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Countdown to Kefalonia

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The beautiful landscapes and scenery on Kefalonia look tremendously inviting even in winter, as this short film by Yiannis Prassadis reveals

 

Finally going: Kefalonia has been on our bucket list for quite some time, but we have never been able to fit a trip there into any of our past island-hopping holidays — largely since we were usually travelling in the Aegean or Dodecanese regions of Greece, too far away to conveniently slot any of the Ionian islands into our vacation schedule. We kept expecting that we would devote one entire holiday just to see Kefalonia and some of its island neighbours, but it never happened.

Notions of visiting Kefalonia were rekindled this past January when I discovered the Explore Kefalonia — Winter video (posted above) while working on my blog articles about snowfalls and severe weather conditions in Greece.  

I was captivated by the video scenes of beautiful coasts and landscapes, and that led me to start watching more Kefalonia videos, almost all of which were filmed during the summer tourist period, rather than during the off-season winter months. Those videos, in turn,  made me conclude that we had to bump Kefalonia higher up our “must see” list of places to visit sometime in the next five years.

 

 

I never thought for a moment that we might get to Kefalonia as early as this year, but when friends invited us to join them on a road trip in the western Peloponnese this spring, and asked if we would like to go to Kefalonia from there, we couldn’t pass up the golden opportunity.

We will be on the island later this month for almost a full week — clearly not long enough to see all the fascinating places and attractions that have intrigued me so much in the videos. But if we do wind up loving it Kefalonia as much as we have enjoyed so many other islands, we’ll return another time to get to know it better.

Now it’s just a matter of contending with the steadily growing anticipation of finally getting there. With the countdown to our flight to Greece in its final days, we won’t have to wait much longer.

Below are three of the videos I enjoyed watching during the winter, never realizing that a trip to Kefalonia would be in the cards for us so soon.

 

James Brook published his Kefalonia  video in October 2016

 

Greg Stachura released his Amazing Kefalonia video last November

 

Island Paradise was posted last summer by Buytheticketandgo.com

Views of Viotia

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This film by Sheep Productions includes aerial views of some of the scenic towns, lakes and mountain areas in Central Greece’s Viotia region

 

Introductory visit: If all goes according to plan, we will be spending several days in the Central Greece region of Viotia during the final leg of our upcoming trip to Greece. 

Truth be told, I had never heard of Viotia (also often spelled Boeotia) by its name until very recently, though I have long been aware of some of the top attractions in the area — including the UNESCO World Heritage site of Delphi, Mount Parnassus, and the town of Arachova.

But then the Viotia from Above video was brought to my attention, and after studying a map I realized we could arrange to spend two or three days in the area en route from Central Greece to Athens.

Viotia from Above runs just over two minutes and shows scenic drone views of two towns (Livadeia and Arachova), Kria Springs and Yliki Lake, the countryside at Lafysti, plus Mount Parnassus and Helikon Mountain. 

 

Viotia region of Greece

The Viotia region is highlighted in pink on this Google map

 

After watching that clip, I found My Unique Arachova (below), a video posted by the Aegli hotel in Arachova. It runs for two and a half minutes and shows scenes from the town and surrounding area; mountain biking and skiing at Mount Parnassus; mountain and landscape scenery; and an aerial view of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Together, the two films enticed me into adjusting our travel plans so we can pass through Viotia after a road trip in the western Peloponnese and a visit to Kefalonia island.

 

 

While won’t be doing any skiing at Parnassus, it seems clear there will be plenty of other things to keep us happily occupied in and around Arachova and Delphi — and anywhere else we might get to in Viotia. I’m sure we will wind up wishing we had considerably more time to explore the region more thoroughly, but our short stay will give us a taste of what’s there (and I’ve already been told by several people that the local food is divine) and what we will be able to see during a return visit on another holiday.

In case the videos pique your own interest in visiting Viotia,  you can find some helpful general information on the Viotia page of Greece.com.  Also worth a look is the article Arachova: A Cosmopolitan Greek Mountain Experience from the travel, culture and gastronomy website Greece Is.

 

You’ll see scenes from the town of Arachova, Mount Parnassus, Delphi and other places in Viotia in this video by YouTube contributor aegli-arachova.gr

 

A timely Greece travel guide

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Sunday Times Travel Magazine May 2017 cover

Greece gets cover treatment in the May 2017 issue of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

 

Cover glory:  It may have been an omen, or simply serendipity, but whatever it was certainly happened at a good time.

When I popped into a local newsstand the other day to browse reading material for our upcoming flight to Greece, a photo of a beautiful Greek island beach instantly caught my eye.

At first glance I thought it was a picture of Zakynthos island’s world-famous Navagio beach (also known as Shipwreck Beach) that graces the cover of the May 2017 edition of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. But after taking a closer look once I got home, I realized it’s a different beach altogether. Surprisingly, the magazine’s editorial page doesn’t identify the location — the photo states only that the image was photographed by Giovanni Simeone of SIME/4 Corners.  But after a few minutes of Google searching, I discovered that the picture captures a small cove a short distance down the coast from Navagio. 

With that little mystery solved, I took a quick peek through the magazine’s cover feature — a 24-page “Total Guide” to Greece. 

 

 

“Whether you’re after a jam-packed family trip, an indulgent break with friends, or a romantic laze on a step-back-in-time island, we’ve got your Greece right here,” the guide’s introduction pledges. And it certainly seems to fulfill its promises. 

Among the guide’s dozens of destination profiles, tips and suggestions are articles describing:

♦  The ideal island-hopping break (to the Argo-Saronic islands)

♦  3 ways to feel remote

♦  The ideal active holiday

♦  5 ways to get off-season summer sun

♦  A girly break on Santorini

♦  The ideal crowd-free Athens break

♦  Our favourite scrummy seaside lunches

♦  The ideal family-friendly resort holiday

♦  Our favourite epic historic sites

♦  Our favourite beaches only the locals know

♦  2 ways to visit a great little city

♦  The ideal timewarp trip (to Kythira), and

♦  Our favourite white sand beaches (Navagio ranks #2 on the list, right after Crete’s Balos beach, which I profiled in two blog posts  last year: Escape to Crete’s exotic Balos beaches and lagoons, and Escape to Balos Part 2).

The guide provides plenty of additional information and helpful advice, and is packed with photos of beautiful and inspiring sights and scenes.  See if you can pick up a copy at your local news outlet. Sorry, but you can’t borrow mine — I’m not letting it  out of my hands!

The 10 things we loved most about Nafplio — in photos

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Photo montage of Nafplio sights

 

Photo gallery: In my previous post, Falling for Nafplio, I described some of the elements and attractions that make the eastern Peloponnese port town of Nafplio one of our favourite places in all of Greece.

That report was packed with pictures, but since I had dozens more that I wanted to share, I have gathered many of them here to further illustrate why we enjoy Nafplio so much. I have grouped them into the 10 specific sights, features and attractions that we consider our favourites:

♦  the Old Town

♦  the scenery and views

♦  the waterfront

♦  the Arvanitia promenade

♦  the coastal path to Karathona beach

♦  the three castles: Acronauplia, Bourtzi and Palamidi

♦ the beaches and swimming spots

♦  the food and wine

♦  the hotel we stayed at, and

♦  Nafplio’s convenient location for daytrips to other places in the Argolida region of the Peloponnese.

 

 

There are far more than 10 reasons why Nafplio is worth visiting, of course, but I will leave them for you to  discover and experience yourself.  I’m certain there will be plenty of things you will like about Nafplio besides those shown in our pictures.

Photo montage of Nafplio sights

 

Please click on the link below to see the photo sets on page 2.

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Falling for Nafplio

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Nafplio Greece

The Old Town of Nafplio rises on the north side of a steep peninsula, directly beneath fortification walls and buildings of Acronauplia — one of three castles situated in the historic town.  Nafplio was the capital of Greece from 1821 until  the country’s Parliament relocated to Athens in 1834. 

 

Fast favourite: It wasn’t love at first sight, but it was pretty darned close.

Within minutes of arriving at Nafplio and walking from the waterfront car park into the historic Old Town area, we couldn’t help but wonder why it had taken us so long to finally visit what is widely considered one of the prettiest and most romantic towns in Greece.  In person, Nafplio looked more beautiful and impressive than it did in the countless pictures and videos we had seen, and the Old Town’s historic ambiance instantly made us feel comfortable and welcome.

As we wound our way down narrow lanes and alleys then up steep stairs to our hotel, we felt eager to drop off our luggage so we could get out and about to explore our scenic surroundings — even though we were sluggish and jet-lagged from our overnight transatlantic flight. Napping would have to wait — we didn’t want to waste any time getting acquainted with Nafplio!

After going for lunch with a friend and wandering around the town, we realized we were falling for Nafplio — in a big way. We had been there only a few hours, and yet Nafplio had quickly charmed its way into our hearts. By dinnertime, we were telling our friend how Nafplio had already become one of our favourite places in Greece. We had suspected that we were really going to like Nafplio — she had long assured us we would — but we’d never expected that we were going to love it so much, or so fast.

 

 

 

That was late May 2016 and, after more than a dozen years of island hopping holidays that usually concluded with time in Athens, we were making our first foray into the Peloponnese. We had scheduled Nafplio for the first full week of our vacation itinerary, but were concerned this might be too long. Would there be enough attractions and activities to keep us interested and occupied for seven days?

Although I had read hundreds of online travel reviews and commentaries describing Nafplio as ideal for a daytrip from Athens, an overnight stay, or a weekend getaway, I couldn’t recall anyone recommending it for a week-long stay. But we didn’t get bored for a minute, and when it came time to depart for our next destination, we realized there were still quite a few sights and attractions we didn’t manage to see.  We even felt a tinge of regret to be leaving with so much left unexplored. For us, one week in Nafplio simply had not been long enough.

Now, nearly a year later, we continue to talk about how much we loved Nafplio, and we often discuss what we would like to see and do whenever we go back.

 

That was late May 2016 and, after more than a dozen years of island hopping holidays that concluded with time in Athens, we were making our first foray into the Peloponnese. We had scheduled Nafplio for the first full week of our vacation itinerary, but were concerned this might be too long. Although I had read hundreds of online travel reviews and commentaries describing Nafplio as ideal for a daytrip from Athens, an overnight stay, or a weekend getaway, I couldn't recall anyone recommending it for a week-long stay. But we didn't get bored for a minute, and when it came time to depart for our next destination, we realized there were still quite a few sights and attractions we didn't manage to see.  We even felt a tinge of regret to be leaving with so much left unexplored. One week in Nafplio simply wasn't enough!

Behind this palm tree at Syndagma Square stands the first Greek Parliament building. Towering above it on the hilltop are the clock tower and a stone fortification wall of the Acronauplia fortress.

 

So what exactly did we like about Nafplio? It would be difficult to name just one or two main reasons, since there were so many appealing characteristics and elements that combined to make Nafplio such a perfect vacation destination for us.  But I can easily describe the Nafplio features that rank among our favourites.

There’s the Old Town, of course, which fascinates with its colourful streets and buildings, attractive parks and squares, historic sites and monuments (including three castles), and an extensive selection of shops, restaurants, bars and hotels. 

We also enjoyed the long waterfront walkways, the scenic coastlines offering plenty of places to swim in the tempting turquoise waters of the Argolic Gulf, and the exhilarating views of hills, mountains, sea and sky.

I describe those features, and others, with a series of photos on page 2 of this post. Click here to see and read more about why we fell for this amazing and enchanting place. 

 

If you haven’t been to Nafplio before, this 10-minute video will show you exactly what you would see if you were to wander the Old Town’s charming streets, lanes and squares. The film was published in February 2017 by YouTube contributor Le Monde en Video

 

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