Kefalonia : Piccolo Yiro

Please click on the links to see some of the photos which go with this blog.

We were taking another walk from our guidebook Walk & Eat Kefalonia and set off from the Hotel Lorenzo in Lassi at 1012, after grabbing some breakfast, and it looked and felt as though it had rained overnight.  It was overcast and cool.  We were going to take the coast walk to Argostoli, which would include a number of tourist attractions.  We reached our junction by the supermarket next to the access to Gradakia Beach at 1024 and started our walk along the Piccolo Yiro (which is now the Fanari Road).  The sign at the junction very helpfully told us what we should see : the lighthouse, the waterwheel, the geological phenomenon.  We took a quick look at the Sto Psito restaurant and decided we would give it a try that evening, which could have been the best decision we took all week.  This was a very pleasant route, a country lane walk among the olive groves and pine trees, overlooking the coast and the rural road is rolling gently downhill.  It passes by one of my favourite pieces of the Kefalonian landscape, Kalamia Beach, and there are lots of other similar inlets.  We pass by the original location of Oskars (which has now moved to the Lassi Main Road), and admire his photo with the former Blue Peter presenter, Simon Thomas.  We wonder just how popular Blue Peter is on the island.  Everything in this area of the countryside just seems so natural, as though it has just been left to its own devices and come out so well.  It certainly gives an impression of which way the wind blows, and it is interesting and refreshing just how much ground has nothing specifically on it.  The road is gradually moving away from the coast, and of course, there is also something very unpleasant along this route, and we got to ‘the pit‘ at 1105, at a point where a descending road joins from the right.  This is a pit where the German wehrmacht executed 200 officers of the Italian ‘Acqui’ Division in September 1943.  It is very unassuming and subdued, hardly signposted, and very sobering along such a beautiful trail.  The road to the right leads to a memorial to the tragic events but we will not be visiting that today.

We continued on along the coast road and it started to rain at 1115.  We had one raincoat with us.  I did not get to wear it.  At 1125 we arrived at the Ag Theodori Lighthouse, converted from a windmill in 1829 and rebuilt after the 1953 earthquake.  I wanted to take a clear photograph of it from the shore but a car had driven up in front of it.  Shame.  It was difficult to get a photograph from the other side without swimming out to sea.  It is a lovely little building.  We took a few moments there before we continued along the coast road again, pretty much missing the small church of Ag Theodori, though I could see a bell tower, before we reached a deserted Fanari Beach on our left as we were passing what appeared to be a defunct nightclub (although I am sure I saw a poster in Argostoli for an event there the following weekend), before we stopped at Katavothres.  We could see the water channels and the waterwheel was operating, but as with the Thalassomilos mill which came later on the walk, the main establishment appears to be closed at the moment.  I think we were just here a week too soon.  This is the geological phenomenon, which you cannot actually see because it is the fact that sea water pours into a hole in the ground and disappears.  It then comes out over on the other side of the island.  We decided to keep along the shore road to Argostoli because we wanted to eat at Patsouras Taverna, a recommendation from our excellent guidebook, but either we could not find it or it has closed.  This did bring us past the marina and the Merchant Naval Academy (the buildings of which are in the shape of a ship, from a certain angle (and with a certain turn of mind)), and, unlike a couple of days before and after my practice with secret NATO radar bases, I did manage to take a photograph of the Coastguard office while we were looking for the restaurant, so all was not lost.  As we could not find our restaurant of choice we went to the Captain’s Table, just to find out why it was so popular.  The menu was hardly inspiring but we just wanted something basic as we would be eating properly later.  We sat down at 1300.  Debbie ordered an El Dorado cocktail.  The Long Island cocktail which she got (and drank, regardless) cost the same as her pasta main course.  It was 1340 when the food arrived – they really are not in any sort of rush around here, which is a good thing.  It was surprisingly fresh and absolutely delicious.  A pleasant surprise to confound my expectation, and a good conclusion to a fine morning.

That evening we set off along a back route from the Hotel Mediterranee to join the Lassi Main Road a bit further up and then took the Piccolo Yiro again to get to Sto Psito for dinner.  We had clearly not read their sign properly when we passed by earlier because we had arrived before 1900, which is when they were due to open.  We had also not looked at the menu properly earlier and now I was a little worried that it might be too basic – I need not have been worried at all because there was more than enough of a selection and each and every dish was exquisite.  The photos show you just how good it looked, but cannot do justice to the wonderful flavours – only trying it for yourself will do that.  This was our find of the holiday, and thanks have to go to the guidebook for recommending such an excellent restaurant just off the beaten track.  To get in we walked over the little bridge which spans the ponds containing fish and terrapin and took a table in the outside part of the restaurant, by the edge overlooking Kalamia Beach, and had a perfect view of the sunset as we ate.  If you go to Kefalonia you should find this restaurant and thank me afterwards for telling you about it.

We decided to conclude the Piccolo Yiro walk on Friday 1 June by going to the Italian Memorial, setting off from our Hotel Lorenzo along the main strip in Lassi to the Dolphin Supermarket, then joining the Piccolo Yiro once more and walking under a full, hot sun along the track between the pine trees and the olive groves until we reached the pit.  This time we turned right and made the winding ascent up the hill, enjoying the views we were leaving behind us of the lighthouse and of Lixouri across the water, and also enjoying the immediate views of the countryside around us.  The sun was definitely hotter this morning than earlier in the week, and its light added to the colours we were encountering.  We found the track on our left which leads down to Katavothres, and beside it was the lovely shrine dedicate to Ag Varvara (Saint Barbara, the patron saint of the artillery).  This is a Greek memorial to the tragic events of 1943, and is tucked away at the edge of the woods, just off the roadway.  The setting is very tranquil, restful, and a wonderful place for contemplation and reflection.  There are some ruined buildings in the woods, and they make a stark contrast to the simply constructed and carefully tended shrine.  We stayed there for a little while and then continued along the road, before just round the corner and at the top of the hill is the Italian Memorial, commemorating the massacre in September 1943 of thousands of Italian soldiers of the Acqui Division.  The memorial is simple and poignant, and there is a history on a noticeboard beside it which makes for very sober reading.  We were glad to have made the walk up to here, and again stayed for a little while in silent contemplation.  Now we began the descent into Argostoli, still in the relaxing sounds of the nature around us, enjoying some wonderful views over the port from up here on the hill, winding our way down until all too soon we were out of the countryside and within the edges of the city before reaching the front.  And how different those edges are to the hill we had just come off, but I suppose such is the way when you come to any city.  We walked all the way along the front, passing by much busier markets this time, until we came to Politiko and both had omelette for lunch.  A great way to end the morning.  The beach was planned for the afternoon and for the first time in years I swam in the sea, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and then we decided to return to Sto Psito and the food was excellent once again, and the sunset probably the best of the holiday.  The restaurant is very definitely recommended for its food and location.

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