Kefalonia (or Cephalonia) formerly also known as Kefallinia or Kephallenia (don’t ask – we’re just going with the first one). Chosen as our destination following a little bit of grumbling about the three France caravan holidays 2015, 2016, 2017 – and their associated journeys (it’s about the journey, not the destination, right?).
I appreciated that children don’t always enjoy moving through countries and looking at how the land and culture changes by car quite as much as adults. And Lily, almost 16, is kind of physically growing out of the caravan, too.
I sound reluctant because that’s how it was. I loved these trips. But the Mamma Mia generation had a longing to visit a beautiful Greek island. I’d had my way for a while and was happy to look into something different. Kefalonia was ‘found’ by really looking at Owners Direct because we’re not Hotel sort of people, somehow, and don’t like being confined (especially after the multiple caravan hols!).
We found an absolutely brilliant spot – or spots, since our bookings were a tad late, the owner found us two places very near each other for five days each – Mihaila Bungalows and Maria’s Guesthouse in Spartia, about 6 miles south of the airport / Island capital of Argostolli.
I can’t put enough emphasis on the hospitality of the Greeks, but in particular, the hospitality of the owner of the properties. Katerina was so, so happy to keep us happy. Lovely meal ready on our arrival despite this being self-catering. Honey, Olive Oil, melons and other local fruit, and even a book for Elsie to read about Greek mythology. Just so friendly and seemingly like the whole island.
It was a fab holiday…!
Things to remember / key memories
- Low-rise everything. No big hotels. Lovely.
- No show-offy Brit style posh cars or 4 Wheel Drives – I hate the Brit thing when you fly home and see BIG cars and SMALL homes / gardens. They have got it right in Greece.
- Hundreds of lovely beaches and coves instead of miles of crowded ones
- Small village centres and hardly any supermarkets – it’s quiet!
- A day of cycling: hired a nice bike from Ainos Cycles in Argostolli and (again…) they were lovely / laid back / happy to help. I rode up the enormous Mount Ainos (Strava here) – highest point in the Ionian islands and the road topped at 5,200 feet. Hot, gorgeous roads and very very long climb. No clips either – had to ride the nice bike on flat pedals in my trainers.
- Runs (almost) every morning. Heat because intense after about 8:15, when the Chicadas woke up and started their scratching chorus
FOOD AND BOOZE:
- The wine was lovely. Not sure why I thought i might not be. Local wines always taste best wherever you are, I think. We also visited a winery and monastery in the hills – v. pretty.
- On the subject of booze, we didn’t touch Ouzo. Let’s face it, it’s disgusting. They don’t do gin though. Gordon’s at fairly Brit prices. Damn.
- Olives: Everywhere, but flipping hard to find any to buy apart from in tourist packs. They use it for oil.
- Buying fish from a tiny boat in the bay next to your own bungalow is just so, so lovely and very satisfying. I didn’t half cock up cooking the small ones though. Needed a deep fat fryer for near-whitebait sized little chaps.
- The small towns are really nice, even the ones on the south of the island (where nothing survived the great earthquake of 1953, so is ‘new’ buildings). Again, very laid back. We liked Sami.
- ‘Hot spot’ beaches were not even that busy – the tourist-photo-favourite of Myrtos was easy to get to and only mildly difficult to park at.
- Roads were pretty quiet generally. Could easily run on them in the mornings without any worry of traffic.