Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Kefalonia Bay Palace Hotel, Greece

The view every morning for the past week

Well the blog has been a bit quiet for the past week and that is because I have been away on holiday...
It's a bit of a biggie if I am honest as it's the first time that we have left the girls (well they are nearly 18 and 19) at home for a week while we went on holiday. We've done the occasional weekend but always in the UK so this was a leap of faith. Would we have a home to return too? Would we come back actually still married after a week solely in one another's company? Would we ever want to come back at all?

All went well I am happy to report. We felt like we were on a bit of a second-honeymoon and our house wasn't too trashed.. just the odd overflowing rubbish bin and stacks of water and coffee cups growing penicillin under the beds.

Our new phase of life was made even better by our choice of location and hotel so here is my take on where we stayed.

Kefalonia is a truly lovely island made famous in recent years by Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Berniere. Almost totally destroyed in 1953 by a massive earthquake, the island has been virtually rebuilt from scratch - apart from a beautiful port in the very north at Fiscardo which still has the original buildings.

Most buildings have been built in the past 20 years but don't let this put you off - they are built with great sympathy for the originals and are painted from a Farrow & Ball inspired colour palette. Soft pinks, apricots, mink browns - all set off the ubiquitous brilliantly hot and vibrant bougainvillea flowers. The people are friendly, the beaches (though mainly pebbly) are lapped by turquoise and warm seas and the mountains rise high where small villages cling to crumbling terraces.
The harbour at Aga Efthimia

We stayed in Aga Efimia at the Kefalonia Bay Palace Hotel, a new hotel of some 53 rooms, a few of which are suites with their own pools. It was quiet - they kept telling us they were full but I don't honestly believe them, and spotlessly clean. The rooms were comfortable and, unlike many places throughout Greece, you could flush away your toilet paper! Anyone who has been will know that this is a luxury.
View from our balcony with Ithica in the background

The only downside is the 137 stone step climb to our room - but to be honest each room cut into the cliff front afforded the most wonderful views across the bay to the legendary island of Ithica, home of Odysseus and Penelope. The infinity pool was truly spectacular and often we were one of only half a dozen people using it.

But what made this hotel so special was the staff. It appears to be run by a team of 5, but they really couldn't do enough for us no matter the time of day or night.

The hotel is a 10 minute walk from Aga Efthimia, a small port lined with restaurants and bars playing host to the many yachts which berth for the night. While we were there a yacht with Tony and Cherie Blair dropped anchor in the bay - it's that sort of place.

More upmarket but a good 45 minutes drive to the top of the island the fishing port of Fiscardo reminds me of Nice or Capri, though on a far smaller scale. This is where the really big and expensive yachts find still waters and fancy bars and probably the best espresso martini outside of Soho!

Kefalonia is an island to relax, chill, swim, sail and generally mess about on the water. If you want night-clubs and sophisticated evening entertainment forget it. This island is about meze, fresh fish, moussaka and chilled locally produced rose wine. I loved it and a return to a wet and dark Luton airport was a bit of a shock to the system I can tell you!

Myrtos Beach - beautiful even by Caribbean standards!

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