Kefalonia, Greece

For my birthday, Jack took me on a surprise trip to Kefalonia. Well, kinda. He kept the secret close for so long – he really intended to take me as far as the flight landing before telling me where we were going (it’d be interesting to see how easy it would be to avoid any & all casual references to your destination to see if it’s really feasible with another handling boarding passes, departure board-watching and some cautionary headphone coverage) – but it slipped mere weeks before we left. Kefalonia has long been on my destination wishlist and Jack took care to find us the most wonderful apartment in Assos overlooking the little ocean bay. See the picture above? That’s the view from our apartment balcony.

After arriving in Kefalonia! We landed at a reasonable time and – because Jack mentioned our destination earlier – I made the decision to book a rental car so we could explore the island and its many beautiful beaches with a lazy day in our Assos cove every other day. We were given a semi-automatic car, which I have no experience of driving, so figuring out the delicate gear system (it’s semi because there’s no clutch, otherwise it’s pretty much manual) while winding down harrowing, narrow mountain passes was an interesting way to start the trip…! Its beauty is unreal though, so a little peripheral scan in the heat of driving stress is all you need to build a little courage.

Figuring out which of the 4 restaurants to go to (we went for seafood in that little canary-colored one with periwinkle shutters).

The granny aesthetic in our apartment was perfect.

The light in Greece is uniquely radiant. An hour before sunset it looks like it’s levitated a whole arm of Kefalonia.

A week before leaving, I learned about an affordable underwater case for DSLRs (via A Beautiful Mess) and immediately got one. I probably looked like an absolute moron marching, bikini clad around the mirage-hot beaches of Kefalonia with this bulky, strappy system and then kicking around with my lap-swimming goggles to try all sorts of shots, but I don’t care. I love having a pet project to bring along on vacation.

Tiny blossom in the tide in Assos.

Snorkeling gear is sold in all the tat shops, but as far as I saw, there wasn’t very much to see besides cloudy grasses (beautiful, cloudy grasses though). The salt content is extremely high so your extreme buoyancy also makes diving down for a closer look challenging.

This gent, way out in the Assos ocean cove!

And what lies beneath…

I didn’t get any pictures of our very favorite restaurant, but it was the absolute best. We had to force ourselves to try other places but went every day for either lunch or dinner: Platanos.

The next day we decided to check out Fiskardo, which is the most popular village to stay in on Kefalonia for wealthy jerks. In 1953 the Ionian Earthquake destroyed most of the buildings on Kefalonia, and Fiskardo is among the only places on the island where the old architecture has survived. Only problem: the car wouldn’t start. We tried the whole putting pressure on the brake deal to try and start it, but were convinced the battery was dead. Three hours later (memory card to bursting with a pictures of Swallowtails), the mechanic finally arrived and it started no problem :/

Anyway! Fiskardo was nice, but they really hustle you there. It’s worth a visit, but don’t bother staying there if you want a really peaceful visit. We found this little stoney beach to swim from (the beauty of visits like this is, if you’re always in your bathingsuit, you never know what beaches you’ll stumble on).

The next day we went out, we were in hunt of the caves. On the way, we passed through Agia Efimia (below).

We were looking for Melissani Cave, which we were fortunate to get to both at the best time – between noon and 2 pm – so the sun was right overhead and when there wasn’t a horrendous line. The cave was discovered when the roof collapsed over half exposing this deep, underwater grotto. If you visit outside those hours the sun is overhead, it’s nowhere near as breathtaking. It’s also very crowded, so it’s luck-of-the-draw if you show up just before or after a big tour bus arrives and lines up.

The guys working in the cave are apparently instructed to whistle as they row your boat to demonstrate the acoustics (they use the whole whistling routine and the offer to take your picture mostly to try to get a tip from you. I’m not saying don’t tip, but it’s a bit of a gimmick).

It is maybe a little overrated, but still very beautiful … especially if you can imagine being in there by yourself rather than thumping your way past many other boats, surrounded by medley of off-tune whistling.

They also row you into the uncollapsed cave.

From Melissani, we decided to drive to Sami for lunch and then onto Antisamos, which is a famously beautiful beach. Along the drive from one to the other:

Enjoying the stillness of Antisamos!

Jack and his cool lego guy beach hair :)

I’m not quite sure where this is – somewhere along the drive back from Sami to Assos.

Silhouettes of the pokey little Cypress trees.

Myrtos Beach!

After the drives to Fiskardo and Sami, we couldn’t decide whether to stay put in Assos or continue exploring. There used to be a quick, coastal road… but two years ago a bridge along the road collapsed and they’ve just closed it off. This means that many drives have gone from short trips to longer trips up and over the mountains (everytime. This is the only way). Myrtos is – in theory – just around the bend from Assos but to get there, you have to take the detour. It’s so worth it – what a stunning place! Parking can be a nightmare, but we were in shoulder season and got there early enough, so there was no problem. It is limited though.

Looks like an absolute dream.

Channeling Bernhard Lang here.

Zero filtering going on here.

Welp, out to doggy paddle with my big ass camera and creep out all the residents of Heaven on Earth!

At the edge of the beach is a cave you can swim through…

Watching cliff jumpers!

Merman back in our Assos cove.

I learned these are called li-los in the UK! I can’t remember what I called mine but it was a deliberate malaprop and it drove Jack nuts :)

Our very own cave! This one you can swim in, too, but it’s terrifyingly dark. I also learned by eavesdropping on some lady that – after hating on the snorklers – her and her husband had been snorkling by this cave and saw an octopus! And watched it change colors! Oh my lord, I was convulsing with envy.

I semi-bravely coasted through on my li-lo (I pretty much wrecked it with all my bootlegged sporting adventures).

Cavey horizons

Just makes you want a bowl of sherbert, you know?

King Midas surveying the dinner options.

Lady Wethead getting stoked about that aubergine dip coming up…

Another view of Assos! You see that little isthmus-like land finger on the left? With the little pile of homes? That’s just above our ocean cove, so where our apartment was.

A hazy hour, looking across to the chalk cliffs (this is how the sea sometimes has that almost opaque green color).

On our way out, saying goodbye to the beautiful Cypresses.

And goodbye to wonderful Kefalonia!

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