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Thursday, June 09, 2005

CRUISING

Vathi, Ithaka

It's nearly 9 p.m. on Thursday evening and we arrived here on Lefkada Island a couple of hours ago. I'm posting a few odds and ends about our last day/evening on Kefalonia and the cruise over here to Lefkada.

I started making some notes this morning while we were waiting for our ferry at Fiskardo and I was sitting at a taverna looking out over Homer's wine-dark sea toward the nearby green mountains of Ithaka. We were sorry we couldn't make it over to Odysseus' island but time wouldn't permit it. Then we discovered that our bus from Argostoli wasn't going to make the right connection with the ferry to Vassiliki, Lefkada so we had to wait around til 4.30 to get a different ferry going to another port. This means we won't be able to get to that lovely beach below Sappho's Leap around Cape Doukos as we are now in another village on the east side of Lefkada, opposite Onassis island, Skorpios. And it's too far away to get a boat around to Sappho's Leap. So we will stay put here and enjoy the tranquility.

We spent a lazy afternoon sipping rose wine and eating grilled octopus at Elis sea-side taverna before catching the ferry for Nydri, a small fishing village which is now a busy tourist resort and yacht harbour. I'll write more about it later. The trip over was a bit choppy. There's been a wind all day and it's been cooler. I'd hoped to spot dolphins, as the last time I was cruising around these waters there were many of them chasing the boat and performing for the passengers. Perhaps we'll see some yet!

There were some things I had forgotten to write about Kefalonia, mainly the connection with poets and artists. It was a favorite island of Lord Byron. I wanted to try and get to the village where he often stayed as I understand there is a plaque on the house he lived in. However, we couldn't do everything and unfortunately, the bus tour didn't take us there.

The island has also been a mecca for painters and the other day we saw some paintings by Edward Lear who often came there to paint the lovely old Venetian buildings and beautiful scenery. At the same gallery (which, by the way, was the Focas gallery -- which may be a connection with Iannis Focas: Juan de Fuca's family) we saw an outstanding display of photos of 'before' and 'after' Argostolis. The devastation of the '53 quake was incredible!

We got up early today for the hour bus ride along the winding coast road to Fiscardo. The road is high above the sea cliffs, with sheer cliffs dropping into the sea on one side and rising up in stone walls on the other, except for passages where you are cutting through green hillsides and villages. Quite incredible how the drivers maneuvre the buses around those hair-pin curves. A white-knuckle ride for those who are faint-hearted, for sure! Spectacular scenery though. And today the sea was patched with various colours of aqua and teal blue and turquoise.

As I said, we hung around Fiskardo (not an unpleasant way to spend the day) waiting for the little ferry "Captain Aristidis" to take us on the 2 hr. cruise to Nydri (6 euros)
We were impressed with the port immediately. It curves into a deep bay with green tree-covered mountains on each side. It took us about 10 minutes to find an excellent pension (studios) just down the road. We have a third floor suite with a balcony that overlooks the Bay.
There is a swimming pool too! (yay!) and the suite has all amenities. For only 35 Euro! It sure pays to look for pensions instead of hotels and in many cases they are much nicer as you have more of the comforts of home. It turns out the woman who runs this for her Greek/Can parents was born and raised in Winnipeg! So we feel right at home, that's for sure, and we'll stay here til Saturday when we catch a bus up to Lefkada town and back down the mainland to Athens.

Unfortunately we couldn't get to Ithaka and we can't make it to Sappho's Leap as we couldn't get that ferry to Vassilikis. That's disappointing. I'd so hoped to conjur the Muse again while here. But Homer's spirit is around. We passed close to Ithaka today and I took some good photos of it. Actually, one of the old German archaologists insisted that Lefkada was actually the site of Odysseus' Bronze Age kingdom. So we're close enough.

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