Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Kefalonia - Part Three

Wednesday 18th

...Or not, after all. Turns out that was the worst night's sleep yet here in Greece. Not as bad as the Travelodge in Manchester, but still only a solid four hours slumber. Anywho, I was up with the alarm at 0830, and sat on the terrace, sun-creamed, sun-glassed and book in hand, awaiting the arrival of our hire car. So, it reached 1015, and still no car! Upon ringing Avis, with whom the car was booked, they reportedly have no deliveries or collections in Agia Efimia today. Sigh. After some searching for my name, they find a booking for our hire car, with an airport pick up. I pointed out the lack of logic that that would entail, given that we arrived on Sunday, and was told that it would cost €66 to have it dropped off in the evening. Unhappy but in need of the car for the next day, I grudgingly accepted.

Luckily Thomas Cook are so damned good - one of the rep's in the Kefalonia office did some political manouvering on our behalf and got Avis to agree to drop it off at one in the afternoon. At least it meant we could have a drive and get used to the car before the long trip up to Fiskardo in the morning. In retrospect, I was a little harsh on Avis; they delivered the car at 1200, with an apology for the mistake and a class B car to make up for it, instead of the class A we had ordered. Finally, we had our car!

With paperwork signed and extra charge paid, we set off in our Chevrolet Aveo (silver), registration KEB 7922 (A.K.A. Kioni), and were soon edging our way around Agia Efimia. Nervously laughing each time I punched the door with my right hand in an attempt to change gear (it being a Greek car and therefore left-hand drive with the gears and handbrake to the right), we made it to Melassani Lakes. There, in a group of only seven people (in a boat designed for about double that), we learned that in its deepest points the lake is 100ft deep, and yet you could still see the bottom! As we edged around the cavern, learning that the water here flows in an underground river from Argostoli (the Capitol about 20km west of where we were) all the way here and past down to Sami (a few Km's further east), a great big piece of rock fell from the cavern ceiling and crashed into the waters nearby!

As a direct result of my sense of direction (and partly due to the odd layout of Greek roads), we took the scenic route to the Drograti Caves. Here, we descended the 143 steps into the maw of rock to observe the islands biggest natural attraction. It was exceedingly beautiful and the temperature perfectly cool - gorgeous just at that time, as it was the hottest part of the day on the surface! In an attempt to cool off back up top we stopped at the cafe and had an icy-cold diet coke each (neither stayed icy for very long in that heat) and two large sandwiches. Katie also bought a necklace from a salesman nearby, who in three minutes makes your name in either English or Greek out of wire. Armed with her new gift, we browsed the gift shop nearby, where I was refrained from buying the Samurai sword for only €30, nor was I allowed to purchase the repeater shotgun for only €50! Bargain! In the event of a zombie apocalypse, I'm making a break for Kefalonia - great food, good weather, and discount weaponry!

Unfortunately here, Katie lost her sunglasses. We're not sure where, or how, but somewhere either in or around Drograti Caves lies a pair of women's sunglasses. May they serve whoever finds them well. From there on the outskirts of Sami, we struck in-land across the mountains. Past the foothills of Mount Roundi, we came down out of the highlands to Argostoli. Here we stopped briefly to quench our thirst, buy new sunglasses, buy a sponge (one of the natural ones), and find out parking details for Saturday's BBQ boat trip. Following the Argostoli peninsula round, taking in the full scope of the gulf, we hugged the coastline south and then cut across east towards a village called Pessada. Incidentally, it lay next to Spartia - if I had known we could have visited Leonidas' monument (a little 300 joke)! Anyway, we arrived at the Kefalonia Game Farm to the sound of insects. Nothing else. It was like the scene of a bad horror movie, where you yell at the main character to turn around and leave but they just don't listen! As such we left (no-one answered my horror-movie standard call of "Hello, anybody there?"), so I missed out on shooting clay pigeons, but never mind.

Heading ever-eastwards, we accidentally descended into Lourdata (or Lourdas as the English call it); a gorgeous front of golden sands and lapping, crystal-clear water (to be fair, I don't think there's anywhere on Kefalonia that doesn't have crystal waters). The only problem is to get to it and back out of it, you have to traverse unnaturally-crazy inclines, many around super-tight, blind corners. After some white-knuckle driving and several first-gear power-rev's, we found the main road and continued onwards along the coastline. Somewhere along the drive a turning point was reached - we flew along the cliff-top roads (quite safely thankyou very much), and took corners like native Greek islanders (though with much more courtesy for our fellow drivers and alot more lane discipline). I had broken in this wild steed and settled into the left-hand driving, right-side gears and the left-seat control position, odd as it was. 

We cruised along through Markopoulo and coasted down out of the Mount Aenos lowlands towards the Poros valley, listening to "Ionian Galaxy" - an odd assortment of Greek music, popular English chart music and a dash of strangely-covered English pop and oldies! Never-the-less, it gave us an enjoyable accompaniment that had us singing along at some points, laughing loudly at others, and in some places making us doubt our hearing. A well-known song to us also made an appearance - Gary Barlow's version of Sing. It seem's even on holiday we can't get away from Jack's favourite song! We stopped just outside the bay that becomes Agia Efimia and took a few photographs of the picturesque town before making the horseshoe journey back to our apartment.

We unceremoniously dumped our things in the apartment, set the air conditioning to the lowest possible and took to the beach for an hour. After several hours of non-stop driving in the hot car (though without the a/c or the open windows we'd have cooked), the cool waters were just the remedy we needed. Over the seaweed bed that hugs the centre of the small swimming inlet that we used, we spotted a school of larger fish floating about, and discovered that the smaller surface-rippers are quite cheeky (no matter how many times you try nor how close you come to grabbing them you get, they keep swimming back up close to torment you)!

Refreshed, we had some bacon-flavour crisps and read for a while on the terrace. Stoked from the bacony-goodness, the fires of our bellies grew too much, and we took to town for dinner. This night we dined at Captain Corelli's; the bar where Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz visited often to feast whilst filming the famous film of the same name. Feast is definitely the operative word at this establishment - the portions were huge! Whilst Katie enjoyed a starter of Spetzofai (onion, pepper, sausage, chips and feta), I had fried cheese, and we debated the hostess' accents. As we devoured our large plate of pork ribs (mine) and Carbonara (for madam), we noticed the giant South African flag above the bar doorway. Some observant Forensic Scientist's we're going to be. Finally we were defeated and left a mouthful or two each upon our plates with a fair tip. Stopping at the supermarket for some bottled water (and some tasty-tasty Peach Iced Tea), we headed home to turn in for the night. An early start tomorrow, and a very physical day no Jamie's trip. Time for rest, or at least, so I hope!

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