As you all know by now, Mr M and I love our travel. We also love Greece, and it’s been the setting for our summer hollibobs for the past few years now. We’ve been to Zakynthos, Lekfas, Corfu, and Kefalonia so far – with many, many more on the list. There’s just so much to love about Greece and its islands – beautiful scenery, fab weather, AMAZING food, and lovely people. What’s not to like?
This year, we returned to Kefalonia with my mum for what was her first trip to Greece. She kindly booked a beautiful a villa for the three of us to stay in just outside a little fishing village on the south of the island and we headed off for a week of R&R, sunshine and fabulous food.
Our villa was a beautiful hideaway, tucked halfway up a hill just outside the fishing village of Katelios. It was rather luxurious, I have to admit, with an amazing pool and gardens, beautiful views down to the sea, and a gorgeously-finished interior.
Katelios is a lovely little fishing village about a 15-minute drive from the much larger resort of Skala. I have to say, it’s much better suited to what Mr M and I like from a holiday than a big resort. A little strip with some nice restaurants and a few bars, most with waterside settings, and that’s about it. No big hotels, no loud nightclubs (god I sound old), and no big gangs of people. Just a sleepy little village full of holidaymakers all after the same thing – nice food and drink in a relaxing setting.
One of the things I love most about Greece is the food. Seafood caught that day, rich meat dishes packed with flavour, salads, feta, and amazing dips. Most of our first few days was spent lounging by the pool at our villa and exploring the restaurants in the village. Fresh grilled fish, mezze like ‘gigantes’ (big beans), stuffed vine leaves, tzatziki and Mr M’s favourite Greek dip, tirokafteri, basically a spicy cheese dip. Oh and there was plenty on offer for my mum, who’s a bit of a fan of pudding, though the enormous slices of Baklava were a bit much even for her.
The selection of restaurants in Katelios was easily enough for a week-long holiday. On one night we met up with my pal Lianne who was out in Kefalonia with her parents, staying in nearby Lassi. They came over to Katelios and the six of us tried out Cozy Bar and Restaurant, where the food is a bit different to the average Greek taverna out there. Not quite fine dining but slightly more refined than some of the other dishes, with a bit more attention to the presentation.
With such a beautiful setting at our villa, we decided to take advantage of it one night along with our massive barbecue on the terrace. We were pointed in the direction of the local butcher – a foodie experience in and of itself. Up on the hill above Katelios, we followed our directions to the little shop. Hidden in the back was an old-fashioned ‘meat locker’, stacked full of fresh meat and homemade sausages. We watched as some hunks of pork were hacked off for our tea, then took them home for a meaty feast in our gorgeous ‘back garden’.
Each holiday Mr M and I go on usually includes a day of exploration, and we couldn’t miss it out on this occasion – especially given that my mum hadn’t seen any of the island. So after a few days of R&R, we climbed in our hire car for a roadtrip.
In case you didn’t know, the film version of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed entirely on Kefalonia, so you can do a tour of some of the locations that you see in the film, from Mount Ainos to Sami. They include the beautiful Myrtos Beach, which is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.
We also stopped off at the gorgeous Melissani Lake near Sami, an underground lake discovered in the 1950s. The hole above it allows sunshine to shine through like a natural spotlight shining on the turquoise water below. For a few Euros you get rowed around the lake by cheery Greek men who give regular updates on exactly how deep the clear water below you is while you enjoy a reprieve from the heat. Nearby is the Drogarati Cave, complete with impressive stalagmites and stalactites.
Our next stop was the picturesque yachters paradise of Fiskardo, right on the north of the island. I’d loved it last time we visited, complete with its beautifully well-kept harbour designed to cater for the regular influx of boating fans that arrive regularly. Boutique shops, nice restaurants and bars, and event a fabulous ice-cream bar. This time we also discovered the older part of Fiskardo, even more charming, and on the list as a future place to stay.
We lunched in Fiskardo at one of the harbourside restaurants Elli’s, and it would certainly go down as one of the best lunches of the holiday (apart from maybe the Greek salad Jamie had made me at the villa a few days earlier).
After a gorgeous aubergine dip that rivalled even Jamie’s beloved Tirokafteri, my mum opted for seafood saganaki – something I’ve raved about before on this blog – full of all sorts of fresh seafood in a spicy tomato and melted feta sauce. Jamie went for a seafood pasta that was fresh and tasted simply of the sea. I went complete off-piste and had cuttlefish stifado, a variation on a Greek staple and packed with rich, sweet flavour with a slight heat.
Our final stop of the day was Assos, the place Jamie and I stayed on our last trip. It stole my heart the last time, and I loved it just as much as soon as we returned. It’s romantic, beautiful, and a place where time stood still. The village nestles in a horse-shoe shaped harbour that’s surrounded on all sites thanks to a peninsula that sticks out and is home to an old Venetian Fortress, whose remains you can walk up to above Assos.
Apartments are dotted above the village on either side, as well as a few super-luxurious villas. There are just a few restaurants, I think four at the max, and a tiny little beach where you can wile away the days. We arrived late afternoon just in time to catch a few hours of late afternoon sun and a swim in the clear, cool water of the sheltered bay.
The beauty of Assos wasn’t the only thing that was just as great as I’d remembered. For dinner we returned to one of its restaurants Platanos, a proper Greek family affair in the centre of the village. Their food is absolutely wonderful and if you go to Assos you simply must eat here.
We munched on some of their wonderful homemade pitta before each dining on various types of fresh fish caught that day and served up nice and simply, along with the smile of the family members waiting our table.
I’ve got to admit, we only had the one day of adventure, sticking to the main aim of the holiday – rest. We spent the next few days doing a little bit more lounging by the pool and soaking up the sun ready to get back to it when we got home.
Within those last few days we also discovered Persa’s Tavern, a restaurant that wasn’t on the strip down by the water but set on the road into Katelios and just a five-minute walk from our villa. They’ve tried to create a romantic setting, complete with pool and little bridge in the centre of the site, with several different seating areas scattered around, but it’s the food that wins out here.
The menu has all the classics that are the reason people love going back to Greece again and again, along with Persa’s own twists. We actually ate here two nights running, and enjoyed some great fresh dips, grilled octopus, fish dishes, a goat dish, and a great lamb shank. Oh, and they had the best selection of desserts we’d seen anywhere, which made Mummy B a very happy lady.
I could go on and on about Kefalonia and its fabulous food, beautiful scenery and great people, but I hope this gives you an idea of what you can experience. It’s a gorgeous island, as are so many of the Greek Islands, and the perfect place to wind down, enjoy the sun, and fill your tummy with all sorts of fun food.
For a Manning holiday, which involves relaxing in the sun for a few days, tootling off in a hire car and exploring the island, there are plenty of little towns or villages to find a villa or apartment and take a break from the real world. But if you’re more into bigger resorts, large hotels, watersports and excursions and boat trips, there are plenty of places that will accommodate this.
Either way, if you like sun, sea, stunning scenery and fabulous food, you might want to give Kefalonia a go.
We paid in full for everything in Kefalonia and nobody knew I was blogging about it.
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