination of British and Greek tastes. As a starter, I had roasted potatoes with garlic, oregano, mustard and lemon followed by octopus cooked in red wine and sundried tomatoes served with chickpeas.
Mirella's, a roadside restaurant between the hotel and Emblisi Beach, holds authentic white-wood tables adorned with potted plants and offers truly picturesque views of the sea beyond. Here I chose a Caesar salad, as well as a honey feta and a filo pastry, followed by a chicken fillet with mushroom and pepper cream. It is very reasonable and genuine price.
One evening at Fiscardo, I ate at Panormos, a terrace restaurant with a trendy and cool atmosphere. The menu is trendy and modern with “super green” dishes chosen to suit the palate of healthy types. I chose the delicious, generously portioned super food salad made with crisp lettuce, pomegranate pearls, pine nuts, white and red quinoa, wild rice, grilled goat cheese, and lemon vinaigrette. As another starter, I had spicy shrimp, chili oil, vongole shellfish and feta cheese. Then came the sea bass fillet with lemon and thyme sauce followed by the "magic muffin", an orange chocolate soufflé with bitter chocolate ice cream.
Another night I had dinner at one of the restaurants by the water called Roulas. It has its distinctive floral pattern with soothing white neutral colors as a backdrop. The pretty elephant's breath, warm, medium gray exterior is extremely stylish, as are the white chairs, tables, shutters and windows with their delicate Greek lace. There was even a little shop to lure me inside next to the kitchen where the magic happens.
Right next door, and for another night of partying, I went to the restaurant Tassia. It is linked to the Almyra hotel and the wonderful menu offers a wide variety of meats and seafood. I chose the delicious taramasalata de Tassia, a Meloza salad with lettuce, arugula, cherry tomatoes, almonds and honey sauce , olive oil and balsamic vinegar. My grilled fresh tuna fillet which was fabulously succulent was followed by Tassia's dessert with yogurt, pineapple jelly, baked pineapple and crème fraîche.
All close to Fiscardo are the coves of Dafnoudis and Kimilia, but my favorite was Alaties, and I recommend going early to reserve your spot. It is a hidden gem in turquoise water, in front of the charming church of Antipata Erisou, then a few hamlets, through Magganos with its delicious restaurant called Picnic, to this divine little cove with the bluest of water and the whitest of rock outcrops.
For a wonderful day trip I highly recommend a boat trip with Ionian discoveries. Owner Fabio takes people to snorkel and one place is Boieru Cave in Foki Bay (meaning Seal Bay) in the glorious setting of calm turquoise water and above a small deep and dark evergreen forest, very reminiscent of Scandinavia and Canada. Throughout the day he had shown me gray and white herons, a school of baby gray mules, turtles, cormorants, octopus and starfish. He and Vassilis love to share their knowledge while they have everything to me. explained about the octopus and its indisputable, albeit underestimated, intelligence and memory.
Like all other Brits, I have to go back. When but soon!
I had the support of Heathrow Express and reached Gatwick Airport via Southern railway as well as Holiday Extras, the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels, lounges and transfers, and Holiday Extras aim to find you a hotel and parking package that is cheaper than airport parking on cheaper on its own (over two stays of one week). To book the Hilton at London Gatwick Airport, visit HolidayExtras.com or call 0800 316 5678.
The best time to visit Italy are the months of May, June, and September. Compared to the peak summer months of July and August, these months offer more comfortable temperatures and there are fewer crowds ( except around Easter ). The country experiences four classic seasons per year, although there is a marked difference between the wetter, cooler North and the drier, warmer South. The rainiest months pretty much everywhere are usually October and November.
Fall ( September – November ) : temperatures cool down gradually, although September is usually still very pleasant. Expect crisp fall leaves and some sunnier days, but plan for wet weather too. Fall carries many of the same benefits as spring, but with slightly less predictable weather.
Winter : temperatures in the South remain mild in winter, while Northern Italy is normally wet and cold. Winter in the Italian Alps is fantastic though for skiing and snowboarding, but the ski resorts do get crowded so book early.
Travelers wishing to visit Italy can use a bus, train, plane, or boat to get there. Most tourists arrive by plane though, often landing in Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, the country’s busiest airport. This is the preferred point of entry in Italy when you want to visit Rome, or saut the entire country. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Rome.
Although Rome is the main getaway for most visitors to Italy, it’s often easier and cheaper to fly directly to/from one of the country’s other airports. It can also save you a lot of time to book a multi-city ticket, hereby arriving in one airport and leaving from another ( for example fly in via Milan in the north and fly out via Naples in the south ). The following airports are of interest for most tourist itineraries :
Milan Malpenza Airport ( north ) is the largest international airport in the Milan metropolitan area in northern Italy ( and also the main getaway to the Italian Lakes ). Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Milan.
Venice Marco Polo airport ( north ) is the international airport of Venice. It offers flights to many European metropolitan areas as well as some partly seasonal long-haul routes to the United States, Canada, South Korea and the Middle East. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Venice.