Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kefalonia, Greece ~ 10 Reasons Why It Should Be Your NEXT Get~Away Destination~!!

The island of Kefalonia, Greece (also known as Cephalonia) is the largest of all the Iconic Islands that are located in Western Greece.  The island is approx. 781 sq. km and the capital city is Argostoli.

The Island derives its name from the Greek mythological story of Cephalus.  The name means "head" and the Island of Kefalonia has an unusual head like shape about it.  The 45,000 inhabitants living on the island are friendly and approachable making this a rare tourist gem.

The many beaches surrounding the island offer soft, fine sand and clear blue waters.  The beaches are ideal for families, couples, groups and is suitable for both business and pleasure.  There is plenty to do and explore as you inhale the beauty that is around you.

Some of the more explorable and interesting areas to see in Kefalonia:

1.  St. Gerasmis and the Mazarakata Tombs:  For an educational day out stop by the old monastery of St. Gerasmis, Patron Saint of Kefalonia.  Once there you can visit his mummified body lying interred in a casket kept over the tombs in which he lived as a hermit.  The Tombs are located below the monastery and can be reached by climbing down to the cavern below.  The history of the island and the people who helped shape her are shared in an interesting and insightful manner.

2.  The Monstaries:  There are numerous Monasteries to explore, other than the one found at St. Gerasmis.  Some of these places will have graves which date back to the Mycenaean times and offer visitors the chance to peruse their extensive island history.

3.  St. Andreas:  During an earthquake in 1953, a former convent from Byzantine times suffered great damage and though much of the older foundation wasn't to be salvaged, they were able to turn a portion of the convent into a museum.  After the earthquake it was revealed that there were 16th century frescoes under the plaster.  Also to be noted is the many relics and vestaments to be found in the museum and most notably the soul of St. Andrea's right foot.

4.  Metaxata:  Stop by the quaint village of Metaxata and breathe in its surroundings.  Here you will also have the opportunity to visit the house of the famous poet Lord Byron.

5.  Melissani Lake:  One of the islands greatest treasures, Melissani Lake is a magnificent underground lake with the most amazing crystal clear blue waters that shimmer green/blue as you glide across its surface.  You can take a tour boat to the caves, the ceiling collapsed in the earthquake of 1953, but you are still able to view the 1000 year old stalachites and take in the wonder of ancient times, in which the cave was once used by the worshippers of the God Pan and the nymph Melissan.

6.  Mount Ainos Mountain:  Stands as Greece's 3rd highest mountain and offers a wondrous panoramic view of the island and surrounding waters.  It sits 1626 m above sea level and you will find the forests surrounding the mountain to be filled with much flora and fauna, perfect for any nature lover, interesting to note is the goats and rabbits have gilt or silver-plated teeth due to the make up of the soil.  On top of the mountain you will find radio/television towers as well as a radar base for NATO however, the trek to the top is truly worthy of the view and who knows, you may even spot some wild horses frolicking on the south eastern slopes.

7.  Drogarati Cave:  This naturally formed cave is over 150 million years old with steps leading down to a path which is comfortable to traverse, having been hammered upon from stalagmites and stalactites and has near pitch perfect acoustics making it a great venue for summer concerts and performances.

8.  St. Georgois Castle:  The castle of St. George dates back to the Byzantine period however, the current structure has been dated to the 16th century.  After the Venetians conquered the Turks, this became the capital of their new colony and was the capital of the island until 1757.  The thick 20ft wide, 82ft high walls were more than enough to shelter the people from the threats of pirate raids or hostile forces.

9.  Captain Corelli's Mandolin:  Nicholas Cage, Penelope Cruz and John Hurt starred in the film, "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" written by Louis de Bernieres.  During the summer of 2000 the actors and film crews set about to recreate the village of Sami in order to complete the film project.  You can visit the town and walk the streets once occupied by the film production and relive the memories from yesteryear.

10.  Loggerhead Turtles:  Kaminia Beach is a nesting ground for Loggerhead Turtles and are protected by the Turtle Protection Society.  In 1994 an old schoolhouse was converted to become the headquarters of the Katelios Group for the Research and Protection of Marine and Terrestrial Life. 

Need a place to stay while on the Island??  If your not into the camping scene, which the Island does accommodate for those who wish to live off the land and experience the Island as it was meant to or you could stay in any one of the Islands hotels or resorts.

The Fiskardo Hotel's offer something for everyone, from 2 star hotels to 5 star suites to apartment accommodations, there is ample places for you to match your style and pocketbook.

Each has spacious pools and are located within walking distance to the beach; offering you the choice of both worlds.  A perfect place to relax as you watch the stunning sunsets amid the Eucalyptus Trees.

You can take one of the many offered tour packages offered on the island or choose to explore it on your own, either way the memories will last a lifetime.  Need help getting around the Island or need help with the Greek language?  Then visit the Friends of the Ionian who offer pamphlets on the local places of interests as well as any festivities and events happening in Kefalonia.

Whether you are a romantic couple or a family with children there is something for everyone to do and explore in Kefalonia, Greece.  Whether its splashing around in the  world's fifth most beautiful beach, located at Myrtos, the walks through the vineyards and strawberry trees, or traversing underground lakes and caves,  you will find magic and wonder in all that you do~!!

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** Disclosure: I received a small stipend for this post~!! **