MY FAVOURITE CARTOON AS A BOY..

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

KEPHALONIA

OK. A brief (I'll try my best to limit this to posts / photos about the flora, fauna and some views we witnessed) summary of our recent fortnight in Kephalonia.

Kephalonia is a large, mountainous Ionian island off the west coast of Greece, with neighbouring Ithaca (home of mythological Odysseus / Ulyssses) to its north and Zakynthos to its south. It lies in the Ionian Sea (north Mediterranean, west of Greece's mainland) - the "Wine-dark sea" so beloved of Homer, (although Homer (if he existed as a single entity at all!) was reputably blind, so his "wine-dark sea" although very apt description, is somewhat confusing in its origin!

It is has a reputation as being one of the "greener" Greek islands - thanks mainly to the Kephalonian Fir trees which can be found all over the island, and in vast, vast numbers on the Mountains, especially Mount Ainos in the south-centre of the Island. The huge numbers of (originally indingenous) Kephalonian Firs on Mount Ainos led the Venetians to rename the mountain - Monte Nero (Black Mountain) - so dense is the foliage on the mountain's slopes. Much of the Venetians fleet of ships were constructed from this wood. (I should point out here that Kephalonia is situated in a very strategic place in the Mediterranean, and has been ruled by pretty-well all races over its history.

It has a typical Mediterranean climate - mild, damp winters and hot, dry summers, and forest fires always have been common on the island. Because its mountains almost literally jut out of the sea however, clouds can often build up over parts of the island, depending on the direction of the prevailing winds. Mount Ainos, for example, is very often cloudy, damp and cool.
The island also sits on an active earthquake zone - the last big one in 1953 quite literally destroyed most of the buildings on the island, and because of this, visitors to Kephalonia might think of the architecture as being relatively modern these days, though some ancient fortified historical walls and other buildings survive to this day.
That is not to say though, that the old ways of life have completely left the island. Away from the larger tourist resorts which line the south and west coasts in particular, one can still see large pieces of "real Greece" with wonderfully hospitable locals (who get progressively more hospitable, the more Greek you try to speak!) and rich, locally produced foods and wine.

It also has a reputation for being a wonderful place to see many types of wildlife, most notably of all I suppose, Birds of Prey, which can find good places to nest in all the mountains and cliffs.

We hired a car for 4 days, a Fiat Seizecento, (more like a motorbike really), which enabled us to get around the island and see far more than a lot of British tourists would do normally (most do prefer to lie on one beach all day anyway in our opinion). We only blew up the car once, when we attempted to drive it halfway up Mount Ainos (not our fault though - see later post).

The next few posts will, I hope, give you a brief insight into some of the sights we saw during our (too brief) holiday on this magnificent island. I am well aware how dull it can be to look through endless holiday photos though, and in keeping with the theme of "Blue-Grey", I'll try and limit my rambling on and on to some of the views, plants and animals we noticed.
I will try and finish all posts on Kephalonia by the end of this coming weekend, and will upload photos regularly, when I get home, so do keep checking to see if anything else has been added!

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