There is a daily passenger ferry from Meganisi to Lefkas (aka Levkas, Lefkada) which enables early birds (such as ourselves if we absolutely have no other choice) to spend just over four hours in the Island’s capital city for only €4.50 each way.
The route follows the eastern coast of the island and is said to be very pleasant. So after an 0600 struggle out of bed with no breakfast, 0720 finds us on the quayside at Vathi boarding the ferry and watching the morning mist disperse -
It really does look very beautiful
and we both agree that the view of the distant mountains
is as good as those we saw in New Zealand.
Lefkas has a recorded history going back nearly 3000 years and its early power / wealth base was maritime related. Control of the channel between the island and the mainland meant control of the safe shortcut into the Ionian sea as against the longer more hazardous route around the south of the island.
However, now as then, the channel suffers from silting and so a dredging operation was in progress as we approached the port.
Our first impression as we approached the quayside was less than favourable and we both wondered how we were going to fill up 4 hours.
This area of Greece is in an active earthquake zone and as recently as 1953 there was a major quake here, hence most of the old buildings have long gone - and if they were not destroyed in an earthquake, the Greek love of concrete has seen them off.
However, once you get into the town and start exploring around the alleyways and smaller streets, there are a number of charming buildings such as these churches
which clearly show the evidence of earthquakes through the cracks in their walls.
The design of the main door is particularly nice.
They also have a rather characteristic “bell tower” which I assume is this design it is because it is relatively earthquake proof and easy to rebuild.
The main street is not too bad
and there is a nice town square which is probably a delight at night. If you go down the side streets, there are quite a lot of nice old buildings such as
but even then, the inability of town planners to ensure that buildings are both in harmony with their surroundings and the other buildings near them is evidenced
by this “delightful“ telephone building placed opposite one of the towns’ oldest standing buildings.
In the town art gallery was an exhibition of some very mature work by 8 to 10 year olds from a private school in the area.
This was of particular interest to us because my Rotary Club recently organised something similar for primary schools in our town and it was interesting to compare the standards - I thought that perhaps the overall interpretation of the task here was better than that in our recent competition.
The town also boasts an Archaeological Museum and Cultural Centre (top left hand corner of the town map above). The museum has quite a few artefacts discovered in the town and local area by Dorpfeld and Schiliemann (of Troy fame) whose work we came across last year when clambering over the remains of Troy with Andante.
Amongst those which caught our eye were:
these figurines which are puppets found in the grave of a child,
this gold leaf also found in a grave
these terracotta figures
a terracotta found in a cemetery showing Zeus transformed into a Swan ravishing Leda
some Nymphs dancing around a Flute Player from about the 6th century BC
and a most astonishing Bronze Mirror with a Caryatid stand which is said to be Aphrodite flanked by winged Erotes (a group of winged gods associated with love and sex and part of her retinue). The mirror disc has pairs of dogs, hares and flowers on it and it dates from around 450 BC.
We blame our archaeological trips with Andante as the reason that we find archaeological remains so fascinating.
The Art Gallery was being used as an exhibition space of amongst other things, library book plates and we particularly liked this one.
All-in-all, the trip to Lefkas was very enjoyable and well worth the early start and the effort.
We did very little for the remainder of our time in Menganisi which was exactly why we decided to go there for a quiet week abroad rather than the frenetic trips we usually make.
Our journey back went like clockwork, Preveza Airport seemed slightly better although the queues at check-in and security were as long as ever. I am sure that we shall go back to Meganisi when we can fit it in.