New Year Newsletter

Our newsletter brings you Warm Wishes and a Few Things New for the New Year.

Our office has some new family faces. Alex’s wife, Catherine, has joined our team. Catherine (Cat) has spent three years on Paxos as a Representative for Ionian Villas and Scott Williams. She has visited the other Ionian islands and will be revisiting in May.

Catherine Watrous

Cat Watrous

Alex and Cat’s son, Archie, was born last September and will be on the May familiarisation trip to the islands!

Archie Ionian Villas

Archie at the Office

For us, 2017 was the busiest and also the longest season – May and October in the Ionian are becoming more popular for warm weather escapes from more temperamental northern European climates.

May and October are possibly the best months to explore the islands on foot. Sea water and swimming pool water can, however, be bracing in May so a stay in a private apartment (with a good sea view) on the outskirts of a port or village, is fun and economical. For example:

Mermaid Cottage on Paxos has Loggos waterfront as a doorstep and in May is £570 per week.

Mermaid Cottage Paxos

Mermaid Cottage

Katy’s Apartment on Kefalonia has Fiscardo as a doorstep and is £500 per week in May.

We have added some new Ionian properties to our 2018 programme:

On Paxos

Avra for up to 5 people.

Elpitha for up to 5 people – and its sister villa Simeoni.

Kolomboki for up to 6 people.

Korpithi for up to 4 people – and its sister villa Loula.

The Levrecchio Villas – 3 adjacent villas each for up to 4 people.

Petrino Spiti for up to 10 people.

Polimnia for up to 6 people.

Valentina for up to 4 people.

Zoe for up to 6 people.

Villa Zoe Paxos

Villa Zoe

On Ithaca

Areti for up to 7 people.

Limonia for up to 8 people.

The Loutsa Retreat for up to 8 people.

On Kefalonia

Frappa for up to 8 people.

Frappa Cottage for up to 3 people.

Grace for up to 6 people).

Paradiso for up to 7 people.

Rea for up to 4 people.

Sea Breeze for up to 12 people.

On Lefkas

Sonata for up to 6 people.

On Corfu

Perivoli for up to 10 people.

Perivoli Corfu

Perivoli

Ionian Island Hopping

Inter-island communications are improving. For 2018 there is talk of the seaplane returning to link Corfu and Paxos and possibly the other more southern Ionian islands. We have also heard that a new ferry is being operated between Corfu, Lefkas, Kefalonia and Zakynthos. Sky Express already operate a flight linking Corfu, Preveza (for Lefkas), Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Athens. Apart from the regular inter-island hydrofoil and ferry services it is now possible to charter a private speedboat.

Ionian Seaplane

We understand that an island hopping holiday may not appeal to families wanting to limit overall travel but with this new choice of transferring from one island to another it can be seen as an exciting alternative.

And if you are a couple with more flexible time on your hands – let us know if you would like us to tailor-make an Ionian Island Hopping trip for you.

Talking about flights – there’s a new BA flight from Heathrow to Kefalonia starting mid May 2018 – Tuesday and Saturday departures.

New Greek wines

In October last year we went to the London Greek Wine Festival at the West Handyside Canopy in Kings Cross and sampled many of the 130 distinctively delicious and diverse Greek wines being showcased. The Festival, organised by The Greek Larder will happen again next October so check their websites for dates.

The Greek Wine Festival

For many of us it is difficult to know what wines to sample when on holiday in Greece. The ubiquitous and often bland “house wine” poured from taverna boxes will not show off what Greece is now producing.

On Paxos there is now an opportunity to explore the tastes of the grapes, regions and wineries of Greece from the comfort of your holiday villa. Andreas stocks some excellent wines from wineries he has selected from his annual research trips (someone’s got to do it!). He has his wine shop in Lakka but with a few days notice he can bring a selection of wines to your Paxos villa. He will give you an interesting history to the making of each wine. Best to give him a few likes & dislikes so he can tailor the selection for you.  Then – when you return to Paxos for your next holiday you can arrange for Andreas to deliver your favourite wines for your arrival!

We came across an interesting blog about some of the Greek grapes

New hideaway bar in Corfu Town

The Palace and gardens of Mon Repos, surrounded by hillsides of pine forest, stand above the sea on the outskirts of Corfu Town.

Mon Repos Palace was built as a summer residence for the British Lord High Commissioner of the United States of the Ionian Islands in 1828. When the Ionian islands were ceded back to Greece in 1864, the Palace became the residence of Greece’s King George 1. The Greek royal family used it as a summer residence up until King Constantine II fled the country in 1967 and the Palace was repossessed by the Greek State.

Several royal births have taken place at the villa, including those of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on 10 June 1921, and Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark on 10 July 1965.

The Palace and its gardens are now being used as an archaeological museum.

At the foot of the Palace’s forested hillside a sheltered beach, once the bathing spot for the Greek royal family, is now open to the public and has an excellent café bar and restaurant. “The Royal Baths” is close to Garitsa waterfront but its walled gardens (bordered by around 50 old-school, wooden changing huts) are a peaceful escape from the world outside – well worth a visit if you have time on Corfu.

The Royal Baths

Royal Baths’ changing huts

If you feel like a return to the Ionian this year and need some ideas – call us!

If you have time – add us as a friend on Facebook and give us a Like or follow us on Instagram for some Ionian holiday inspiration!

We wish you all the very best for 2018 – may all your dreams come true!

David, Vivienne, Alex, Cat & Archie.

Friends of Paxos

Whether Greece stays in the Euro and/or the European Community or not, she will continue to depend on tourism as one of her most important income opportunities.

Thousands of visitors each year to the smaller Greek islands have a serious impact on local infrastructures. Over time these islands will inevitably lose part of their culture, traditions, lifestyle, character, identity and soul.

Once this has happened it will be hard to recover what has been lost.

On the tiny island of Paxos, a new initiative has been set up by Faye Lychnou and Christos Boicos to initiate, encourage and organise cultural activities of every type on the island to include concerts and festivals, art exhibitions, art residencies and  workshops to involve people and culture from Paxos and from outside.2014-09-30 14.16.09.

This initiative is called Friends of Paxos. Faye and Christos understand the fragility of Paxos’ heritage and its environment and are keen to encourage projects concerning the island’s preservation.

At a time when public budgets and cultural initiatives in Greece are few, Friends of Paxos will look to private financing of its projects.

Ionian Villas wants to become a Friend of Paxos and once the projects become more concrete, we will announce them on this blog in the hope that we can encourage others to become a Friend.

 

 

 

Newsletter for 2015

Ionian Villas is 3 years old. We have so far booked Ionian island properties for just over 1,500 people and we are now arranging villa holidays for their friends and friends of friends.

We wish you a Healthy & Happy New Year and hope to see you again sometime.

We have added some new properties for 2015:

Villa Jupiter, Paxos

Villa Jupiter, Paxos

 

On Paxos: Cressida, Georgina, Jupiter, Serifos Apartments, Thalassa Beach Apartments.

On Corfu: Aleka, Alexandra, Helios, Varvara, Country House.

On Kefalonia: Adrianna, Kiriaki Apartments.

On Ithaca: Kitrino.

A more comfortable arrival at Corfu

BA’s new flight to Corfu from Heathrow departs 4 times per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) from 2nd May to 20th September.

Whenever we fly to Corfu (and then on to Paxos and the other islands) we spend the first night in Corfu Town and quite often on the way back as well. Apart from being a beautiful town there are now many excellent restaurants and bars so a first night at one of our featured hotels (Cavalieri or Corfu Palace), dinner under grapevines at one of the nearby restaurants and catching the hydrofoil to Paxos the following morning all adds to the holiday tonic to unwind.

Many of the Paxos villa owners ask for a Monday changeover day. Monday is the busiest day for flights to Corfu and as a consequence the prices of Monday flights tend to be higher than on other days of the week. There can therefore be a price incentive to fly to Corfu on a Sunday, overnight at a Corfu hotel and then on to Paxos the following day.

Meet our Island Managers

Alex on Paxos

Alex on Paxos

Alex is our Paxos manager. Alex has been going to Paxos since he was 6 months old.

Karron is our Kefalonia manager. Karron lives with her family on Kefalonia.

Karron on Kefalonia

Karron on Kefalonia

Susan White is our Ithaca manager. You can find out more about Sue at Ithaca Concierge

Patricia Taylor is our Lefkas and Meganissi manager. Patricia has spent many years on Lefkas and can introduce you to the island’s hidden parts.

Sue on Ithaca

Sue on Ithaca

Patricia on Lefkas

Patricia on Lefkas

One of our managers once told me that when she was a Rep for a package holiday company on the island, she was told that their new policy was to employ the same Rep for a maximum of 2 years. It would seem that in their determination to have a fresh face they would lose the valuable local knowledge of a more experienced person.

Our managers are there to offer you all the help and advice you may need at any time but not to intrude on your holiday. The life of the island is more important to each of them than commissions earned on selling you a coach trip to an unforgettable ouzo-fuelled sunset.

The Seasons of Greece

Those of you with children at school will be restricted by school holiday dates. Good old supply and demand means that holiday prices in the peak summer season are considerably higher than in other months.

Package holiday companies will also apply a high mark-up on their holidays falling within Half Term and Bank Holidays – most of our villa owners have higher peak season prices but their end of May prices (May Bank Holiday) do not always carry this supplement.

For those of you who have more flexible dates, why not visit the Greek islands during the different seasons to vary your experience.

Spring in Greece usually arrives one month before ours. At our house on Paxos we have a 40 foot Mimosa tree and it is ablaze with sherbert-yellow blossom in early March. April normally has clear sunny days with temperatures in the late 50’s but no point in choosing a villa with a pool as the water needs longer to warm up. Greek Orthodox Easter is 12th April – a colourful event which should be experienced once in your life.

Grazing above Assos

Grazing above Assos

 

In May one can feel the days getting warmer (mid 60’s). The islands are still lush with Spring wildflowers – great for exploring on goat paths through olive groves and valleys of bracken. If you haven’t seen a Greek island valley lit up by the tiny flashing lights of fireflies on a warm May evening – shame on you!

In June the sea has a warmer, more sensuous welcome. There is a greater excuse to escape the midday sun and enjoy an afternoon siesta. Temperatures are mid 70’s. Walkers can still enjoy island exploration – as a legacy of the Venetian occupation of the Ionian islands, olive groves provide shade for many of the island goat paths.

July and August temperatures climb into the 80’s so stay close to water! You have to work a bit harder to find a deserted beach – hire a boat; pack a simple lunch of fresh bread, olive oil & garlic, feta cheese, salami, chilled retsina and baseball-sized peaches; buy more sun umbrellas than are needed – find a small deserted cove and erect all sun umbrellas to give the impression of a crowd to deter any sea invaders.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In September the sea is at its warmest and temperatures start to fall to more comfortable mid 70’s. You notice more local islanders returning to their favourite waterfront cafénions now that the busier months of tourism are over and village lifestyles become less frenetic. On Paxos a Classical Music Festival in early September is another experience not to be missed.

October has temperatures in the mid 60’s so ideal for walkers and for those looking for an escape from the crowds and a burst of sunshine and beautiful natural surroundings before the onslaught of a dank, dark British winter.

Paxos olive groves

Paxos olive groves

 

Do you like garlic? Have you tried olive oil infused with garlic? Pour a generous amount of olive oil into a small, empty water bottle and add crushed garlic. Leave for as long as possible and take with you on beach picnics to be poured over hunks of fresh bread.

Pa amb oli” means “bread with olive oil” in Mallorquin, and it is as commonly eaten in the Balearic Islands as pa amb tomàquet is in Catalonia.

Pa ambo li Ingredients:

6 (3/4-inch thick) slices of bread (dark rye is probably best)

1 clove garlic

3 tomatoes, halved crosswise

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Salt

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and immediately rub 1 side of each slice with a cut side of the garlic. Then rub the same side of each slice with the cut side of a tomato half, pressing a little to squeeze some of the pulp and seeds onto the bread. Drizzle olive oil over the tomato and sprinkle with salt. Serve while the bread is still warm and crisp. Yum.

Fireflies

A friend on Paxos once told me that as a young boy he caught fireflies in a jam jar to use as a lantern when walking back home through the olive groves.

Tinkerbell Fireflies

Tinkerbell Fireflies

 

There are more than 2,000 species of fireflies, or lightning bugs, and they are actually winged beetles. Typically only seen in the summertime because they thrive in warm and tropical environments, a firefly’s glowing mechanism serves several purposes.

However, the blinking patterns of the firefly’s abdomen remain a mystery, as scientists are unsure of whether the patterns are controlled by the insect’s nerve cells or oxygen supply.

Adult fireflies shine different intermittent signals to grab the attention of possible future mates. Flash patterns vary from short burst to a long continuous flashing sequence, and different firefly species have their own unique successions of light, making it easier for compatible mates to find each other.

Both male and female fireflies turn on their green lights when choosing a mate, and use their blinking lights as a means to communicate during courtship.

Fireflies appear to light up for a variety of reasons. The larvae produce short glows and are primarily active at night, even though many species are subterranean or semi-aquatic. Fireflies produce defensive steroids in their bodies that make them unpalatable to predators. Larvae use their glow as warning displays to communicate their distastefulness. As adults, many fireflies have flash patterns unique to their species and use them to identify other members of their species as well as to discriminate between members of the opposite sex. Several studies have shown that female fireflies choose mates depending upon specific male flash pattern characteristics. Higher male flash rates, as well as increased flash intensity, have been shown to be more attractive to females in two different firefly species.

Paxos Big Brother

The Genesis Taverna on Gaios waterfront have set up a live webcam – have a look to check out the weather: Paxoswebcam

Return of the Ionian Seaplane?

The hydrofoil between Corfu and Paxos takes 1 hour. I can remember when the only connection between the islands was by caique and it took up to 5 hours.

Eight years ago a Canadian company set up a seaplane service connecting Corfu, Paxos and Ithaca – the flight time between Corfu and Paxos was just 10 minutes (plus around 20 minutes to get out of the port to reach the “strip”).

It is reported that the Greek Merchant Marine Minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis (try saying that after a few drinks) and Deputy Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michalis Papadopoulos recently signed a decision “paving the way for the country’s first official hydroplane on the Corfu coastline”.

The strip, which is to be operated by the island’s port authority, will be able to serve Greece’s first fleet of hydroplanes and improve connections between the islands and mainland Greece. Watch This Space.

 

 

Paxos – more than just a pretty face

Paxos olive groves

 

When my father and I started up Greek Islands Club on Paxos in the late 1960’s we arranged holidays from the beginning of April until the end of October.

In more recent years the islands, including Paxos, have experienced a shortening of the summer season. Both tour operators and charter flight airlines are not able to risk a poor uptake on holiday bookings during May and October.

As a general rule the colours and warmth of Spring in the Ionian arrive up to a month earlier than in northern Europe. As I write this I have just been emailed a photo of our Paxos mimosa tree exploding with fuzzy yellow blossom. Friends spent this last Christmas on Paxos and swam in the sea every day.

A small group of Paxiots have put together the beginnings of a programme called Off Season Paxos. Local islanders and specially invited guests will introduce whoever is interested to the island’s many attributes in a personalised way, which is not possible in the hotter and busier summer months.

From 11th March to 26th March 2013 a group of locals are offering to share their beautiful island with a more intrepid visitor. Everyone involved is doing so on a voluntary basis and visitors will only have to pay for board and keep.

There will be guided walks, yoga sessions, cookery lessons, theatre and dance, Greek language lessons, traditional songs from local musicians and impromptu activities involving most of the island’s villages.

Tavernas, normally only open during the May to October season, will offer specially prepared dishes during the two weeks.

For more information have a look at Off Season Paxos