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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thyme and history

We've just got back from our annual holiday in Greece. We went to the island of Kefalonia, the biggest of the Ionians.


On arrival I was surprised at how modern and prosperous the island looked. I had forgotten to swot up from my book of Greek islands and didn't know the island had suffered a terrible earthquake in 1953 which destroyed 90% of the buildings. So it lacks the little white houses of Greece, but strewn around the hillside you can see the ruined buildings.

It's a very lush and green island, heavy with the smells of thyme and rosemary which grow everywhere.

Our base was the beautiful hotel Regina Dell Acqua in Skala, built on a hill with a stunning infinity pool.

We learnt a lot of the history of Kefalonia when we took the ferry to nearby Ithaca, the smallest Ioanian island. Odysseus is believed to have very strong links with both places and we saw a bust of him in the square of Stavros village. There we also sampled the Ithacan speciality, rovani, a sticky honey cake. We learnt the origin of the phrase "beware of Greeks bearing gifts." When Oddyseus built the wooden horse to reclaim Helen of Troy, it was assumed to be a gift from a defeated army. The "victors" went off to celebrate, the horse opened and out ran Odysseus and his top soldiers who overran the Greeks and claimed victory after a 10 year war. 

On an outing to the capital of Kefalonia, Argostoli, we happened to be there for a ceremony to mark the Special Olympics which take place in Athens in July. With a great deal of fanfare athletes ran by, a torch burned and Kefalonian dancers entertained us.

Our return home unfortunately coincided with the Greek national strike. The tiny island airport had queues of people snaking around the building. The problem appeared to be that all the check-in PCs were down. I'm not sure if this was strike related. The pilot referred to it as a "bit of a kerfuffle" at the airport. It was an amazing achievement that everyone was checked in manually, laboriously, with hand written boarding passes.

All in all a fabulous holiday! I'll add some photos when Blogger gets over its picture problem - I have tried with two different browsers but no good.

2 comments:

Anne @ The Frump Factor said...

Oh, I'm so envious! Greek Isles are a fantasy of mine. So glad you had a great time.

400 Wakeups said...

I have had to stop watching the news because every time there is a death in Iraq, I pace the living room floor until Neal is able to call. This means that I am unusually behind on current affairs. But Neal did say that is a good thing we had crossed Greece off of our list of possible places for his r&r because now the Army won't even let him go there. I'm glad your holiday was not terribly ruined by Greece's upheavals right now. It's a beautiful country and I hope to see it one day...y'know...when they stabilize just a bit.

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