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

Escaping to Ithaca Needn’t Be an Odyssey

After the Trojan War it took Odysseus 10 eventful years to return to his Ithaca home.

Reaching the end of his journey, Odysseus was taken from Kefalonia to Ithaca in a Phaeacian longboat. Seeing the Phaeacians returning to Kefalonia, Poseidon raised his trident and turned the boat and oarsmen to stone.

Tzika House and the Sunset Cottages look down to an outcrop of rock emerging from the sea in the distinct shape of a Phaeacian longboat.

Tzika House

It is said that the Phaeacians dropped Odysseus off at the beach below Dexa Beach House and Villa Areti. The photo below was taken by the owner of Areti – the rainbow falls onto the beach.

Rainbow over Dexa Beach

Nowadays Odysseus could fly to Kefalonia, then a 40 minute taxi journey to the port of Sami with a private speedboat to whisk him over to Ithaca in 30 minutes. All arranged by our Ithaca manager, Sue.

And to regain his strength before slaughtering Penelope’s suitors he could hide himself away in comfort at Hilltop House.

Hilltop House

Villas with the Wow Factor

What boxes need ticking when you look for that special Greek island holiday?

Most people look for: a modern villa with pool but one that feels Greek; the biggest and most dramatic sea views possible; seclusion but close to a village and beaches; privacy and tranquillity.

All of our Ionian properties have one or more of these attributes but here is a shortlist for each island of the ones we consider to head the wow list.

The Best Sea Views

PAXOS

Bougainvillaea (sleeps 2) – forested, west coast hillsides and the open sea.

Evangelia (sleeps up to 4) – birds eye views over Gaios port.

Villa Evangelia’s View

Jupiter (sleeps up to 6) – east to the Greek mainland, north across Mogonisi Bay, west to AntiPaxos.

Chimara (sleeps up to 8) – a big sea and the mountains of the mainland, framed by tall cypress trees.

ITHACA

Sunset Cottages (sleeps 2) – watch the sun set behind the north coast of Kefalonia.

Sunset Cottages at sunset.

Fassoulou’s Cottage (sleeps up to 4) – over Afales Bay and across the sea to the islands of Lefkas, Meganissi, Kalamos, Arkoudi and Atokos.

Hilltop House (sleeps up to 5) – the highest spot above Kioni Bay.

Tzika House (sleeps up to 8) – across the sea to Kefalonia’s north coast.

Tzika House looking towards Kefalonia

KEFALONIA

Sonia’s Apartment (sleeps 2) – watch the fishing boats and yachts arrive at and depart from Fiscardo port.

Villa Lito (sleeps up to 4) – a valley of olive groves to the sea, the pine and cypress forested foothills of Mount Aenos and the sandy coastline.

Villa Cara (sleeps up to 8) – looks out over a spectacular, natural landscape of pine and cypress to the sea and in the distance, the island of Zakynthos.

Villa Cara

LEFKAS

Rhoda (sleeps 2) – the sun sets directly opposite.

Villa Rhoda’s sunset view

Vassiliko (sleeps up to 4) – over a valley of olive groves and across Vassiliki Bay to the islands of Ithaca and Kefalonia.

Victoria (sleeps up to 10) – across Vliho Bay and up to Lefkas’ mountainous interior.

Helena (sleeps up to 10) – panoramic views over the offshore islands of Skorpios, Sparti, Skorpithi, Meganissi and across the sea to the Greek mainland.

Escape the Crowds with Total Privacy

PAXOS

Aspro Alogo (sleeps 2) – a tiny hamlet of just a few houses in the hills above Loggos.

Cressida (sleeps up to 6) – only the sound of cicadas to disturb.

Spiantzi (sleeps up to 11) – a private headland of 2 acres and private access to the beach below.

Spiantzi’s upper terrace

ITHACA

Loutsa Retreat (sleeps up to 8) – hidden from the outside world within beautiful private gardens and forested hillsides of olive and pine.

The Loutsa Retreat

KEFALONIA

Paradiso (sleeps up to 7) – a total escape with an acre of lawns overlooking a landscape of olive groves and cypress trees.

Acacia (sleeps up to 10) – large, private grounds look out across the sea to the tiny island of Dias and to Zakynthos.

Efkalyptos (sleeps up to 16) – a spacious and comfortable retreat above Spartia’s sandy beach.

Spartia Retreat (sleeps up to 18) – surrounded by 5 acres of beautiful, extensive gardens just inland from the seaside village of Spartia.

The Spartia Retreat

CORFU

Helios (sleeps up to 8) – dramatic views all the away along the east coast to Corfu Town’s fortress.

Perivoli (sleeps up to 10) – 2 acre private gardens of crimson bougainvillaea and orchards of orange, lemon, avocado, pear, apple, plum, grapefruit and a private olive grove.

The Manor House (sleeps up to 10) – a mid 18th Century Venetian residence, hidden away amongst five hillside acres of citrus orchards, olive groves and cypress trees above the east coast.

The Manor House

You Couldn’t Get Closer to the Sea

PAXOS

Mermaid Cottage (sleeps 2) – 5 paces away from the sea.

Delia (sleeps up to 4) – just above Monodendri beach (Ben’s Bar).

Anastasia (sleeps up to 6) – you really couldn’t get closer to the sea!

Beach House (sleeps up to 7) – set above a small beach.

ITHACA

Dexa Beach House (sleeps up to 4) – set in an olive grove, just 15 metres from the beach where Odysseus ended his odyssey.

Dexa Beach House 1

Poseidon (sleeps up to 7) – set above a small cove within the bay of Frikes.

KEFALONIA

Above the Beach (sleeps 2) – bordered by gardens of fruit trees, just above the beautiful sandy beach of Makris Yalos on Kefalonia’s south coast.

Villi’s House (sleeps up to 6) – from the front terrace you can hear the sea lapping on to the bathing rocks below.

Lassi Beach House (sleeps up to 10) – a sumptuously comfortable home just above the sandy beach of Makris Yalos.

Beach Villa (sleeps up to 12) – a private pool just above Makris Yalos sandy beach.

Beach Villa

Share the Durrell Adventure

In Episode 5 of the latest series of The Durrells, the family are invited for dinner by some Italian friends.

The Manor House, Corfu
Film location for the Durrells’ dinner at The Manor House

The beautiful Manor House was chosen as the filming location for this dinner.

The Manor House, Corfu
View from the Manor House

You too can be part of the Durrells’ adventure and have a special holiday escape on Corfu at The Manor House.

The Manor House, a mid 18th Century Venetian residence, hides away from the outside world and is a perfect venue for the Durrells. The visitors books contain the signatures of crowned heads and their families, film stars and celebrities – testament to a special comfort and privacy.

The Manor House, Corfu
A Manor House bedroom

The house has the peaceful feel of a bygone era but modern touches include a 72 square metre pool. The views over the channel between Corfu and the mainland of Greece, are magnificent.

The Manor House, Corfu
The pool at The Manor House

We can offer good availability in June, July and September for parties up to 10.

 

New Year Newsletter 2017

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.

25th March Celebrations on Ithaca

Greeks love to celebrate, be it their birthday or name day (γιορτη), religious holidays, bank holidays or national days. Whatever the celebration – Greek people celebrate to the full, throwing themselves into the spirit of the day!

25th March in Greece is a national holiday – to celebrate the start of the Greek Uprising/the Greek Revolution/the Greek War of Independence in 1821. It also celebrates the Annunciation (Ευαγγελισμος): the day Archangel Gabriel paid a visit to Mary to inform her that she would be giving birth to the son of Christ on 25th December.

In fact 25th March is a day of three celebrations as it is also the “name day” of all those named Ευγγελος (boys) and Ευαγγελια (girls).

25th March parade in Vathy, Ithaca
25th March parade in Vathy, Ithaca

A day off work and school, church services in the morning to commemorate the occasion, followed by a parade through the streets of cities, towns and villages by the school children of all ages, either dressed in blue and white (national colours) or for the younger children the traditional costumes. A marching band often accompanies the parade and local characters will join in as well.

25th March parade in Vathy, Ithaca
25th March parade in Vathy, Ithaca

 

After the parade, people will make their way home to indulge in the traditional meal of Μπακαλιαπος (fried cod fish) and σκορδαλια (mashed potato and garlic). As this day also falls in the Lenten period where no meat or fish should be eaten the Orthodox church decreed an exception for the 25th March allowing the salted cod fish to be eaten.

Vathy, Ithaca
Thanasis, a Vathy (Ithaca) fisherman and avid Olympiakos fan

ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΠΟΛΛΑ ΕΛΛΑΔΑ

Carnival Season

Carnival season in Greece (“Apokries”) starts 3 weeks before Easter.

Carnival time in Vathy, Ithaca

Fancy dress processions through the streets, dancing groups and music bands. Bystanders throw confetti, streamers and sometimes firecrackers.

Vathy Carnival Procession

Clean Monday (“Katheri Leftera”) marks the beginning of Lent when meat, dairy and eggs are avoided by those who observe it.

If the sun shines on Clean Monday, families picnic outside with “lagana” (an unleavened flat bread), taramosalata, shellfish and salads, followed by sticky deserts. The skies are filled with colourful kites – another part of tradition

Our Clean Monday feast on Palikastritsa beach

Best 4 Tips for Parking at Airports at the Ionian

Top Tips for Airport Parking

Let’s face it: compared to the excitement, promise and glamour of almost all other aspects of preparing for a holiday, parking at the airport is probably the least attractive. But consider the problems that can arise when trying to park in any other situation. Unexpected difficulties can often arise and can result in serious delays. When you’re catching a booked flight those are delays you cannot afford. By taking a little time to undertake some research and make the right choices you can avoid stress, anxiety and possibly even missing your flight. Here are some Top Tips for Airport Parking to help:

  1. Don’t leave booking too late

With all of the other things to think about when planning a holiday, many people leave it to the last minute before they think about parking. This is going to cause not only stress and worry but it will also cost you hard cash. Peak holiday times not only mean increased costs of flights and accommodation, but filter through to pretty much everything else, including parking charges. As would be expected, parking charges increase as spaces become scarcer. Early booking can reduce charges and by tackling a booking several months before your flight you can relax and spend more time researching in order to find the best deal. Try to ensure that your booking can be cancelled, however, to reflect any unforeseen changes that may arise. The reason this is number one in these Top Tips for Airport Parking is that it is so important; failure to book early limits choice and forces you to accept what is available rather than what would be your first choice.

2. Choose a secure car park

Whether you are going to be leaving your vehicle for a day, weekend or a week or more, you want to know that it is going to be safe while you do so. Spend some time researching possible car parks that meet your needs. Has the one that appeals to you most been independently inspected? Does it have, for example, the ‘Park Mark’? This is a system whereby parks are assessed for both security and levels of maintenance. It is a Police crime prevention initiative and whilst absolute guarantees of security can never be given, choosing a park with the Park Mark accreditation offers some peace of mind.

3. Study different car parking packages

There are several different options available, so choose what suits you best:

-Park and Ride. This is just the same as the shopping scheme. Your car is parked in a location a short bus ride from the airport. This makes it cheaper as it is not on-site at the airport. Shuttles transfer you after parking. Both airports and independent operators offer this service.

– Parking at the airport. This is usually the most expensive option as you are very close to the terminal.

– Meet and greet. This is a medium-priced option. A driver meets you at the airport terminal, usually helps you with luggage, then drives your car to the car park and secures it. The process is reversed on your return. This option offers much convenience as you stop at the actual terminal but don’t pay the highest price and you don’t have to worry about the bus trip between the car park and terminal. Very useful for those with small children, busy business people and those with restricted mobility.

4. Best way of shopping around: use consolidators

Although this is listed last it is one of the most important. It is really important to shop around, but you can take a lot of the work out of doing so by using consolidators such as SkyParkSecure. Consolidators are similar to price-comparison websites: they gather information about different car parking products available for different airports and compare details and pricing, making it easy to identify the product that best suits your needs and budget without having to do the leg work yourself. SkyParkSecure’s map feature is particularly helpful if you’re concerned about how far away from the airport the car park you’re thinking about booking is.

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!

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.

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.”

Post snow streams

Ionian Villas Celebrates 5 Years of Success

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

© 2018 Ionian Villas Limited

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

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