We finally left the high mountains and gorges of The Zagori and travelled south again to the island of Lefkada, on the Ionian Sea to the south of Parga site of an earlier posting.  We had, in fact, been to Lefkada previously as we had spent about a week working our way around it in ‘Icarus,’ our sailing catamaran, in 2003.  Here’s a view of Vilho Bay near the town of Nidri where we had anchored.

Vilho Bay, Nidri, Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece

Nidri is a busy tourist town, a bit garish and gaudy, but very lively at night as the main street is shut off to traffic and the party never seems to end.  It has a nice waterfront as well, from which several tour boats depart to travel around the island of Lefkada itself as well as out to a number of other islands in the vicinity.  And while we did drive around part of the island, most of what we have to show you is from our day on one of those boats, the ‘Nidri Star I,’ about 200 feet long and thoroughly overcrowded with about 400 passengers.

First stop was the town of Vasiliki, nestled in a deep bay and home to a very cute water taxi which connects the other towns around the bay.

Vasiliki, Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece_1

We then went back to Sivota Bay and took a taxi up the hill to have a look at it from above.

Sivota Bay, Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece

The town itself is home to an enormous charter boat operation that lines the waterfront with gorgeous new Bavaria sailboats.

Sivota Bay, Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece 2

Some of the waterfront shops were charming as well, with bougainvillea climbing up the fronts of the restaurants.

Sivota Bay, Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece_1

For the youth on board the ship, however, the highlights were stops at two rather dramatic and beautiful beaches. The first, called Egremni Beach, is a long sand strand below 400 foot cliffs, and the ship just went right up to the beach and everyone climbed down ladders to the sand.

Egremni Beach, Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece

Egremni Beach, Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece 3

From there we went about a mile down the shore to Porto Katsiki Beach, often described as the most beautiful in all of Greece.  The cliff face above the beach adds a great deal of drama to the whole scene, as does the long descent and ascent back up if you come to the beach from land.

Porto Katsiki, Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece 2

There were even some sailors anchored alongside who were enjoying a swim too.

Port Katsiki, Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece

Once everyone was waterlogged and toasted in the hot sun we headed further south to one of our favorite islands, Kefallonia, and to its most colorful town, Fitzcardo.  Here is set the novel “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” and where the film of the same name, starring Nicholas Cage, was being filmed when we were here in 2003.  At that time the entire town was tied up in the filming and one couldn’t even walk around for all the lights, cameras, and stages. This time it was a little easier and the shops had their own visual charm.

Fitzcardo, Kefalonia, Ionian Islands, Greece 2

Fitzcardo, Kefalonia, Ionian Islands, Greece_1

The harbor also had a cute boat or two, in this case a fishing vessel.

Fitzcardo, Kefalonia, Ionian Islands, Greece

We then departed for the quick trip across the strait to the famed island of Ithaca, Odysseus’ long sought home and long residence of the ever patient Penelope.  The town itself was beautiful and tranquil, and worth a walk up the hill for a better view.

Ithaca, Ionian Islands, Greece

Ithaca, Ionian Islands, Greece 2

As we turned for our return to Nidri we passed several curiosities.  The first was a cave at water level utilized by the Germans in World War II as a submarine shelter on the island of Meganisi.  We had seen several similar ones in Croatia earlier, but they are always interesting for their scale and the stealth employed in utilizing them.

Sub Cave

Shortly after a thunderstorm blew up and left us with a rainbow.

Rainbows, Meganisi, Ionian Islands, Greece

Nearing Nidri we went around the island of Skorpios, long owned by the billionaire and husband to Jackie Kennedy, Onassis.  He left it to his daughter Christina, who has since leased it for 99 years to a Russian billionaire since the Greek government would not allow her to sell it.  He, in turn, has invested millions into it and had thrown a party the week before we were there so large that it required 500 staff to serve it.  He has given the island to his daughter as a birthday present and that includes her personal yacht with water slide attached.

Skorpios, Ionian Islands, Greece

Close to Nidri and our home port the thunderstorms returned.  The lightning seemed to be just above our heads, the thunder was deafening, the rain was as heavy as we have ever seen, and the winds were a steady 30 miles per hour with gusts up into the 40’s.  When we arrived at our dock the Captain decided to circle for ten minutes in hopes that the winds would diminish, but they persisted. Finally he aligned the ship with the narrow slip we had on the docks and drove the ship in reverse perfectly into our spot in spite of the winds from the port side.  It was an amazing performance on the Captain’s part.

Storm, Nidri, Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece