Sunday, 17 June 2012

The journey home was easy

All holidays come to an end and after a week on this Greek island paradise, we had to come home. The return trip was the reverse of the outward and took almost exactly the same time.

A speedboat took us to the mainland, then a coach to the airport where there were very long queues and it was very hot because the air conditioning in the terminal was turned off to save money (austerity rears its head yet again). The same plane as on the outward journey flew the reverse route and we

Flight back from preveza

landed at Gatwick to a temperature of 17C compared to the 37C we had left three hours earlier.

And so, 10 hours after we left the Hotel Meganisi, we opened our front door to a cold house in a wet country and to a garden which had grown frantically whilst we were away.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Meganisi: Walks, food and odds and ends


There is little to do on Meganisi other than walk, swim, eat and enjoy drinking a cold beer or two whilst gazing at the views. If you enjoy walking, you can choose any combination of roads on the above map and you will invariably find something worth seeing and usually find a taverna or two along the way.

We managed a few walks before the weather became too hot and one was the walk through Atherinos Bay to the beach at Fanari. The bay is popular with yacht

Taverna Niagas

charterers (there were 40 moored when we walked through) and the above picture of the Niagis Taverna is shown simply to remind us of the superb honey and yogurt they serve together with freshly squeezed orange juice – and by freshly squeezed we mean that they squeeze the oranges and immediately give you the juice to drink rather than giving you “fresh orange juice” from a carton. It is a traditional family taverna as compared to the “Yacht Club” taverna also in the bay.

Slowly fishing

Fishing the traditional way is very common around Meganisi and the fisherman above was slowly puttering up and down the bay trawling for fish. His boat was only moving at a few kms/hr and he was totally at peace with his task. 

Hotel from Atherinos Bay 2

The bay also provides an opposite direction view to that which can be seen from our balcony – the Hotel is in the upper centre of this photograph.

Fisherman returning

Often when you are sitting at Fanari Beach just watching the sea, small fishing boats returning from their night’s work pass you by.

Walking in a different direction takes you to

Boat at Sea

Elia Beach where the early morning view is quite magical. This view is towards Kalamos Pat by Sea

Island and behind it, the Greek mainland. Sometimes in the rocks, you come across a mermaid.

Christina’s Cooking

There are numerous websites devoted to Greek cuisine but for our own pleasure we are including a few photographs of the food we ate, most of it prepared by Christina at the Hotel Meganisi.



Big Beans Tzatsiki

Big Beans  Green Beans

Green Beans in Tomato Sauce

Greek Salad

Greek Salad



Icecream honey yogurt

Homemade Honey and Yoghurt Ice Cream

Yoghurt and Honey

Honey and Yoghurt

Meganissi Food

A meal fit for a Queen (she did not eat it all).

Although the menu was always “all the usual starters; the usual barbecues; fresh fish…..”,  there was always a new main dish every night such as Pastichio, or Stuffed Peppers or Lamb cooked in the oven ….. everything was home cooked and the portions were enormous, hence I put on 2 kg during the week.

Flora and a little Fauna

For you dear reader, this is more a task of “name that plant” rather than an opportunity to read a discourse on the flora of Meganisi.

Flower 5 

So, if you know the name of one of these plants please use the comments section to tell


us. The above seems to be a variant of the

Thistle Head

Thistle and the flower heads were teeming with flies and wasps.

Bougainvilia 2 Bourgainvilea

Bougainvillea is very common throughout the island and luckily it was in full flower when we were there.


This flower was very common and a great favourite with butterflies.

Flower 1 

This was a very common plant throughout the island and was towards the end of its flowering period when we were there.

Flower 2

The bush is slightly thorny and the pods are slightly hairy.

Flower 3 These small blue stars were very prickly.

Flower 4

This smelt mildly aromatic.


Olive trees were everywhere of course and by June, the trees had started to grow olives. Judging from the size of the tree trunks, we were seeing a number of trees which were many hundreds of years old.


A very common sight along Greek roads is the roadside shrine and they seem to come in every shape and size and invariably had a lighted oil lamp inside together with a number of icons. We never saw anyone tending them but suspect the numerous black widows we would meet when at walking.

Shrine 3 Shrine 5
Shrine 4 Shrine 1

Shrines are sometimes every 100 metres along the busier roads. One might be tempted to assume that the large number is directly related to the quality of Greek driving, apparently this is not the case. Whilst some shrines are erected to mark the site of an accident, they are also erected to give thanks for good fortune.

Chapel 2

Those who have been particularly fortunate sometimes build chapels such as the above which is on the road from Vathy up to Katomeri.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Meganissi: Katomeri, Vathy and Spilia


Our hotel is in Katomeri which is the capital of the island. Why it is the capital we do not know because it seems to be the smallest of the three villages on the island.


Viewed from a passing satellite, the largest feature of the village is the football pitch. The hotel is adjacent to the blue square (the swimming pool) in the top of the above photograph.

Main Street

The “main street” which twists through the village is not wide enough for cars to pass but since there are so few cars, this rarely becomes a problem except when a lorry

Traffic 1 Baker

Stuck Lorry

The Village Baker

decides it has to go through the village and gets stuck at the Baker’s house.

Katomeri Church

As with many Greek villages, the Church is at the centre of the village.

Red House The village is full of alleyways, and lovely old houses (plus a few modern less attractive ones). The red house here is even more of a charm to see when the sunblind is not there – painted bright red with lots of flowers on the patio. This alleyway is also on the main bus

Town Square

route because just past the house is the main square (also the location of the public phone).

Katomeri Old House 

The white house above is also on the main street and when the family came into money they built the larger house behind the original white house.


Rather biblical looking olive orchards fill in the space between houses – no doubt in future years they will be built on.


On the edge of the village is a field full of rather scraggy sheep wearing traditional sheep bells which clang as they move around.

WindmillThe island used to have quite a large number of windmills on all high spots. These days the only evidence for them is the round stone base. This one is in Katomeri.


and this one (the Pat with windmill on hillwhite tower on the crest of the hillside) overlooks Atherinos Bay. When the windmills here were being used, they looked very similar to those on Mykanos.

To describe Katomeri as “enchanting” is to do it a dis-service, it is more than that. Whilst it has its fair share of concrete and partially completed buildings, it also has a lot of older looking buildings or images which remind you that this was how the whole of Greece must have looked years ago.

Some forty years ago we were in Sitia in Crete (then very isolated) and whenever we walked through the town, we were greeted by people or included in a conversation (although we speak no Greek) – the same happened in Katomeri this week.

We will always remember the baker’s discourse on football (no idea what he was saying but he was very passionate) and his distain for the accuracy of the bus timetable displayed in his shop. We will also remember the widows working hard at old looms making lace in the old style for sale to tourists and the old man we came across beating an octopus with a large piece of wood in order to tenderise it for supper (at least we assume that was the reason rather than a general hatred of octopi).



There are two ports on the island – Vathy (above) has two visits a day from the inter-island ferry and is the most “port like” of the two ports.


Quayside seen from the ferry

Vathy Harbour 2

a view across the harbour

Vathy Harbour cleaning fish

cleaning fish in the harbour water

The quayside looks like a Greek quayside should look with boats, fishermen mending nets, numerous quayside cafes and a number of sailing charters which moor in either the bottom right or top left of the photograph above – the cafes and general town life stretches between these two points.


At night, the village is full of tourists eating at the tavernas along the quayside – fresh fish is

Vathy at Night 1 Vathy at Night 2

guaranteed since it is landed only a few metres away every morning.

In June the town is quiet, and when we were here it was hot at 37C and not a cloud in the sky. The town has numerous views which

Vathy-4 Vathy-2

are exactly like those which one expects to find in Greece.


This is in fact a bus stop in Vathy and the red chair is for the use of an old lady who waits for the bus each day.


Greece does not manage its rubbish very well and here there seems recycling. Litter abounds even though there are numerous large bins along the roadside.


Stray rather flea ridden and thin looking cats are everywhere.


This old store in on the quayside and the herbs in the pots growing against the wall are used by the adjacent taverna.

Spartochori and Spilia

The other port on the island is at Spilia which is directly below the village of Spartochori (below) which is also the location of the other hotel on the island – a recently built modern hotel designed for the safe-traveller.


Before austerity, the ferry sailed from Nydri (on the mainland) to Spilia then around the coast to Vathy and then back to Nidri. Now it sails from Nydri to Spilia five times a day and goes on to Vathy only twice a day. Times given on the ferry website are different in Greek to those given in English and neither seem to be the same as what actually happens.

Spilia hardly qualifies to be called a port, it is more of a jetty and a seaside taverna.

Spilia Port

The ferry trip from Meganissi across to Nydri and back is a great slow boat trip with wonderful scenery and is worth doing just for the ride (it is also cheap at €3.80 return). Because the weather was getting increasingly hot and there were cooling winds out at sea, one day we decided to get the 1045 ferry from Spilia to Nydri, have lunch there and get the 1400 ferry back to Vathy and another day we got the 1215 back from Nydri, got off at Spilia for lunch and then got the 1425 ferry round to Vathy.

To get from Katomeri to Spilia there are two choices – walk the 5 kms (about 1 hour in the very hot sun) or take the slightly erratically timetabled bus (the bus usually tries to meet every ferry arrival) for only €1.20 from near our hotel. The bus stops in the village are  

Bus Timetableclearly marked but when we asked “which direction will the bus come from?” we were given the relatively unique answer of “well, it all depends on where the bus driving is living that day. If he is living is Spilia it will come from the left and if he is living in Vathy, it will come from the right”.

Today the driver was living in Spilia and so we

Island Bus

drove down to Vathy and then along the coast, back up into the hills and then at an occasionally alarming speed, through narrow alleyways which in numerous places were literally only 2 cms wider than the bus once the driver had folded in the wing mirrors. From experience we deduced that the bus will stop anywhere if you hail it as it comes towards you.

Spartohoti 2

Spartohorri village is above Spilia “port” and you get down to the port by driving down a narrow winding road.

Spartohori 1The other hotel on the island is the Esperides Resort Hotel at Spartohorri and it overlooks the sea but it is some distance from the village.

The ferry runs to a surprisingly on-time timetable and when it has berthed on the run - loading ramp lowered as it approaches the quayside, use the loading ramp scraping on the ground as a brake, cars off and on quickly – passengers ditto, it then immediately goes off again. A turn-around time of five minutes is even quicker than RyanAir!

The ferry not only carries passengers and vehicles, it also carries freight, food and

Ferry-1 Unloading Nydri
Unloading Goods

perishables. It seems that if there is no one at the port to collect these items when the ferry arrives, they are left in place for collection the next time the ferry returns in a few hours time – we determined this based upon what we saw happen on the deck below us. We also saw someone selling food to people who quickly got on the boat when it docked, bought what they wanted and then got off with their purchases before it set sail again a few minutes later.

As the ferry sails to and from Nydri, it passes very close to Skorpios – not that you can see


very because it is very heavily wooded. There is a statue of Aristotle Onassis on


the esplanade in Nydri and quite a few Greek families seemed to be stopping there to have their photograph taken with him in the background

The boat also passes some beautiful seaside 

Seaside Villas Seaside Church

Seaside Villas near Nydri

Nydri Harbour Mouth Church

villas and as it approaches Nydri, is passes a traditional Church at the mouth of the Harbour intended to protect departing sailors.

Nydri has developed a bit since we were last there but in our opinion (to borrow a phrase from one of our Rough Guides) “there is little to detain the traveller”. It is very much a long

Nydri Highstreet 2

strip road with the occasional nice house but

Nydri Main Street

also with numerous restaurants offering

Nydri Highstreet 1

similar cuisine (more expensive than on Meganissi), shops selling tourist souvenirs and night clubs which (sorry if we sound rather fuddy duddy) do not interest us. It is still

Nydri North

popular as a sailing base for yacht charters and lots of new renters seemed to be on the water practising sailing in circles or in reverse.

Just before we left, we found out there is also an evening ferry to Leftkas  but we did not

Lefkas Ferry

have the time to try it out – next time perhaps.