Kalo Pascha

We just wanted to wish you all a very happy Greek Easter!

If you want to visit the Ionian Islands for Greek Easter 2020, we recommend visiting Corfu Town where the Easter festivities are spectacular. With colourful processions, Philharmonic bands, dancing and even a tradition of throwing ceramic pots from windows and balconies to ban bad spirits from the house. A unique, cultural experience – not to be missed.

Image from the Times UK website – photo by
Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

We have some fabulous apartments, villas and hotels available in and close to Corfu town – please get in touch for further details.

Easter Holiday Escape Competition

Banish Brexit Blues this Easter and escape to the little Ionian island of Paxos.

Ionian Villas are offering a fantastic £100 holiday voucher to use on any villa or apartment on any of the 7 Ionian islands.

All you have to do to is follow the entry methods below to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions

Voucher Prize can not be exchanged for a cash alternative.
Voucher must be redeemed by 31/10/2019
Flights, transfers & car hire not included.
Minimum 7 day stay.
Winner will be drawn at random.
Winner will be contacted via email.
Draw will be made on 20/05/2019.

By entering competition you accept that your email address may be used to contact you about this competition and others hosted by Ionian Villas.

Travelling with a little human

Archie is now 19 months old and has been travelling with us on our trips to Greece since the age of 6 months! Our little man has done several flights including one long haul and he really seems to be getting the hang of it now… as do we! Alex and I often get asked how we find travelling with a young baby/ toddler. So, I thought I would share with you some of our tips, including useful gadgets and good advice given to us along the way.

The Flight

  • Firstly, try not to over-fret! 90% of people on the flight have probably had children of their own or have children in their family so they know it isn’t easy travelling with little humans. Cut yourself some slack – if your baby starts crying don’t worry, try and stay calm – your baby will sense your anxiety and it will only make things worse.
  • Snacks, snacks and more snacks. Now Archie is a toddler we pack as many snacks as we can. We try and go low sugar so he doesn’t get too excited on the flight!
  • If your little one is walking, try and tire him/her out as much as possible in the airport. If they want to walk up and down the aisle on the flight – stay close but again don’t worry about the occasional passenger scowl – most people understand. A three hour flight to Greece is a long time for a child to sit still.
  • If your baby is on formula you can pre order this from Boots up to 5 working days before you fly and pick it up in the terminal … it’s really handy. You can also do this with baby food too!
  • To help with ear popping on the flight a friend told me to try to feed your baby their milk at take-off and landing. The sucking really helps regulate the pressure.
  • Fun pack … we always pack a little fun pack for Archie full of some of his favourite toys along with some new exciting ones to keep him busy on the flight and for the holiday. But don’t forget to hold some back for the flight home!

Our favourite holiday must-haves and gadgets

Our top toddler friendly villas

When choosing a holiday villa it can be hard to know which ones are toddler-friendly. Here are our Ionian island favourites ….

Paxos

Elissa sleeps 6. The property is all on one level with plenty of outside space and shade. Also within walking distance of Lakka bay which is great when you have a buggy.

Kefalonia

Artemissleeps 5. The villa is all on one level with lots of grass for burning off some toddler steam!

Ithaca

Limoniasleeps 8. A great location in the centre of Vathy port close to a children’s play-park. The villa also has an enclosed, fenced-off pool area.

Corfu

Kalami – sleeps 4. A spacious modern villa in large grounds with plenty of grass around the pool.

Lefkas

Nicholetta – sleeps 4. The villa has an enclosed lawn and swimming pool area. It is a 10 minute walk to Agios Ioannis beach which has a few tavernas and a sheltered swimming area at one end. Lefkas town is also only a 10 minute walk via a flat track.

If you would like any further advice you can always give us a call or email. We have been to all our villas and can help pick the best one for you and your family.

Catherine xx

Last Minute Easter Deals

We are offering some fantastic last minute Easter deals on Paxos for UK Easter week. Stay in either Avra, Elissa or Angelika

15th April – 22nd April
** Only £500  **

Or maybe you fancy the festivities of Greek Easter instead…

22nd April – 29th April
** Only £500 **

Please get in touch with us for further details call 01243 820928 or email enquiries@ionian-villas.co.uk

Villa Avra – Sleeps 4

Villa Avra – View down to Lakka Harbour
Villa Avra

Villa Elissa – Sleeps 6

Villa Elissa – View down to Lakka Harbour
Villa Elissa

Angelika – Sleeps 5

Villa Angelika – Gaios Town
Villa Angelika

Don’t miss out on this great offer!

Paxos Ferries Over The Years

The only way of getting from Corfu to Paxos in 1965, my first visit, was aboard a weather-worn, wooden caique called “Aspasia”. A central deckhouse cum cockpit provided hard bench seating for around 40 passengers. The Aspasia’s crossing time varied between 5 and 7 hours depending on the weather.

The journey south from Corfu Town, hugging Corfu’s eastern coastline until Cavos at the island’s most southerly point, is along a channel, sheltered by the coastline of the Greek mainland, and is usually comparatively calm.

In those days, Cavos was a small fishing village with just a few houses above the beach and a simple taverna run by the Roussos family. The Roussos taverna is still there but engulfed by a confloption of holiday accommodation. 

Photo from google images of Corfu Town in the 1970’s

If anyone missed the Aspasia’s departure from Corfu Town’s port there was the opportunity to take a taxi to Cavos and wait for the caique to arrive there. Quite often there would be passengers plus barrels of wine waiting to board at Cavos – and on one occasion, I saw a donkey plus boxes of chickens waiting their turn.

When the Aspasia could be seen from the Cavos jetty, one or two small boats containing people, animals and provisions would be rowed out and helped up on to the waiting caique. A small man-powered winch would hoist up donkeys and barrels.

Photo from Pinterest of a 1963 Hydra Island transfer with a donkey

From Cavos to Paxos (around 9 miles) an afternoon swell could make the 3 – 5 hour journey seem even longer. A sudden winter storm would either cause the caique to turn back or would test the stomachs of even the hardened crew.

Despite the possibility of a rough crossing it was important to bring adequate food and drink to help you through a good part of a day. Many of the crew felt that a pack of cigarettes was ample. 

The Aspasia’s single loo was a small hut on the bow deck. Facing the entrance to the hut was a wobbly bench, where 2 or 3 Paxiots would sit (usually men with worry beads while the women sat inside crossing themselves as each wave hit). I once watched an unsuspecting female passenger (a non-Paxiot like me) enter the hut just as the Aspasia left the sheltered tip of Corfu’s south east coastline and the first waves of the open sea hit the caique’s prow. The hut door swung open to the hut’s side – out of reach of the enthroned lady, with her skirt around her ankles – and in full view of the audience on the bench.

During the summer months the Aspasia would make the return journey about 3 times per week but in the winter, Paxos could be cut off for several weeks.

A large car ferry (called the “Kefalonia”), connecting Patras and Corfu and calling in at Kefalonia, would appear about half a mile offshore from Gaios on a Friday night. Small fishing boats would take Paxiots, wanting a faster journey to Corfu, out to the ferry. A large net was hung over the side of the ship and passengers would climb up and on board.

The arrival of the Kefalonia, with its lights splaying across the calm night sea, was often the highlight of the week.

I cannot remember when the first car appeared on Paxos. There were no car ferries between Corfu and Paxos in the 1960’s so island transport was boat, donkey, foot and the odd scooter.

A Paxiot with his donkey

The Aspasia (and future ferries until the age of the internet) brought newspapers to Paxos to keep islanders abreast of outside news. The islanders thronged at the port when the ferry arrived – a dockers’ union (6 burly fishermen) reserved the right to offload all items (if I was carrying a suitcase, it would be snatched away and a charge made for carrying it all of 20 feet to the quayside). A bag containing the newspapers would be taken to the village’s two “periptero” (kiosks) in the main square.

Local fisherman & Periptero in background

Greece was under the rule of a military junta from 1967 to 1974. All news was fervently censored to the extent that often the pages would only have a few small columns of print, leaving large empty white spaces.  

In the event of bad weather and no ferry from Corfu, Paxos winters could be hard. The electricity supply (powered by diesel at the station in Gaios) would cut off sporadically if the diesel ran out. I remember fridges run on gas but no freezers (the first fridge on Paxos was bought by Peter Bull, the actor who lived on the hillside above Lakka Bay). As nothing could be frozen, the island’s staple winter diet tended to be fresh sardines and squid; soups of bean and lentil; salted cod stored in large wooden barrels and feta stored in brine. Occasionally a caique from Parga on the mainland would bring fresh fruit and vegetables to be sold on the village waterfronts.

Fruit & Veg Caique

In the 1970’s and 1980’s the ferry boat “Kamelia” started taking passengers, donkeys and cars between Paxos and Corfu. There was also the smaller “Aetos” which was just for passengers and provisions. The two ferries would depart at exactly the same time, despite being only half full, and would race each other to reach their destination. Journey time was around 2.5 hours and their rounded boat bottoms usually meant adding extra time to avoid uncomfortable rolling. The Aetos’ bottom was the roundest and would usually limp in second to the Kamelia.

Kamelia

The Kamelia had room on its deck for 3 small cars, wedged in so that any late arriving passengers would have to climb over the cars. Repainting of the ferry, when there was more rust than metal, was done in spurts so that its appearance took on an oddly camouflaged look. The ship’s bar served thick Greek coffee, ouzo and cognac (recognised medicinal remedies for bad weather – together with pungent cigarettes called Stukas) and Tam-Tam (a sickly Greek version of Coca Cola).  

Greece’s version of Coca Cola

The present day hydrofoils, fast boats and speedboats (and who knows, a possible return of the 10-minute seaplane hop) have introduced speedier communications between Paxos and Corfu. For most visitors however, life on Paxos is still led at a comparatively slow pace and long may that continue. 

Carnival Season on Lefkas

The Greek word “Apokries” means abstaining from meat and is used to describe Greece’s carnival season, which precedes the 40 days of fasting (Lent) that lead up to Easter.

In Ancient Greece there were celebrations at this time of year to commemorate the end of winter and the coming of spring, which were associated with the worship of Dionysus.

Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and as a sideline he represented fertility, ritual madness, theatre and religious ecstasy! His Roman equivalent was Bacchus.

Like carnival season in places like New Orleans, Rio and the Caribbean, Apokreas is all about costumes, masks, partying, eating, drinking, dancing and ritual madness!

These photos of this year’s Carnival celebrations in Lefkas Town were taken by Margaret Soldatou, the owner of Villa Melodia.

Moor a Hire Boat on Your Doorstep

For many people, the concept of a relaxing holiday is not to be dependent on a car. The smaller Greek islands are therefore conducive to chilling on foot and not slumped behind a steering wheel.

On most of the Ionian islands you can hire fibreglass boats and larger ribs with outboard engines ranging from 30HP to twin 350HP. A speedboat license is required for engines over 30HP.

Hiring a boat with outboard engine is a fun and to many, an out of the ordinary way to explore an island. Distances on the Ionian islands are not large but a few special properties have a mooring spot within a stone’s throw:

Alex & Archie on Paxos Summer 2018

ON PAXOS

Angelika (sleeps up to 5) is a 2-minute walk to Gaios waterfront. 

Averto Avalli’s (sleeps up to 6) doorstep is Gaios waterfront.

The Levrecchio Beach Villas (each sleeps up to 4) are a 4-minute walk to Loggos waterfront.

Marina (sleeps up to 15) has a mooring point at the bottom of the gardens.

Mermaid Cottage’s (sleeps up to 2) doorstep is Loggos waterfront.

Mermaid Cottage’s balcony

Sula’s Apartment ( sleeps up to 6) is an olive stone’s throw away from Gaios waterfront.

ON ITHACA

Dora’s House (sleeps up to 7) is a few steps away from Vathy waterfront.

Dora’s House view over Vathy Bay

Limonia (sleeps up to 8) is a short stroll to the Vathy waterfront.

Marmika House (sleeps up to 4) is 50 metres away from the Vathy waterfront.

The Kioni Suites (sleeps 2) are 10 paces away from the Kioni waterfront.

ON MEGANISSI

Waterfront Villa (sleeps up to 4) is 50 metres away from Vathy waterfront.

ON KEFALONIA

Katy’s Apartment (sleeps 2) has complimentary bikes and the Fiscardo waterfront is a 2-minute bike ride away.

Sonia’s Apartment (sleeps 2) and Villi’s House (sleeps 6) are a 5-minute stroll to the Fiscardo waterfront.

Sonia’s Apartment’s view

A Taste of Greece

As a family we enjoy visiting the Ionian islands for so many reasons… their hidden beaches, the glorious weather and the friendly people but one thing we most definitely love is the FOOD!! During the Winter months we spend most of our time in the office based in the UK. In January we start dreaming of our Spring and Summer travels around the islands. There is always talk of “oh I can’t wait for fresh Calamari” or “let’s make sure we find that Greek wine again”.

Thoughts of enjoying a waterfront meal on a balmy Greek Summer evening – whilst only half way through a grey British Winter, we decided it might be fun to have a Greek foodie evening and recreate some of our favourites!

So, armed with our Greek recipe books and the internet (plus a few secrets gathered over the years from Greek friends) we started preparations.

Starters were my domain, I made baked feta wrapped in Filo pastry with sesame seeds and honey, this is my absolute favourite dish and was very simple to make.

Alex gave me a hand in the kitchen frying courgettes and making Tzatziki while I attempted to make his favourite Yigandes (Greek baked beans). With the table set and a few Greek Rebetika favourites playing, we started to feel like we were back home on Paxos.

Viv and Dave arrived with the main course – a roasted chicken dish with lemon and potatoes (Kotopoulo Lemonato). Dessert, an Athenian baked cheesecake, was made by Auntie Lizzie.

Greek wines were ordered from Maltby & Greek, a London based supplier of a wide range of Greek food and drink. Our favourite was a ‘Malagouzia’ from the Mylonas Winery: light with fresh fruit notes. We would also recommend the dessert wine – another from the Mylonas winery: ‘Sunday, Savatiano-Aidani’ – a very pleasant, delicate dessert wine which was far too easy to drink!!

It was a great evening filled with lots of laughter and yummy food…hopefully it will suppress our longing for Greek food and balmy waterfront evenings until the Spring.

Catherine x

IONIAN ESCAPES ON LAND & SEA

The Ionian islands of Greece have some of the most beautiful, natural coastlines and crystal clear waters in southern Europe.

The islands offer a diverse playground for both explorer and cushioned deckchair enthusiast.

Say you are the one responsible for planning the family holiday or for trying to get a party of friends together – say Sally wants to escape city pressures and read a book in the shade of an olive tree; Malcolm only has a week off and wants to experience a different island coastline each day; Isobel just wants everyone else to be happy (especially Malcolm as he just won’t sit still); twins Frank & Fiona can’t do boats as they fear sea sickness; Pops and Granma want to be pampered. The Huddlestones and the Brinkmans don’t yet know if they can join the party.

How do you choose the right compromise for everyone’s holiday enjoyment?

A more conventional decision might be to either book one Greek island villa for all or one crewed yacht for all. But why not mix the two and satisfy everyone?

Fleewinter Yacht Lunous

Ionian Villas offers a wide selection of Ionian island properties for parties of 2 to 20. Fleewinter offer luxury crewed yachts in the Ionian for up to 10 people.

Why not spend a week in a comfy Ionian island villa to keep everyone except Malcolm happy, followed by a week on a Fleewinter yacht exploring the other Ionian islands. If Sally and the twins don’t want to join the yacht party, they can fly back home or extend their villa stay. In any case there’ll be plenty of room on board for the Huddlestones and Brinkmans.

Villa Marina Paxos

Fleewinter’s yachts have from 3 to 5 cabins taking up to 10 and each one has a skipper and private chef.  You can get involved in the sailing or just take it easy and let the crew do the work. Each day you decide with the crew whether to take it easy in a beautiful bay or explore some of the villages and tavernas.

Fleewinter Yacht Lunous

It’s a bit like having a floating luxury villa, and like all great houses each yacht has a garage full of toys:  waterskis, wakeboards, paddleboards, windsurfers and inflatable toys that are towed behind the private speedboat.  All meals are included except dinner where you have the option to dine onboard or head ashore to explore.

If you book a 2019 Fleewinter yacht charter through us before the end of March, a 10% price reduction will apply.

Call us on 01243 820928 to get more information.

Our Paxos Wedding

Ever thought about getting married amongst the olive groves or on a beach looking out to the Ionian Sea? Is it your dream to have Greek musicians playing bouzouki whilst you dance the night away underneath the stars? Well we can help you make this happen especially as we know first-hand what it is like to get married on one of the Ionian Islands.

In 2015, we got married on the beautiful island of Paxos. We chose to have a ceremony at the Gaios town hall and with the help of wedding planner Samantha Dasilva our day was perfect. After the ceremony our procession of 120 people walked the waterfront of Gaios following a small band of Greek Musicians, this moment was the favourite of many of our guests and it really felt like we were experiencing that Mama Mia wedding from the movies.

We arrived at the end of the harbour to have drinks and nibbles at one of our favourite spots, Porto Vecchio. After throwing the bouquet and mingling with guests we left on a speedboat to head to our reception. We organised for two coaches to take our guests onto Bens bar where we would have lunch and party!

As we motored toward Monodendri beach we could hear the cheers of all our family and friends standing by the water’s edge. We came up onto shore to the scent of Jasmine flowers and bay leaves that had been scattered across the decking leading us up to the bar where our guests sipped on cocktails and wine.

Ben, Effi and their team prepared a wonderful feast of fresh calamari, salads, Greek potatoes and lamb roasted on the spit. This was followed by a slice of cake on the cushions by the fire pit and dancing the night away to Ben’s great music!

There are lots great venues across the island but if you want something a bit more private or for less guests why not rent a villa to host your wedding day, here is where we suggest:

Villa Athanasia
Villa Chimara

Lots of friends and family flew from around the world to attend our wedding and rented numerous Ionian Villas properties. Here are some of the guests favourites:

Beach House
Doctor’s Apartment

For helping you plan your wedding day we recommend using Samantha Dasilva a local expat who specialises in weddings and events. She can put you in touch with suppliers and help with the legal paperwork for your day.

https://ionian-villas.co.uk/weddings.aspx

Catherine & Alex

© 2018 Ionian Villas Limited

Call us on: +44 (0) 1243 820928    ..or email enquiries@ionian-villas.co.uk

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