September 20th was a nice day, with scattered clouds, light winds and temperatures in the low 30's. We were anchored in Vlicho Bay on the island of Lefkada, a place that has a reputation of being one of the most secure anchorages in the Ionian Sea. Well protected from all directions, its thick mud bottom makes it an ideal port in a storm. Some cruisers have left their boats anchored in Vlicho bay unattended for weeks or even months at a time. In fact, we'd left our own boat at the Vlicho dock under the care of Horatio Todd for several weeks in 2009. The forecast was calling for only Beaufort 5-6 (17-27 knots) so in spite of the unsettled weather we'd been having for the past 24 hours, we were feeling quite secure. Little did we know we were about to be hit by the most frightening storm we had ever experienced.
Thinking back, there had been some signs that trouble was on the horizon. The previous night, we'd woken to a violent thunder and lightning storm that brought howling winds, rain and even hail. It's warm here at night, with temps around 28 degrees C, which means fans are on all night and all hatches are open. It's just part of how we deal with the heat. When the thunder started, I had hopped up to close all the hatches and then went right back to sleep, feeling satisfied with our position in the anchorage, the anchor and scope.
The next day, Bon and I decided to take a dinghy run into Nidri (the tourist town about ½ mile away) for some supplies. As we sat having coffee with George in the café across from his chandlery, our friends Ni and Krissie came along and told us that some big gusts had come through the bay and several boats had dragged anchor. They assured us that Aisling hadn't budged, but we decided to head back to the boat anyway.
At around 6.30 in the evening, thunder rolled ominously in the distance and it began to rain. I closed the hatches and took our big Canadian flag off the stern. A charterer ahead of us rowed out and dropped a second anchor in about 40 knots of wind. As the wind picked up strength, Aisling heeled over as though we were under sail. All the papers and books from the nav station slid to the floor and were soon soaked in coffee from the pot that had fallen from the countertop. Bon was scrambling around below trying to stow the computers and other breakable items and I yelled for her to turn on the nav instruments and running lights, hoping this would help other boats see us as the visibility dwindled. I started the engine and grabbed the wheel, getting ready to dodge any boats that dragged towards us.
The wind howled so ferociously that it drowned out the thunder, and I watched the wind speed display climb to 72 knots . The visibility was so poor with rain and spray that I could not see the bow of our boat or any boats to windward. It was especially unsettling to realize that there was a flotilla of SunSail boats at anchor around us. Boats beside us were sailing back and forth on their anchors and heeling over with their spreaders almost in the water. The water had turned pale green and now 4' waves were rolling toward us from the head of the bay, the wind whipping their tops off. It was hard to believe the waves could reach this height with such limited fetch-the bay measures only about a mile long and half a mile wide.
There was no time to be studying the wind instrument but I did look down once more and saw 00. I assumed that the force of the wind had broken the instrument but no, it was still working and when the winds started to abate the numbers came back. Later, Ni told me he had seen 96 knots on his instrument so I think the 00 was actually 100 knots.
Bon said the view from the door of the companionway was unbelievable, with mayhem all around and me at the helm peering forward intensely. She apparently asked me if I thought we were going to die and I responded with "I can't hear you!" . On the VHF, Bonnie heard a panicked woman calling "Mayday!Mayday! Vlicho Bay, Vlicho Bay!". She said it was terrible to hear the fear in her voice and to realize it was unlikely that anyone could help her, especially as she was unable to give a more detailed description of her location.
Dressed only in running shorts, a t-shirt and bare feet with the temperature dropping and the rain pounding, I was feeling almost hypothermic. Bon rummaged through lockers trying to find my foul weather gear, but since it hadn't been used in years all she could find was my old Helly Hanson sweater and a Columbia rain shell. But it made all the difference when I pulled the Helly sweater on: I started to warm up immediately even though I still had my soaked T shirt on underneath. At that point Bon also realized that I was on deck in ferocious conditions without a lifejacket or tether, and passed me my inflatable vest.
With 130 feet of chain in a depth of about 19 feet, our 30kg Spade anchor was holding well. Although I had the engine on, I had it in gear only intermittently. I was hesitant because I could not see where I was going and was afraid I might dislodge the well-set anchor by driving over it. Other boats were dragging past us but fortunately none came down directly on us. On some of these boats, the jibs had unfurled. Remembering the sound of jibs flapping uncontrollably in the wind during Hurricane Juan, and knowing the toll this could take on a rig, I tightened the jib sheets immediately and checked the furling line.
As I watched for other boats I remembered the dinghy had been floating at the stern (with outboard attached) and turned around to see all two hundred-plus pounds of it flying in the wind. A few minutes later it was upside down in the waves, although still tied on. We watched as our dinghy seat, oars and the dinghy bag containing our pump and running lights floated away, but there wasn't a thing we could do. The bimini overhead was ripping away from the frame and flapping ferociously, but I could not hear it at the time since the sound was drowned out by the roar of the wind and rain.
None of us are sure how long this lasted. My sense was 30-45 minutes, Bon thought less than 30 minutes and Ni thought it might have been as much as an hour. It seemed like a lifetime. Eventually the wind abated and as the visibility improved, the toll in the anchorage became apparent. The sea was littered with flotsam. There were boats partially sunk with only the bow showing. In the boat yard on the other side of the bay, about two dozen boats had tumbled from their cradles like dominos.
The shoreline was littered with boats (I saw at least 8) many masts had come down and jibs were in shreds.
Numerous boats had their anchor chains tangled and were now tied together. We later heard that a man had been washed overboard and drowned; another report said he had not drowned but had fallen, hit his head and died . A woman had been trapped inside a catamaran that had flipped, but she was rescued by a diver. Unbelievably, the boats anchored in Tranquil Bay less than a mile away had not experienced the high winds at all.
After a few attempts, Bon and I managed to turn over the dingy. It was not easy. The motor was still attached and the cover had even stayed on, but I later found a loose spark plug had let water enter the cylinders. (On a positive note I flushed everything out with a can of WD40 the next morning and it started after a few pulls, although it's not running as smoothly as before.)
We watched in disbelief as a sailboat came through the anchorage, picked up all the SunSail charterers with their luggage and evacuated them ashore. I wondered what would happen if the wind hit us again with no one aboard the boats, so we decided to lift our anchor and move to a safer spot. On the way, we managed to pick up one of our oars, plus another oar that was not ours. We felt a bit better knowing that we could at least row to shore if the outboard wouldn't start.
When we finally got settled in a safer location, we both felt like we needed a stiff rum, but of course we didn't dare, in case the wind came up again. Instead, we consoled ourselves with big bowls of the quintessential Canadian comfort food- Kraft Dinner! We always keep a supply onboard for emergencies like these.
The next morning, the crew of the yacht Ethel mounted a lost and found effort in the anchorage and arranged to have all the found items placed on the dock of Demetrius' taverna. The rightful owner of the oar we had picked up was located, and in return we were given a bent oar that would do in a pinch. Later, Bonnie went out with Ni and Krissie in their dinghy, searching for our lost oar and other gear. They didn't find any of our things, but picked up a boatload of treasures, all of which were added to the pile on Demetrius' dock.
We know how lucky we were to have escaped with only minor losses. We learned a few lessons from the experience, not the least of which was that it doesn't pay to underestimate the danger a thunderstorm can present. Also, always have out lots of scope, get the life jackets on early and keep the dinghy gear tied securely to the dinghy. One upside of the event was that our lines are now sparkling clean. The force of the rain and winds was like a pressure-washer.
A U Tube Video at the following link shows footage taken from shore during the height of the storm and the aftermath. Vlicho storm video by Alex Kokkinis
We are now lying at anchor in the bay at Siracusa, Sicily with thunderstorms continually rolling through. We find we've become a bit hypersensitive to the thunder. We've heard that the ancient Romans had a rule of thumb that all their ships were to be back in port by the end of September. Now we think we know why. Pizza ashore tonight, Porto Marina di Ragusa tomorrow!
|Greece Ionian & Gulf of Corinth||
09/25/2011, Posted from Halifax, but experienced in Lefkada, Greece!
Even by plane, it's a very long journey from Nova Scotia to the eastern Med. Consequently, we don't get many visitors from home. Our kids haven't even been onboard Aisling in over three years. So when we heard that our friends Donald and Victoria were travelling to Greece with their son Fraser and his girlfriend Elektra, we immediately mounted a campaign to have them meet us. Right up to the last minute, we weren't sure whether their travel plans would align with our sailing schedule, so it was pretty exciting when they emailed to say they were on the way to Lefkada!
"Isn't this a hoot?" said Victoria, when we met them on the dock in Nidri. I knew exactly what she meant. There's something incomparable about a rendezvous with friends in a foreign location, and we were in high spirits as we sat down to lunch in a waterfront restaurant. Since Elektra is Greek-Canadian, we weren't surprised to hear her converse with the waiter in fluent Greek, but it was a bigger surprise to hear Fraser chime in...what a luxury to have translators with us! We lingered at the table until mid-afternoon, then piled into Elektra's car and drove to Geni in search of a hotel, leaving Rick behind to meet Alex, who was coming to install our new stereo.
Rick and I had already had done some preliminary sleuthing and had short-listed two hotels on the Geni road. The Hotel Ilios won the day, and with the tourist season drawing to a close, two very nice double rooms were available for only 40 euros each/night. After getting the bags stowed, Fraser and Elektra drove off to the beach while Donald and Victoria and I walked down the road to Tranquil Bay, where Aisling was anchored. Our plan was to play a few hands of bridge in the cockpit until it was time to go to dinner.
Of course, things never go quite as planned. After yelling ourselves hoarse trying to get Rick's attention, he finally appeared, looking rather sheepish. "The boat is in a bit of a mess" he said. The task of installing the stereo had not gone quite as smoothly as he had anticipated, and we arrived onboard to find that the boat, which we had cleaned and tidied to an unusually high standard in preparation for Victoria and Donald's arrival, was now in complete disarray. The floorboards were up, the doors of the salon cabinets were thrown open, the content of the cabinets were strewn across the table and the new stereo was blasting out techno-rock music (but only on one speaker). Fortunately, the view from the afterdeck was a nice as ever, and we sat sipping cold white wine in the cockpit as we waited for Alex to find the corroded wire that was the source of the problem. Within half an hour everything was back to normal and we were able to enjoy some Van Morrison tunes as we played a rubber of bridge. (Never mind who won.)
In our search for hotels, we'd noticed that the restaurant at the Seaside hotel, just down the road from the Ilios, had been named the best restaurant in Lefkada by the Times. It seemed like a good choice for dinner, and with Ni and Krissy joining us we had a merry group of eight to celebrate Ni's birthday. The food may not have quite lived up to the "best restaurant" standard, but personally I am still dreaming of the warm feta cheese wrapped in filo, topped with sesame seeds and honey.
With not everyone feeling confident about their sea legs, we decided that Aristotle Onassis' private island, Scorpios, would be an ideal destination for a day-sail. Obviously we didn't expect to be invited in for a drink (setting foot beyond the high-water mark on the beach is not permitted) but it's a lovely place to anchor and swim. So the next day, we motored out and "circumnavigated" the island, taking note of the small beach house that was a favourite hideout of Jackie O's. Her wedding to Onassis took place here, presumably in the small chapel on the island that is now the final resting place of Aristotle and both of his children. The staff put fresh flowers on the tombs every day, but there is no one there to see them- a sad end to what was meant to be a dynasty. If Onasssis bought the island of Scorpios to find solitude, he certainly has it now. The only surviving Onassis is Athina, the daughter of Christina, who apparently never visits the island. Rumours abound that Athina plans to sell the island, which is said to be worth $200 million. The Emir of Qatar is high on the list of potential buyers (along with Ralph Lauren and Bill Gates) and perhaps this explains the Emir's recent visit to the area. In case you were wondering, here's what a billionaire's view looks like:
As we anchored the boat, there was no one else in sight, but within 15 minutes our peace and quiet was shattered by the arrival of a day-tripper boat. Another arrived a few minutes later. Music blasted from their loudspeakers and tourists streamed onto the beach. They weren't making enough noise to wake the dead though, because Ari did not appear.
Oh well. It was still a perfect day, in water so clear that we could stand on the deck and watch the fish swimming around the boat. Here are Victoria and Elektra, swimming with the fishes!
As we ate lunch, we waved away the wasps that seem endemic in this part of the Ionian, and pieced together the few bits of gossip that we remembered about the Onassis story. Was Jackie Kennedy really paid a large sum of money to marry him? Or did she see the marriage as an avenue to ensure the privacy and safety of her children? What about Maria Callas? My curiosity was piqued by our conversation, and later I was surprised to read that Onassis was born in Smyrna to a wealthy family that became refugees after the great fire, when Smyrna was taken by Turkey and renamed as Izimir. It's a riches to rags to riches story, but without a happy ending.
After lunch, we finally ventured to the beach. I'm saying "Jackie Kennedy stood here"! I wonder if Maria Callas did too? (Doesn't this photo look like it was taken by a paparazzo?)
On the way back to Tranquil Bay, we even managed to get the jib out for a while. There wasn't much wind, but at least we could really claim to have gone for a day-sail!
The next day, the Donald, Victoria, Fraser and Elektra went off to explore Lefkada, but we rejoined them in the evening for dinner at Demetrius' taverna.
Even after dark, we could see fish swimming in the water beside our dockside table.
There was no sign of the little girl who played at taking our order when we ate there two years ago, but her older sister was already working as a waitress. (The following week, Demetrius' dock became the repository for items salvaged after the storm and we finally saw the younger girl, now a sturdy five year old.)
Our time together was too short. The next day, they headed off to tour the Peloponnese. We wished we could go with them to see Olympia, but it was time for us to prepare for our passage to Sicily.
In spite of a taxi, bus and metro strike, Donald and Victoria managed to catch their flight out of Athens to Paris, taking off just minutes before the air traffic controller strike began! Travelling in Greece these days may require an "expect the unexpected" approach - but I think we all agree that it is worth the effort!
|Greece Ionian & Gulf of Corinth||
Even though we'd spent nearly a month in Lefkada in 2009, we hadn't seen much of the interior of the island. This time, we were determined to get beyond Nidri's tourist strip. But first, the "de rigueur" stop at George's Chandlery where, after weeks of searching, we finally find a replacement for our man-overboard pole. If you need something for your boat, drop in to see George. If he doesn't have it, he will find it.
The next order of business is renting a motorbike. We drop in at a rental agency to ask about prices, and the proprietor is looking as glum as an undertaker. He asks what we think about the crisis in Greece, then launches into a torrent of complaints about the economy, the government, and Germany. Like many Greeks, he is worried about the future and angry with the government. His tirade goes on too long and we make our escape. The next day, we rent our motorbike from an agency further down the street.
It's handy to have wheels. We snap on our helmets and head for Lefkas town, where we hoped to find a replacement for our stereo. After 10 years, and a long period where it would alternately play only on the speakers in the cockpit, then only on the speakers in the cabin (but never where we wanted it to) our old Blaupunkt had finally given up the ghost. A bit of searching leads us to a car stereo shop on a back street, where we order a Clarion stereo from a young man named Alex. For an extra 30 euros, Alex will bring the stereo to the boat and install it. Unfortunately, the stereo won't arrive until Wednesday, the day that our friends Donald and Victoria are arriving, but Rick assures me that it won't be a problem. "He'll probably just have to plug it; it should be a quick job".
Happy at the prospect of having music onboard again, we head for the Lidl store to stock up on provisions. Our enthusiasm for the great bargains makes it a little difficult to carry it all on the small bike, but somehow we manage it. Back at the boat, we have bags covering every surface and Rick is defrosting the freezer, stripped down to his underwear to beat the heat, when Roger and Pam (Cap d'Or) drop by to say hello. Obviously we can't invite them in, but we ask them to come back later to have a drink with us. We immediately hit it off, and end the evening with promises to get together again for a rubber of bridge, but our plans are derailed by the storm in Vlicho Bay. Later, we hear that Roger has broken his arm when he was thrown across the cockpit during the storm. Link to Rick's blog posting about the storm
Meanwhile, Finalmente has pulled in, and the next day Ni and Krissy decide to join us for a motorbike tour of the island. Our first stop is Vassiliki, a renowned wind-surfing location on the south of the island. We first head for the ferry dock, where we hope to get information on the schedule for departures to Cephalonia for Donald and Victoria. Finding the ticket office deserted, we have iced coffees at a café on the waterfront and ask the waitress about the ferry. "Umm....is finish" she replies....a dreaded phrase we are well familiar with, having heard it many times before in reference to the supply of cold coffee, a special of the day or our choice of wine at dinner. For a ferry, though, the meaning isn't quite as obvious. Is the ferry finished for the day? For the season? Or forever? Eventually we realize the service has ended for the season, which will be a big disappointment for Donald and Victoria.
Back on the bikes, we head up into the hills and cross toward the northwest side of the island, where Lefkada's most beautiful beaches are located. Our plans change a bit when Ni waves us over and tells us the fuel light on their bike has come on. Surely there will be a fuel station soon. Thankfully, our bike still has half a tank...or does it? A few minutes later, our fuel light comes on too. The bikes are guzzling gasoline on the steep hills, and it is a huge relief when we see a sign pointing the way to a petrol station near Agios Nikitas. At least we're mainly going downhill now, and we're coasting on the fumes when we finally arrive at the station. The owner is also selling large jars of honey, with an amazing flavor. We buy some, planning to bring it back to Nova Scotia, but are unable to resist opening it to eat on our toast the next morning.
At Agios Nikitas, we walk through the pretty cobblestone village and have lunch at a fish taverna with a view of the beach.
Rick looks out over the water and wonders if he can see Corfu in the distance. It's a dream location, and although we linger at our table for over an hour, we cannot possibly eat all the food we are served. Before we leave, the waiter takes us behind the counter to see a photo of an angry sea on the beach during a winter storm. Although lovely in summer, it must be very bleak here in January.
Now we are off to Karya, a mountain village near Lefkada. We follow a sign to the Folklore museum, where an elderly man is sitting outside with an elderly dog. They greet us eagerly, and although we hadn't fully decided to go inside, we quickly realize that we will cause great disappointment if we do not. The elderly man is Theodoris Karapodis, a former folk dancer and the driving force behind the creation of the museum, which is located in his family home. He speaks little English, but walks us from room to room, giving us a snapshot of rural Greek life.
One unique piece is a dowry letter from the year 1765, in which a father, on behalf of himself and his dead wife, permits his daughter Angeliki to marry Kostaki, to "take care of him day and night". Many of the displays in the museum feature the embroidery of Maria Koutsochero, a one-armed woman who created a type of embroidery unique to Lefkada and established a school to teach the village girls the technique. We can't imagine how anyone can embroider with only one arm, but Theodoris gives Krissy and me a lesson and it all becomes clear.
As we leave, we pass a table where samples of the embroidery, made by Theodoris' sister, are on display. Krissy and I buy small handkerchiefs at a shockingly steep price, but we remind ourselves that embroidering with only one hand is very time consuming!
The Karya village square seems a world away from the tourist bustle of Nidri. A massive plane trees shades the large courtyard where old men sit drinking coffee. Most of the seats are empty-perhaps because it is late afternoon, or perhaps because the tourist season is winding to a close.
An old woman dressed in traditional black shops for groceries, and as I furtively snap a picture I realize that we are observing a way of life and style of dressing that likely will not exist in 20 years' time.
We wonder why the women never seem to be with their husbands in the coffee shops, but as we drive out of town we see a group of women, gathered at a table in the shady courtyard of a small house.
On the steep ride downhill to Nidri, the white-knuckle switchbacks and the views from the look-offs are breathtaking. As we snap this photo of Vlicho bay, we have no idea that this will later serve as our image of "the calm before the storm." Three days later, we will be hit by hurricane-force winds while lying at anchor here.
It is twilight when we arrive at the crossroad to Nidri at the bottom of the mountain. After only one day of exploring, it's clear why Lefkada is considered to be one of Greece's most beautiful islands.
|Greece Ionian & Gulf of Corinth||
According to Wikipedia, there are over a million olive trees on the small island of Cephalonia (aka Kefallonia). That's about 3333 olive trees per square mile and over 25 olive trees for every person. I suppose if you ran the same statistics for spruce trees in Nova Scotia you would come up with equally large numbers, but somehow, to a Canadian, the concept of a million olive trees has a magic that even 10 million spruce trees couldn't begin to match.
We almost missed the whole thing. After two unsuccessful attempts to get our anchor set in the rocky little bay at Euphemia, Rick was threatening to head for Ithaci. On our third attempt, we finally managed to get dug into a little patch of sand just off the breakwater. Then, before we'd even flipped the tab of a near-beer, we'd become the preferred party destination for the neighborhood wasps. With Aisling rocking back and forth like a roly-poly in the swell, this wouldn't be our favourite anchorage ever, but at least we weren't planning on spending a lot of time aboard.
Euphemia is a sleepy little place that doesn't even rate an entry in our Lonely Planet guidebook. Predictably, there is a "Captain Corelli''s café, (this being the area where the book and the movie were set), as well as several tavernas, a bakery, a few small supermarkets and happily, a motorbike rental agency. We paid 25 euros a day to rent a bike, which was double what we would have paid in a larger town, but at least it was a good-sized one with a comfortable seat.
A sign in the shop warns us sternly that wearing a helmet is required by law, and failure to do so could result in an immediate fine of up to 350 euros. As Canadians, we accept helmets as a part of life when you ride a bike, but the Greeks are defiant. Driving bare-headed seems to be the norm and we aren't at all surprised to see a carefree young man steering with one hand while having an animated conversation on a cellphone; his helmet dangling by its strap from the handlebar. One might think that the sheer number of roadside shrines around here would give him pause for thought, but apparently not.
Since Cephalonia is only about an eighth of the size of Prince Edward Island, distances are short. Still, the 33 km to Fiscardo is a long ride as we slowly navigate the sharp switchbacks and steep grades. The reward is the spectacular scenery, with limestone cliffs and cedar forests plunging down to water of intense and varying shades of blue and turquoise. We stop at a lay-by overlooking Myrtos Beach (billed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world) and literally gasp at the beauty.
When we finally reach Fiskardo, it is a bit of a disappointment. Having read Rod Heikell's charming description of the village, which was the only one to remain unharmed by the 1953 earthquake that devastated the island, I was expecting something quaint and authentic. There are clearly more tourists than Greeks here, and the quay is crammed with souvenir shops on land and charter boats on the water, but the pastel colours of the houses make an attractive backdrop.
We decide not to linger, and instead head back toward Assos, where a Venetian fortress looms over a tiny town that seems to have flowers dripping from every wall and balcony. I never tire of bougainvillea and here they have multiple varieties (magenta, pink, white and peach) as well as oleander, trumpet vine, hibiscus and a thriving array of other garden blooms. We settle in the shade at Platanos taverna for lunch and share plates of briam and Cephalonian meat pie. "This briam is not as good as mine" says Rick, then catches himself and says "or I should say, it's not as good as the briam we've had elsewhere". It's true that the briam is not as good as the recipe he makes at home, but the meat pie is delicious, chunks of meat mixed with rice and herbs (and cinnamon?) and covered with a flaky crust. When we pay our bill, we ask if the service charges are included. "No" says the owner. "On September 1st the tax on food was increased from 13% to 23%. We are worried that this is very bad for business, so we decided to give up our service charge". These are tough times for Greece.
The view from the fortress is said to be fantastic, but our time is marching by and we have other places to see. Onward to Argostoli, the capital of the island, population roughly 10,000. On the outskirts, we pause to look inside a small church, and find painters at work, carefully restoring the ornate gilt that highlights the artwork and moldings. We peek under one of the sheets of plastic and find a painting of Agia Marina, with little gold and silver votive plaques portraying various body parts lined up underneath. We continue along a eucalyptus-shaded road into the town, which is a bustling spot, with an attractive square and a busy waterfront. We pause for a "freddo cappuccino" and wonder who owns the huge yacht with a helicopter on deck that is docked on the waterfront. Later, we read the blog of our friends Sandra and Chris on Deep Blue (see their blog here Deep Blue )and learn that the Emir of Qatar is in town.
The strong cappuccino keeps us on our toes for the drive across the island toward Sami. Even though we have climbed high into the hills, it is so hot that at times we feel like the vent of a raging furnace is blowing heated air over us. In places the hillsides have been ravaged by fire. But we also pass through fertile valleys, where huge bunches of grapes drip from vines. Perhaps these are the robola grapes used to the highly-regarded wine of Cephalonia.
Next stop is the massive, 2 million year old Drogarati cave, where we are the only visitors. We creep down the slippery steps to the huge cavern, where the huge stalactites are illuminated by lights that are causing a gradual erosion. The damage is obvious, but the cave is magnificent; an unforgettable experience. No photos allowed, and although Rick, true to form, snapped one anyway (without a flash) it didn't really come out so we'll have to leave it to your imagination.
We continue on to the nearby Melissani cave, with its subterranean lake. Apparently, back in the 1950s, some scientists put dye into the water of a stream that disappeared underground near Argostoli and the dye reappeared in this lake, indicating that the water traverses the island underground and emerges here. We walk down a steep carpeted ramp toward the lake, which has an intense blue colour when viewed from the ramp but is less dramatic close-up (perhaps because we have not visited between the recommended hours of noon and 2 p.m.).
An oarsman helps us into a wooden rowboat, where we are soon joined by a Greek family with a teen-age daughter who is clearly delighted by the lake. As the oarsman slowly paddles us around the lake, I can't shake the feeling that I am on a Disneyworld ride, and the song "It's a Small World" plays and replays in my head for the rest of the afternoon. Our Lonely Planet had been right to suggest that the lake is over-rated, but if we hadn't checked it out for ourselves, how would we have known?
After a quick drive through Sami, we arrive back in Euphemia before sunset and return the motorbike to the shop. Leftover pasta for dinner and an early bedtime seem a bit of a let-down after such a fantastic day. Cephalonia is clearly worthy of a longer visit at a more relaxed pace, but we are happy to have had at least a glimpse of it. Next stop Ithaci!
|Greece Ionian & Gulf of Corinth||