I’ve just enjoyed the most wonderful holiday! It was one that money can’t buy because it depended on generous friends of ours inviting us to join them on their impressive yacht, which they have sailed south from the UK over the last twelve or so years and now have it based in Greek waters.
Olley and I are regular visitors to the island of Corfu but we’ve never explored the more southerly Ionian islands, so we leapt at the chance to join Jackie and Roger for a week of cruising around the islands of Ithaca, Lefkada and Kefalonia.
The weather was mixed, with more rain than you’d expect in Greece in May, and either not enough wind or too much of it in the wrong direction to make for perfect sailing conditions, but towards the end of the week the sunshine appeared, displaying the beauty of these stunning islands and the sensational, azure blue sea around them.
We moored up in a different place each day around lunchtime which gave us time to explore new places before enjoying an evening meal on board or in a local taverna. Kefalonia in particular has so much to offer. We really enjoyed Fiskardo, in the north of the island, where we moored in its lovely harbour which is lined with little boutique shops, cafes and restaurants. We walked around the headland to a gorgeous beach enhanced by the glorious colours of Greece – blue sea, white sands, dark rocks and bright green vegetation. I love swimming outdoors, especially in the sea, and this was possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever swum. Definitely up there with the Seychelles, which I was lucky enough to experience when I worked for BBC Holiday many years ago.
For the last couple of days Olley and I jumped ship as Roger and Jackie were heading off to the Greek mainland and we were flying home from Kefalonia. We explored parts of the island that were used for filming the 2001 movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, set during the German and Italian occupation in the Second World War. It’s an epic tale about the enduring hope of love and the devastating brutality of war, and the dramatic beauty of this mountainous island with its spectacular coastline provides the perfect backdrop for the story.
We discovered a delightful little taverna at the end of a dead end track that had been a favourite choice of cast and crew during off duty hours – apparently Penelope Cruz ate there almost every night. The food was simple but delicious, and everyone who walked in was welcomed like a long lost friend by Nikos, the son of the owner. We were able to stay in a room in the house next door which belongs to Nikos’s uncle, and I had the chance to enjoy a refreshing swim in the perfectly clear water off the aptly named Paradise Beach which the taverna terrace overlooked.
Those are my feet in the photo, with my favourite Skechers flip flops attached – perfect for walking across hot sand or pebbles or paddling in the sea. And they float!
The next time I swim in the sea it may not be quite so inviting, and I’ll need a wetsuit – I’ve signed up for a sea swimming weekend in Cornwall! I am beginning to feel a little nervous about it but I think it’s a good thing to challenge yourself occasionally; life can become quite comfortable and it’s easy to settle into a familiar routine. In a moment of madness, I decided to commit to swimming the Cornish Seas – hopefully my training in the Ionian Ocean will have helped prepare me. I’ll let you know in my next blog!
Until then, take care.