Winter Weather on Ithaca

This Blog was written by our Ionian Villas manager on Ithaca, Sue White.

Sue lived on Kefalonia for 18 years and has now been living on Ithaca for 5 years.

Sue is a taxi driver on Ithaca – one of twelve drivers.

Sue looks after our clients and is able to give a valuable, personal insight into the history, culture and lifestyles of Ithaca.

Sue has her own website: Ithaca Travel Services

“A lot of people who visit Greece in the summer are under the impression that there is wall to wall sunshine year-round. In my taxi, apart from being asked the usual list of questions as to how I ended up being an English lady taxi driver on a small Greek island, the conversation then switches to ‘the weather’.

It’s not only tourists who have an interest in the weather. The locals here on Ithaca also have a very healthy interest on the subject, and of course they are all experts! From fishermen, shepherds and even the all-knowing γιαγιαδες (grand matriachs), I hear conflicting predictions about the weather but this last summer they all seemed to agree with each other. In August temperatures of 40 Degrees the talk was of a ‘βαρύ Χειμώνας’ (a heavy winter) – and they were right.

After a reasonably mild November and December, the New Year kicked off with freezing cold temperatures and snow, swiftly followed by days of torrential rain. For the first time in 10 years the snow settled all over the island – not just the mountain villages but also on the beaches!

Ithaca

January snow on an Ithaca olive tree

When the snow was washed away by days of relentless rain, the mountain streams flowed down the valleys to resemble a Lake District landscape (apart from the olive trees!). Ithaca, an island rich in pasture land and olive groves, is now super lush and green.

Ithaca

Snowy Stavros village

One of the effects of the snow, say the fishermen, shepherds and γιαγιαδες, is that invasive bugs have been frozen and they are now predicting a good olive harvest next October.”

Ithaca

Post snow streams

December Newsletter

Ionian Villas is coming up to its 5th birthday. With a big thank you to our guests over these 5 years, our Ionian programme has grown to feature over 200 properties.

We continue to visit all the properties each year.

Our new properties for 2017 are:

1-bedroom properties: Olitsi Apartment on PaxosLydia on Kefalonia; Fassoulou’s on Ithaca.

2-bedroom properties: Angelika on Paxos; Bougarini on Paxos; Delia on Paxos.

3-bedroom properties: Agni Bay on Corfu; Anetta on Corfu.

4-bedroom properties: Chiara on Paxos; Beach Villa on Kefalonia.

6-bedroom properties: Athanasia on Paxos.

7-bedroom properties: Marina on Paxos.

Kythira. In the earlier days of Greek Islands Club, before it became part of a larger corporate image, we started a small programme on the southernmost Ionian island: Kythira.

Village of Agnondas, Kythira

Village of Avlemonas, Kythira

We returned to Kythira in October this year to meet up with old friends. We were delighted to see that little, if anything, had changed in the past 25 years.

We will be introducing our Kythira programme in the new year. Kythira is not for the package holidaymaker or the lover of swimming pools and will appeal to the more intrepid Grecophile.

Have a look at Andrew Bostock’s piece on Kythira in the Guardian

Holiday Snaps. We are keen to add your holiday photos to our website. If you have any images, which you would like to share – please send them to us in an email.

What is happening in Greece today? The UK’s media coverage of life in Greece is often scant. Very few of us know and understand how austerity measures are affecting the Greeks. Greek Crisis is a blog dedicated to the understanding of the current Greek (but also European) economic, political and institutional crisis. It was created by Prof. Aristides Hatzis of the University of Athens, after many requests by his students seeking a source of reliable analysis on the Greek current affairs. Its aim is to post commentary and reports published mainly in the major U.S., European and Greek media and to encourage a rigorous discussion.

Walking on Paxos. Before roads were built on the islands, communication between island hamlets and villages was via a network of pathways. Many of these paths have become overgrown or the stone walls on either side have collapsed, making access difficult.

Paxos

Paxos path clearing

On Paxos, a hard working group of locals are clearing these paths so that eventually all parts of the island can be reached on foot. Come to Paxos in May and explore olive groves coloured by a profusion of wild flowers. 2 people staying at Olitsi Apartment 8th to 15th May would pay £225 per person for the apartment and an Easyjet flight for around £150 each.

We hope to see you again on one of the Ionian islands – do get in touch if you would like us to search for a special island escape.

Vivienne, Alex and I wish you all a very Happy Christmas.greece-olive-snow

Fiscardo Before the Sun Umbrella Invasion

2016-04-28 07.20.15 (1824 x 1368)Fiscardo is undoubtedly one of the most colourful and prettiest ports in the Ionian.

In 1953 an earthquake destroyed all Kefalonia buildings except those in Fiscardo and a few outlying villages.

In my early Greek Islands Club days we took on a small programme of village houses for those visitors wanting to spend lazy days people and boat watching on Fiscardo waterfront.

In the early 1980’s a coffee on Fiscardo waterfront would have cost around 25 cents in today’s money.

Many of the Greek islands still hold on to a simple lifestyle and do not let the demands of blinkered tourism dictate their future. But whereas an older island generation may not want change, the younger generation will naturally be aspirational: the BMW versus the donkey.

Running a travel business often leads one to hypocrisy. I always tried to offer holiday opportunities to those wanting to escape the crowds and to get to know and be part of a simple Greek island community. In 1990 the BBC Holiday Programme asked me if we would host a film crew in Fiscardo. I said yes. Holiday bookings to Fiscardo soared the following year and Fiscardo started to take on a more chic appearance.

A coffee on Fiscardo waterfront can now cost 4 Euros.

The following photos were taken in 1990 when my mum (Buz), my wife (Vivienne) and I introduced Lorraine Chase (as the Presenter), a BBC researcher plus a cameraman and sound man to the beautiful landscapes of northern Kefalonia and Fiscardo.

You will see that there were only a very few café bar tables and chairs and wooden fishing boats outnumbered fibreglass cruisers. There were also no waterfront sun umbrellas. Today’s waterfront wall of sun umbrellas provide welcoming shade but I still prefer the openness that existed pre-invasion and also the look of traditional, rickety cafenion chairs and chipped metal tables.

But life goes on and Fiscardo will still dazzle and delight.

Lorraine Chase in Fiscardo

Selfie with Lorraine!

Fiscardo waterfront Lorraine Chase

Lorraine & my mum!

Fiscardo waterfront

Fiscardo waterfront 1990

Fiscardo waterfront

Vivienne and Alex at Villa Theodora – this is now a waterfront bar.

Winter 2015 Newsletter

Escape to the Ionian

Another year goes by and despite the unrest in different parts of the world, now is a good time to make plans for one or more escapes in 2016. Our finger on the pulse of holiday bookings to the Greek islands tells us that the larger villas in August are being taken up quickly and the month of June is proving to be very popular.

Geni

I recently read, in a Sunday broadsheet, a review of travel destinations according to a “risk of terrorism” scale of 1 – 10. Many of the destinations were around the 5. I do not know where the Ionian islands of Greece would appear in this scale but I would imagine that they must be amongst the safest destinations to visit. Sitting on a terrace overlooking a still sea with the soft scratching of olive grove cicadas and just the worry of which waterfront taverna to visit later – one can’t help but detach oneself from the outside world.

2004-03-15 19.35.13 (1654 x 1096)

I have met many people who choose not to spend a holiday on a small island because they feel that there are too many limitations – the same views, the same food, the same daily routine – boring and “uneducating”! Every year over the last 50 years I have spent on average 2 – 3 months on Paxos. There are many hidden parts of the island that I have not yet found; all the views are constantly changing with the position of the sun, the movement of the sea and silver olive trees; the food has nearly always been fresh, inspired, colourful and delicious. I love my short breaks on islands like Paxos and after each visit I feel recharged, refreshed and educated in the simple things in life, which so often pass me by in a more frenetic lifestyle back home.

For 2016 we have added a new Ionian island: Zakynthos – direct flights (Easyjet and charter) – Villa Amphitriti sleeps up to 14 people and has a TV monitor showing live footage of local seals and starfish from a nearby underwater camera. We feature 10 villas and will be adding more next year.

Villa Amphitriti, Zante

Villa Amphitriti, Zakynthos

There is a ferry service between Agios Nikolaos (North Zakynthos) and Pessada on Kefalonia – taking 1 hour. As Easyjet operates to both islands you could fly to Zakynthos for a holiday and then on to Kefalonia, flying back to UK from there.

Our other new properties are:

Small villas with pool:

On Paxos, Aspro Alogo 1-bedroom hideaway cottage above Loggos.

On Kefalonia, Marika – a 2-bedroom villa above a sandy beach.

On Kefalonia, The Fiscardo Suites – luxury Suites in the centre of Fiscardo.

On Meganissi, Eftihia – 1-bedroom villa close to the sea.

3-bedroom villas with pool:

On Paxos, Alexia –  hillside olive groves above Lakka Bay.

On Paxos, Eratocoastal villa just outside Gaios.

On Paxos, Kallistoreasonably priced villa close to Magazia.

Villa Kallisto, Paxos

Villa Kallisto, Paxos

On Paxos, Stassinosclose to Lakka.

On Paxos, Portokali House a comfy house just outside Gaios.

On Kefalonia, Villa Amalthea – modern villa above a sandy beach.

On Corfu, Perivoli – a 300 year old property with beautiful gardens.

On Lefkas, Nichola – amazing sea views.

On Ithaca, Mavrouna – short walk to a beach.

4 & 5-bedroom villas with pool:

On Paxos, Aetofolia – possibly the best views over Gaios’ Venetian fortress.

On Kefalonia, Acacia – sprawling villa with huge pool close to a sandy beach.

Villa Acacia, Kefalonia

Villa Acacia, Kefalonia

On Lefkas, Ophelia – spacious retreat with powerful views.

Villas without a pool but close to the sea:

On Paxos, The Old Residency – fantastic apartment for 6 on Gaios waterfront.

On Kefalonia, Villi’s House – just a 5 minute walk to Fiscardo waterfront.

On Ithaca, Poli Beach House – just above a beach & close to village tavernas.

Villa Videos

On our island travels we have started to take some brief videos of villa views as these are not easy to capture in a photo. It’s a learning curve for us but hopefully our filming techniques will become less shaky the more we do. Some examples can be seen on the following properties (click on “View Video”):

Amalia (Paxos)

Beach House (Paxos)

Doctor’s Apartment (Paxos)

Villa Victoria (Lefkas)

Now We Are Three

In 2011 Ionian Villas began with me and my wife, Vivienne. Our son, Alex, has added to his education by working on Paxos as a waiter, a boatman, a dancer, a hamper organiser, a Rep and then for the last 2 years as our Ionian Villas Paxos manager. Alex now joins us back at our Felpham (West Sussex) HQ and Dimitris Aronis becomes our new Paxos manager.

Monodendri beach, Paxos

Alex & Cat’s Paxos wedding day 2015

Photo Competition

We would love to see your Ionian island photos.

Our Photo Competition offers a 1st Prize of a “10% Off” Voucher (redeemable on any of our properties in 2016) and the 2nd and 3rd Prizes are each a case of 12 bottles of Prosseco. Photos can be of any subject but in some way should give a flavour of the Ionian island. Only “Landscape” format, colour not black & white and any number of entries. We will be setting up a website page just to show a selection of these photographs so by sending us your photos you give us the authority to use each photo. We will not pass on any photo to any third party. This Blog is being sent to our Ionian Villas guests but the competition is open to anyone who has visited any of the Ionian islands.

If sending more than 2 photos please send in a Zip file – all photos to be sent to enquiries@ionian-villas.co.uk

The Competition closes on 1st March 2016.

Corfu Overnight for Paxos Visitors

There are now 3 different hydrofoil/ferry services between Corfu and Paxos so most morning flight departures from UK will allow Paxos clients to reach Paxos the same day. More and more of our Paxos clients are opting to take a flight departing at a “reasonable” time from UK and not at the crack of dawn and staying overnight in Corfu Town before catching an early afternoon hydrofoil to Paxos the following day.

Corfu Old Town is a fascinating mix of the old and the new. Italian and French occupations have left a legacy of beautiful architecture and there are now many excellent restaurants and bars. As an alternative to rushing over to Paxos in one day, why not choose from our selection of Corfu hotels (see below), which are all within a 5-minute taxi ride from the airport and a 10-minute taxi ride to the Paxos hydrofoil.

Mon Repos

Cavalieri

Corfu Palace

Please get in touch for hotel room prices.

Corfu

Corfu

Private Speedboat Charter

On most days there are fairly regular ferries between Corfu and Paxos (also hydrofoil), Kefalonia and Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zakynthos, Lefkas and Meganissi. There are also private speedboat charter services if you don’t want any waiting around at the port. Please ask us for more information.

Not Sure What to Buy Her for Christmas?

Auree Jewellery has a sparkly selection of surprisingly inexpensive ideas to show that you care. Their website also has a selection of compressed, easy-to-read travel guides including one for Paxos.

Xmas

We hope you have a very Happy Christmas.