A Travellerspoint blog

Get Her to the Greek: Day One

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger...Doesn't It?

Unless you are talking about getting hit by a bus, in which case, you certainly wouldn’t end up stronger. You’d end up with a funny limp and a medical assistance border collie named Fergus.

But I digress….

Back to the story at hand.

I was drowsing lazily in a fluffy white bed, gauzy curtains breezing around me as a ceiling fan slowly whump-whump-whumped from the ceiling. I could hear the ocean waves just below the villa. I rolled over languidly when…

….suddenly I heard a screeching like a bat and a fire alarm had an unholy baby. What is it Lassie? Is it a hurricane flood warning? Are tornadoes coming? Is the villa on fire???

No. It was just the alarm clock. The 6:00 a.m. alarm clock. On my first day of vacation. In Greece.

This was so WRONG.

In our exhausted stupor of the night before, we had apparently agreed to pay Antonia’s nephew to take us out on his boat IMMEDIATELY. No unpacking, no settling in, no buying food. Just jump up, get dressed, and get on the boat. Antonia has been so insistent and we simply didn't have the heart to hurt her feelings.

I didn't even WANT to do a boat trip on Zakynthos. It wasn't part of the PLAN.

Y’all know how much I hate interrupted plans.

My itinerary (of course there was an itinerary…who do you think I am?), included sleeping in, making the short 2 minute drive to the market for food, and lazing around the villa until lunchtime, when we would pry ourselves off our chairs and make our way to a beach.

It did not include getting up at some profane hour and jumping in a boat to God Knows Where with no breakfast.

And no coffee.

Oh, hell to the no……I didn’t have any coffee!!!

We had 20 minutes. That was just enough time to run to the market before getting on the boat. We could make it. We ran out of the villa before remembering we didn’t have the car keys.

Or any keys.

We had locked ourselves out.

We wasted our beautiful 20 minutes getting the housekeeper to let us back in.

I was cursing under my breath...…when Antonia came out of her little cottage with a complete breakfast tray. AND COFFEE. That gained her a few points back that she'd lost for the whole you-get-on-boat debacle.

30620776617_b916713f6a.jpg

“I knew you had no time for food or grocery. I make breakfast. Eat. Then go.”

Lovely, beautiful, blessed Antonia.

Jackie O stood sentry while we had crispy toasted gouda sandwiches with basil and a plate of fresh tomatoes.

She won points for breakfast, but I was still secretly wishing upon Antonia that every chocolate chip cookie she ate for the rest of her life turned out to be raisins – because really…the boat? I didn’t want to go out on any boat.

For one thing, there was nothing I wanted to see by boat. For another, it was WINDY and the boat was SMALL. I know what that means.

I was having flashbacks to the ill-fated whale shark tour we had done in Roatan where the boat bounced so violently that the captain had to move me to the front and tether me to the seat with ropes for fear that I would be catapulted into the waves. My tailbone never recovered. And I'm pretty sure I'm still an inch shorter than I was.

Our captain spoke little to no English. As Matt tried to extract from him exactly where we would be going, we climbed in and our fate was sealed.

“Caves?” he asked us.

Matt looked at me and shrugged.

“Caves are good,” I said.

Whew. I was afraid he was going to try to take us to Shipwreck Beach. While I wanted to see it from above, I had no desire to see Shipwreck from below. THIS is not my idea of a fabulous vacation moment:

shipwreck.JPG

I'd sooner shave my head in exchange for a McRib Combo Meal than go to that beach. Or go back to middle school.... with a bad haircut and the wrong shoes. Heck, I'd rather sleep naked on a gas station bathroom floor than go to that beach. Me and crowds don't mix. Especially on beaches.

The caves were actually supposed to be quite phenomenal. I knew the caves were close by and would keep us close to the shore where the water was calmer. I also assumed it would be a short trip and get us back before lunch. Maybe this wasn't so bad.

43744210630_1c98aa1869.jpg

44836758184_e7ab8f5880.jpg

31689308058_832e006764.jpg

45511341222_5a2b69a6f2.jpg

44647508305_5ed5ba8fa5.jpg

30620604137_be3d979fc2.jpg

30620568347_c791ae3ba4.jpg

45561653391_850262d896.jpg

44647413795_872a5f61a2.jpg

44836466454_9bbd3b6d19.jpg

30620374347_66eca981a1.jpg

44836326704_e3d46c8dbf.jpg

45511255152_b91db741ea.jpg

44647106835_595415e81b.jpg

45561223611_3eab2c7126.jpg

31688852098_e068229fc9.jpg

31688921118_28a39d2eeb.jpg

Despite being torn from my beautiful villa so early on my first day, the boat ride was lovely. The water shimmered in every color of blue and the cliffs rose dramatically beside the boat. The caves were beautiful and mysterious and we felt we had this liquid world to ourselves.

Except when he decided to go INSIDE one of the caves. And got the boat stuck. And knocked the bimini top off. But we made it out. All good.

I was feeling pretty good about the boat ride, assuming that we’d spend these couple of hours in the morning looking at the caves and we’d be back before lunch and could resume our day, uninterrupted.

That’s when the captain abruptly turned the boat to open sea, cranked it up to high gear, and headed north.

As my body was slammed onto the hard seat again and again, and my spine literally lost inches with each minute that passed, I looked at Matt, stricken. I was going to be 4'8" by the time this ride was over and I was pretty sure I had just bitten my tongue.

“Where are we going?” I mouthed to Matt.

He shrugged. “What else is out here?” he mouthed back.

Oh dear sweet baby Jesus in a manger….we were going to Shipwreck Beach. That meant at least a 1 hour body pounding ride that would take us around the north tip of the island to the other side. If it was this rough in the calm bay, I could only imagine what would happen to us when we left the protected coast and traveled around. I already felt like I had been shot out of a canon onto a very wet, bucking bull ride.

Not only that, I looked out to sea and saw several MASSIVE boats loaded with hundreds of people heading to the same place.

Um…no. I hadn't traveled 33 hours to spend my first day getting beat to death on a small boat for 2 hours just to see a beach covered with ten thousand people.

“ABORT! ABORT!” I used every secret hand signal and mind control effort to send my thoughts to Matt and he picked up what I was laying down. God bless 19 years of marriage. He can read me like a cheap paperback.

“Hey, buddy,” Matt said in his perfect southern drawl, “Exactly where are we headed?”

“Shipwreck. You go Shipwreck. Everyone go Shipwreck,” he replied.

“Nah…” Matt said, “We don’t want to go to Shipwreck. We’d just like to poke around the bay here and head back.”

The captain looked at us like we had just sprouted 4 heads, but he turned back, saving my sanity and my spine.

Instead, we made a leisurely stop at the beautifully deserted Xigia Beach. This was more my speed. We enjoyed the pebbled beach and crystal clear water before jumping back into the boat and asking him to take us back.

The beach had two sides, separated by an outcropping of rock. One side had loungers, umbrellas, and quite a few people. Our side? Blissfully deserted.

45510782212_2ea413d693.jpg

44835595314_c4bf8e120b.jpg

45561104851_b906f3e4b6.jpg

30619965617_a84c6095e2.jpg

43743348690_098d659698.jpg

43743310130_84ccb2b73b.jpg

45510508412_5f3a04a821.jpg

44835618584_b564fe3680.jpg

30619707547_a838feb298.jpg

As we pulled back to Ammoudi, we had a beautiful view of our villa from the water:

45510302252_5c2335cd4f.jpg

We made it back just before lunch and had time to explore our digs a little bit. It had been too dark the night before and too rushed that morning.

Paradisso Beach Villas is essentially a beachfront mansion that has been divided into a trio of incredibly lovely properties. We had rented Villa Antonia, the top floor of the main house. It was simply exquisite.

44834387834_e61b81c11e.jpg

45508827312_088fe69b66.jpg

44645001045_dbd7a404ac.jpg

43744439250_6235376b3c.jpg

30620960057_f3c67c5acf.jpg

45562045391_53155894b5.jpg

31689586468_04e42931e4.jpg

30620927017_6e27c2a4b9.jpg

30620912787_02dacf6192.jpg

44647879285_e078fe9f22.jpg

44647868395_d4d1581943.jpg

45509083182_dfe7986096.jpg

31689494878_e55f38cfb8.jpg

43744276970_cc36ec510f.jpg

We wanted to head to lunch and the beach so we did the only thing we could, for fear that Antonia would realize we had bailed early on the boat trip…we hid behind bushes and ran to our Jeep.

We relied heavily on Google Maps on our iPhones on this trip. Sometimes it worked (like the night before in the dark, thankyoujesus). Sometimes it didn’t.

30619583167_5791eb4f9b.jpg

30619536677_f9080a0d6f.jpg

45560537571_50b263bb86.jpg

44835373184_368e71f9f8.jpg

At some point, we found ourselves on a terrible dirt road, littered with the occasional discarded mattress and lots of goats but not much else.

“Are you sure this is right?” Matt asked.

“Heck if I know, it’s where Google said to go.” It was then that we saw the REAL road (i.e., the paved road with no dirty mattresses or fear of lurking hobos) running parallel to us, just down the mountain a bit. Live and learn. At least it got us there intact.

We had seen the beautiful Xigia beach from below, so we decided to enjoy it from above, stopped at the Xigia Tavern, perched precariously on the cliff’s edge with a bird’s eye view of the stunning shoreline.

30619372227_6086d10e2e.jpg

43742821470_269ea9c4c7.jpg

44835003784_0c5e937a1f.jpg

30619041657_d14a8e6e35.jpg

30618997977_f9283d9fa6.jpg

43742364800_d6a0deb7b0.jpg

47423261021_bfbce61a9e.jpg

We selected a table with a view (they all had views….) and ordered our first Greek feast: olives and wine, bread with fresh tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese, a tomato salad, pasta with meatballs, and grilled shrimp. We ate while watching the huge boats pull up to the beach below, the beach that was uninhabited except for us just hours earlier was now crawling with hundreds of desperate, sweaty bodies.

45509776012_987d5c98f3.jpg

Do you see that HUGE boat? Do you know how many people are on that? Do you know how small that beach was? Madness.

44646245875_0de490c848.jpg

45509956872_0c7f189a80.jpg

43742702590_e9f203e0bc.jpg

31687709248_91b423fe23.jpg

44835145284_0425cd9c50.jpg

45560206121_4cf36b8db7.jpg

44835091404_180ddaf678.jpg

43742558260_f6310ee69f.jpg

We smiled and sipped our wine, lazy cats twining around our ankles (We learned on day one that every restaurant came with cats. Lots of cats. Lots and lots of cats.)

With the bill came the ever present little plate of watermelon. They simply couldn’t bear to see you leave without offering you something sweet, more like a kind friend than a proprietor.

Even though we’d had sufficient beach time, we decided to make the drive to Makris Gialos Beach and see if it was worth the fuss. En route, we saw a fresh orange juice stand. I’m a sucker for a painted van, so we stopped. The views alone were worth the stop, but that juice….oh my.

44834599114_c7eb8f9306.jpg

45559579561_7f41032955.jpg

31687007068_abbdbefe1b.jpg

44645400745_c1cb6a56a4.jpg

45559450151_81dd46f842.jpg

45559463881_b75f669e9f.jpg

30618479227_a60794d004.jpg

Makris Gialos was beautiful, but we were both hankering to get back to our own place and stretch out in privacy.

30618683017_14553e5dca.jpg

44645752725_7f9fee7a02.jpg

30618815017_1df29818a9.jpg

31687211328_1801aea79f.jpg

We headed back to the villa and traded time between our seafront daybed and the loungers down by the sea. We were joined by a wet Jackie who stood sentry while we read books and sipped wine.

44834275114_1b55aa4e95.jpg

45508920702_4600e5431f.jpg

30618179167_dce9b149dd.jpg

33547399628_5d89a8b4c6.jpg

30618237727_f10de8c545.jpg

43741753190_fd7b2d3174.jpg

44834362304_db750b6829.jpg

45509121482_bcc7c2169b.jpg

After a lazy afternoon, we cleaned up and walked down to the Ammoudi Fish Tavern for cocktails (and cats). Their caipirinha was spot on. It was quickly becoming a favorite spot to end the day.

30618081737_2528159f82.jpg

43741473520_3e3ba99e0d.jpg

30618061867_ba3fdd3f61.jpg

33547409778_366f5d191d.jpg

45559053961_f3dcc932e9.jpg

31686512888_6b5564a751.jpg

44644899045_87f9da435c.jpg

45508702882_131b55d8e1.jpg

45559073031_68745c13d9.jpg

As the sun began to set, we drove the short distance to To Petrodosiako for dinner. I loved the quiet rural simplicity of the villages.

And I loved this GOAT!

43741924750_13e79ed06b.jpg

44645326365_f65e36f5ab.jpg

45558987091_4c6a0d28f7.jpg

Dinner was a gluttonous affair, with garlic dip, arugula and parmesan salad, baked feta, stewed beef, and pastitsio, a baked pasta dish with gooey cheese and béchamel. It was like mac n’cheese on steroids.

45558971981_671859e0b3.jpg

44644820485_e1998b31ee.jpg

45558929131_c4bfd39bb0.jpg

31686431338_f30acf8e48.jpg

44644802065_c5afbf98c6.jpg

44644792915_00e6e7c067.jpg

As usual, they couldn’t let us leave without a small gift of food or drink. This time is was a frozen limoncello, so delicious it made me want to cry.

47370464852_7ef9737e72.jpg

Posted by vicki_h 05:31 Archived in Greece Tagged greece corfu zante kefalonia greek_islands ionian_islands zykanthos shipwreck_beach navagio_beach cephalonia

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint