A relaxing week on Ithaca

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A relaxing week on Ithaca

Postby Gemma1 » 18 Jun 2017, 08:48

Recently returned from a week in Ithaca which is a stunningly beautiful island. It didn't grab me quite the way that Symi does but I'd definitely return. For anybody who's interested here's my rather lengthy trip report :)

Ithaca June 2017

4th June 2017
Flew with ASL on an Olympic package from Manchester to Kefalonia. The flight left Manchester half an hour late and arrived in Kefalonia at 2040 to temperatures of 25 degrees and a beautiful Greek sunset – happy days. We were out of the airport and on the transfer coach within half an hour and after dropping off other passengers in Lassi; the coach took us over the narrow mountain roads and dropped us at Sami harbour where a water taxi was waiting to take us and another couple over to Ithaca. The captain was a very friendly man and the little boat with its attractively decorated interior (just like somebody’s living room) transported us to the small port at Piso Aeotos in around half an hour. When we arrived at the port a taxi was waiting to take us on the short drive to Vathy. We arrived at Captain Yiannis at around 2330 and were shown to our junior suite – room 5 - with its stunning views over the pool and harbour.

After dumping our cases we headed down towards the harbour and stopped at Soulatso where we shared a special pizza – 11 euros – with a glass of rose for me (3 euros) and beer for the OH – 3.5 euros.

5/6/17
After continental breakfast at the hotel, we set off to explore Vathy, walking past the square with its cake shop and gyros café/takeaway, past several tavernas and continued by the side of the water, passing pretty multi-coloured houses, until the road ended. We turned left up the hill above the harbour passing pretty bougainvillea clad houses with lovely views over Vathy. Eventually we took a road back down to the harbour and stocked up on provisions at the large supermarket on the front. After stocking up the fridge we set off in the opposite direction, turning right out of the hotel and passing a couple of tavernas and a small marina before continuing on the quiet road where the fragrant smell of pine leaves filled the air to Loutsa beach. After stopping at the beach we walked back to Vathy and had a chicken gyros in the square – 2.5 euros each – before returning to the Captain Yiannis where we spent the afternoon relaxing by the lovely pool with its view of the harbour.

For dinner we went to Taverna Kantouni on the waterfront where complimentary olives and olive paste were followed by starters of tzatziki and Greek salad. For mains we had spaghetti bolognese and beef stifado accompanied by 2 large beers and half a litre of white wine. It was a very enjoyable meal and the total bill was 38.5 euros.

6/6/17
After breakfast we set off through Vathy and up the hill to the village of Perachori. It took just over half an hour of uphill walking to reach the outskirts of the village and a further 10 minutes before we reached the top. Every so often the fragrant smell of jasmine filled the air as we walked up the quiet road with views back down to Vathy.

After stopping for a drink and a short rest on a shady bench we set off along the road in the direction of the Fountain of Arethusa, following the quiet lane through the countryside where yellow butterflies fluttered in and out of the trees, a large grasshopper was basking in the sun and the odd gecko crossed the lane in front of us. After 40 minutes walking we reached the turn off for the fountain but as the path looked to go on for miles we retraced our steps back to Perachori, accompanied for part of the journey by a very friendly puppy. We walked through the village and past the cemetery before taking the 1km track to the ruins of the ancient city with its stunning views over Perachori and Vathy. On our return we stopped at the taverna in Perachori for much needed refreshment and a meze of courgette balls, tzatziki and salad accompanied our drinks. We were the only customers in the taverna and were enjoying the beautiful views and the peace and quiet so decided to stay for lunch. We shared starters of Greek salad and courgette balls followed by homemade beef burgers and chips for OH. The total bill including 3 large beers and a large bottle of water was 31 euros. Complimentary fruit in a lemon syrup was presented with the bill. We thoroughly enjoyed spending a couple of hours in this idyllic location with excellent food and very friendly hosts. We strolled back down the hill to Vathy for a very welcome dip in the pool.

For dinner we went to Taverna Kohili where we shared starters of fava and tomato balls followed by chicken a la crème x 2 which was delicious - succulent chicken breasts in a creamy mushroom sauce served with chips and rice. We struggled to finish it – as is often the case our eyes were bigger than our stomachs! The total bill including half a litre of house wine, a large beer and a small bottle of water was 41 euros.

7/6/17
We woke to the unwelcome sound of rain on the canopy above our terrace. The rain had stopped by the time we went into breakfast but the sky was still quite grey as we set off through Vathy to see if we could find somewhere to book a mini bus trip visiting the north of the island. We’d already been told by reception that the only buses at the moment are at 0545 and 1400 to fit with taking the children to and from school and we didn’t really fancy such an early start. The travel agent could only offer a tour by car for 35 – 40 euros an hour and said there aren’t enough people on the island at the moment to offer a trip by mini bus. The only way to explore the island properly is by hiring a car which OH isn’t keen to do. Ah well, we’ll continue seeing as much as we can on foot.

After leaving Vathy we walked along the road to Dexa beach. The beach was deserted so we continued walking past the turn off for the port at Piso Aetos and round the bay. We followed the road round the bay but it started to rain again so we retraced our steps and headed back to Vathy where we enjoyed an early lunch of chicken gyros in the square – it was freshly cooked and delicious. By the time we’d finished lunch the sun was shining so we returned to the hotel to spend another afternoon relaxing by the pool.

For dinner we went to Ithaka Mare on the road to Loutsa beach where we shared a Greek salad followed by an excellent moussaka for me and spaghetti bolognese for OH. Total bill including half a litre of white wine and 2 large beers was 40 euros. A complimentary dessert to share followed the meal.

8/6/17
After breakfast we took the road uphill to the right of our hotel and above Loutsa beach towards Mnimata. We followed the quiet road uphill through the trees with only the sound of the birds and insects breaking the silence before the road made its way back down to sea level. We continued on past pebbly Mnimata beach and on the wide track to Skinos where pine trees framed the beach and steps led down into the water. We walked along the path of pine needles and pine cones at the back of the beach until we reached a gate where we made our way up the rocky narrow path towards Gidaki beach. Parts of the path are very shaley underfoot and thin gossamer spiders webs crossed the path in front of us – apologies to the many spiders who had to rebuild their homes as we walked by. After 20 minutes walking the white crescent of Gidaki beach came into view – complete with the derelict beach bar. Apart from a couple of boats moored off shore we had the beach to ourselves and after walking to the far end of the long beach with its white pebbles, we stopped and rested a while enjoying the tranquillity. We made our way back up the steps at the back of the beach and along the narrow track to Skinos before walking back to Vathy.

After our walk we had lunch overlooking the sea at Toxotis in the harbour where I enjoyed a tuna salad and OH had a club sandwich and chips whilst watching the different species of fish swimming in the sea just below us. The bill including 2 large beers and a small bottle of water was 21 euros. A small complimentary dish of cake with ice cream and cream followed our meal. After lunch we returned to Captain Yannis for another afternoon relaxing by the pool.

It was a very breezy evening as we made our way towards the harbour for dinner. I fancied pasta for a change so we went to the Pizza House where we sat by the sea and shared a very large Greek salad followed by chicken and mushroom pasta for me and a chicken and mushroom pizza for OH. The service was very quick; we’d hardly started our salad when the main course arrived. The pizzas here are huge – definitely enough for 2 and when we’d finished our meal the friendly waitress packed the other half up in a box for us to take away with us. The bill including half a litre of rose wine and a large beer was 32 euros and a complimentary dessert with ice cream accompanied the bill. It was pleasant enough, though there was too much pasta and not enough chicken for me and we both found the pizza a bit too salty for our liking.

9/6/17
After breakfast we took the road to the left of the hotel, climbing between houses with lovely harbour views. We continued past the old church tower and took the road to Sarakiniko, the road climbed between the houses with views over the fertile Vathy valley and the football pitch. After climbing the hill and turning the corner the pretty bay of Sarakiniko came into view with its small wooden jetty and fishing boats. We walked down to the pebble beach before returning to the road and continuing for another kilometre to Filiatro where there are sunbeds and umbrellas to rent (10 euros for 2 sunbeds and an umbrella) and a portable kantina at the end of the beach – though no sign of any washroom facilities. We left the beach and made our way back to Vathy, taking a detour away from the road down some old stone steps where fallen lemons were lying on the ground beneath a lemon tree. We carried on past an orchard where more fruit was lying wasting on the ground, before making our way to the archaeological museum at the back of the harbour where to our surprise entry was free. After a wander round the museum, which houses items dating back to BC, we returned to the harbour for lunch followed by another relaxing afternoon by the pool.

For dinner we went to Tsiribis on the road to Loutsa, where we shared starters of tzatziki and aubergine salad, followed by beef stifado x 2. The bill including half a litre of wine and 2 large beers was 44 euros.

10/6/17
After breakfast we made our way towards the harbour and meandered through the streets at the back of the square where there are several tavernas that unfortunately we won’t have time to visit. After a wander round the harbour we walked up the hill to the church with its graveyard overlooking the peaceful green valley, before walking back down and along the quiet road at the side of the water where we stopped to sit on a bench, mesmerised by the sun dappling on the blue sea and enjoying the peace and quiet. We made a final visit to the supermarket and after depositing our purchases at the hotel, we took the quiet lane immediately to the right of the hotel which climbed through the trees with lovely views of the harbour below. This quiet lane meandered through the green countryside at the back of Vathy, before joining the road which leads to Sarakiniko and Filiatro. We turned right towards the harbour where we had lunch at Lo Spuntino overlooking the harbour. I had a very nice tuna salad and OH, who was feeling hungry, had a Greek salad followed by club sandwich and chips. The bill including 2 large beers and a small water was 29 euros. After a relaxing lunch we returned to the hotel for our final afternoon by the pool.

For our final dinner we went back to Kohili where we shared starters of tzatziki and fava followed by chicken a la crème x 2. The bill including a large beer, half a litre of white wine and a small bottle of water was 41.5 euros.

11/6/17
After breakfast we had a final walk round the back of Vathy and down to the harbour before returning to the hotel to pack and check out by 12. The taxi picked us up at 3 for the short journey to the port where we had tickets for the 3.30 ferry. There were quite a few vehicles waiting to get on the ferry which meant it didn’t leave until 3.45 but we arrived in Sami in plenty of time for our 6pm pick up. We had a wander along the front and plenty of time for something to eat before the coach came. We shared a Greek salad followed by Pasticcio for me and spaghetti bolognese for OH and the bill including a large beer and small water was 23 euros. Prices in Sami are cheaper than on Ithaca though some areas of the town looked a bit run down – perhaps I’ve been spoilt by a week on Ithaca!

The coach arrived 15 minutes early and picked up other passengers in Agina Effimia en route. I stayed in Agina Effimia on my first visit to Kefalonia 20 years ago and it seems to have grown a lot from the small fishing village that I remember.

Unfortunately the Manchester flight was one and a half hours late leaving Manchester so we had quite a long wait at the airport but once it arrived the turnaround was pretty quick.

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay on Ithaca. It’s a beautiful island with a lovely square where the local children can meet quite safely on a night. I would love to return and spend time exploring the north of the island.
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Gemma1
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Re: A relaxing week on Ithaca

Postby Allan » 19 Jun 2017, 19:41

That was an interesting report, thanks for taking the trouble to post it.

Ithaca certainly sounds a fascinating island, one more to add to the "to visit one day" list.
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Re: A relaxing week on Ithaca

Postby silverfox » 19 Jun 2017, 21:22

Thanks Gemma

I always enjoy reading these blogs about any Island and it certainly sounds like a nice place.

Another one to research!

:)
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Re: A relaxing week on Ithaca

Postby D and E » 25 Jun 2017, 19:02

Thanks for this very descriptive blog Gemma. Ithaca sounds wonderful and one of these days when we fully retire & have the time we will look to exploring Greece beyond Symi.
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Re: A relaxing week on Ithaca

Postby Val » 27 Jun 2017, 16:41

Can't believe I've only just noticed your report on Ithaca Gemma. Not been checking in so often lately. Another excellent write up from you and like D & E we fancy a stay on Ithaca some time. Amazed that Olympic got you there so quickly at that hour as I always assumed you'd have to stay over on Kefalonia the first night. Thanks for sharing your hols with us once again and it was a real treat to read. XX
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Re: A relaxing week on Ithaca

Postby Val » 27 Jun 2017, 17:11

Me again Gemma. Reading your post encouraged me to have a look at the map of Greece and I just realised I have been to Ithaca! Thought that would give you a chuckle. Must admit it was a short trip many years ago when my daughter and I were staying on Lefkas we decided to go on the ferry to Fiskardo. There were only about eight of us on the boat and no one except us on the top deck. I can remember stretching out sunbathing and it seemed to take hours for such a short trip. We had lunch and caught the same boat back so as you can imagine we didn't see very much. I think it went to Vathy and then sailed back up the coast where we got back on board. I can recall that Fiskardo was very picture postcard and didn't seem to have the usual day to day shops only gift shops so Vathy was probably a good choice to stay. Lots more going on I would think. Thanks again for a good read.
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Re: A relaxing week on Ithaca

Postby Gemma1 » 29 Jun 2017, 06:51

I was very impressed by the service we received from Olympic on this trip Val, it really was first class - especially considering what we paid (I don't imagine hiring a water taxi is cheap) and the lack of a rep didn't have any affect at all - a bit like Halki. Now if they could arrange a water taxi to Symi that would be superb ;)
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Re: A relaxing week on Ithaca

Postby D and E » 30 Jun 2017, 12:35

We like Gemma's idea of a water taxi to Symi especially as ferry times are currently seeing more and more Symi Visitors having to stop over on Rhodes. Is there an enterprising Symiot who might want to give it a go ? How much would we be prepared to pay for the journey ? For our forthcoming 7 night break with 5 nights on Symi we would pay quite a few Euro for such a service - as much as we would pay for a decent hotel on Rhodes. Does that make a good business case we wonder.
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