I bought the cruise from a travel agency located right at the entrance to Nidri, coming from the capital of Lefkas, at the junction of the ring road with the resort's main street.
We found the most modern cruise ship in Nidri - Makedonia Palace - built in 2007, 37 meters long, 8 wide, with 2 main engines that develop 720 horsepower, reach a speed of 16 knots, and can safely transport up to 500 passengers but, for reasons of safety and comfort, only half of the capacity is boarded in such cruises.
The vessel has 3 decks: - the lower one has a closed hall in the middle, with air conditioning as needed, elegant chairs and tables, upholstered sofas, and a playground for children; also at this level we have, at the stern, 2 slides for descending into the water, and at the bow a folding ladder and deck for an extremely accessible disembarkation/boarding on/from land - this is the strong argument for choosing this ship over the others, which offers a rather arduous descent, especially on the wild beaches;
- the middle deck is equipped with a well-stocked bar, comfortable chairs and sofas, toilets, showers, and the control cabin;
- the upper deck can be partially covered with a tarpaulin that is fixed on a metal frame, but it also has enough seats under the open sky, so it is preferred by lovers of a lot of sun - and here we find many tables, chairs, and sofas!
As far as we are concerned, we preferred the middle deck, obtaining (by the Olten method! :))) a privileged place in front of the vessel - otherwise, this level is the most requested, from what I observed, primarily due to the presence of the bar and toilets, but also the possibility to take pictures in the cockpit, at certain moments, very carefully chosen by the captain!
The captain of the ship (I had the feeling that he is the owner himself!) is Captain Costas, a consummate professional, who is personally involved in all the actions of the crew during the cruise - he presented the places we visited in Greek and English.
For boarding, the girl from the agency told us to show up at the port at 9:30 a.m. because at 9:45 a.m. the ship lifts anchor, and we complied exactly, like disciplined soldiers! Well, the boat left after 10.00, waiting for the departure of another similar boat - Kontogeorgis Cruises - with which it went in tandem all day, shaking a little the spirit of competition in us during the whole day, not to mention the joy and attention of the little ones!
From Nidri (locality located in the east of the island) we go south, at full speed and without stopping, leaving behind on the left the islands of Madouri (the smallest!), Scorpios and Meganisi, and on the right the island of Lefkada, where we noticed, thanks to the captain's comments, the village of Poros with the beach of Mikros Gialos and a small and charming port - Sivota - full of pleasure boats, sights that I would visit two days later, but on land!
In the southern part of the island (which we crossed from east to west!) we admired from afar the town of Vasiliki, a small port-resort located in a superb bay with right angles, a paradise for windsurfers of all ages - no I have seen so many boats of this kind in one place in my life! It was as if they were multicolored butterflies!
In the extreme west on the south side we meet Cape Dukato, the southernmost point of the island, on which we admire a 25-meter high lighthouse, from which (according to the captain!) you can see perfectly up to a distance of about 25 nautical miles, the lighthouse built on the ruins of a Greek temple - Temple of Apollo!
According to the legends, this is where Aphrodite would have thrown herself into the sea to cure herself of her love for Adonis, and this point would have been used as a place of punishment for people found guilty, who were thrown from the rocks into the sea, and if they escaped they were spared with their lives, considering that the will of fate was done! Interesting, right?!
Once we reached the western side of the island, going north, the scenery suddenly changed, capturing our attention completely: the relief became wilder, the rocks steeper, the vegetation poorer and the water (incredibly clear!) and- it changed its color shades, turning from green to a dark blue (next to Cape Dukato) and then to that superb turquoise, famous all over the world, characteristic of the beaches in the west of Lefkada, a color that can also be found in the other two islands neighbors: Kefalonia and Zakynthos!
We speed past Porto Katsiki beach and make our first stop at Egremni beach, a beach that is difficult to access from land due to the more than 250 steps that have to be climbed/descended from/to the coastal road!
Here we noticed for the first time the efficiency of the boarding-disembarking ladder on our vessel compared to that of the competition, the time for these operations being much shorter in our case!
The beach was deserted when we arrived (around 11.30), besides the fact that it is difficult to access, it is also important that the sun only appears at this time from behind the imposing rock that guards it; we stayed here for a swim and beach for about an hour and a quarter, during which time the cruise ships retreated out to sea, leaving us to enjoy the gorgeous wild beach to our heart's content - if you decide to go here you must bring everything you need!
The entry into the water is steep but there is no risk of drowning because the water keeps you on the surface without much effort!
After this real pleasure, the ship went back to the south, stopping for about 15 minutes next to Porto Katsiki beach, during which it made a 360-degree turn to admire the wonderful landscape and a photo session - it was not possible to dock here since the beach is smaller than Egremni, it was already populated at that time, being much more accessible than its surface - it only has about 80 steps to go down/up!
I was left with the regret that I did not reach this beach and on land, although I had planned this two days later, at the insistence of the family, I stayed at the beach in Vasiliki, which offered much more facilities than Porto Katsiki – fine sand, very smooth entrance to the sea, sunbeds with umbrellas, taverns, shops, water sports, etc.
The island of Kefalonia
We leave the west coast of Lefkada and head to Kefalonia, at which point the crew, particularly operative of the ship, serves the meal included in the price of the cruise - as I told you, we preferred a trip the next day instead of a meal, so we paid 6 euros for a portion of souvlaki (2 pork skewers), tzatziki and salad for our grandson who was "hungry" after the mess in Egremni!
The journey between the 2 islands lasted about half an hour, during which Captain Costas told us about Kefalonia: - it is the largest of the Ionian islands and the 6th in Greece; in 1953, when a devastating earthquake occurred, the island had a population of approximately 65,000 inhabitants and after that many of them left it - at the moment it has a little over 25,000 souls; the capital is at Argostoli, located on the western coast of the island and 10 miles from it the depth of the Ionian Sea exceeds 3,200 meters deep, etc.
We disembark in the picturesque port of Fiskardo, located in the north of the island, a fishing village that inexplicably escaped the wrath of the earthquake I mentioned and has now become an important tourist destination of the island that offers, in addition to numerous taverns, terraces, and shops of all kinds, accommodation options for all budgets and in the port, alongside the fishing boats of the locals, all kinds of pleasure craft, luxury yachts and commercial ships have made their way; the ferries connecting with the islands of Lefkada and Ithaka also dock here.
Here we lingered for about an hour and ten minutes, during which time we served the meal and walked on the beautiful seafront of the port - although the captain warned us to be careful with the bills, "we stole -o" however at the Tassia restaurant with 6 euros: the waiters inflated the bill for calamari by 2 euros (11 instead of 9!) and for a fish fillet by 4 euros (17 instead of 13!); in addition to these, I bought 2 buns, a beer, water, and a cake, all amounting to 37 euros per note! The biggest pain was that I left a 3 euro tip! "I'm not sorry for beating me, but don't make me windy"!
The island of Ithaca
The island of Ithaka (or Ithaca, as we know it!), the famous "target" of Ulysses from Homer's "Odyssey", has an area of only 96 km2 and has only about 5,000 inhabitants, it is located in the north-east of Kefalonia, to which it belongs administratively and has its capital at Vathi. Here we stopped, for about 40 minutes, in the village of Kioni, a "Fiskardo" but on a smaller scale, a picturesque town where you could take a bath (optional of course!) and where we served frappe and ice cream at much more reasonable prices than at the "squealers" in Fiskardo!
The next island we were going to visit is strikingly similar, in terms of shape, to a country very dear to me - Croatia, it has about 20 square kilometers and about 3,000 inhabitants, and the capital is called, like that of the island of Ithaca, Vathi!
It is interesting that "meganisi" translates as "the biggest", the status that the small island has compared to the other islets that are between Lefkada and mainland Greece!
It is not developed for tourism, it has relief and wild beaches (some of them can only be reached by sea, with boats rented from Nidri, where they can be found in abundance!) and belongs to Lefkada, between the 2 islands a ferry runs daily.
Here we visited the cave of Papanikolis, where Captain Latridis hid during the Second World War with the crew members of his submarine, from the Italian and German ships they were hunting, a submarine even equipped with an anti-aircraft gun!
At this cave, Captain Costas demonstrated (not that it was necessary!) all his "mastery" in terms of navigation, effectively entering the "limit" with the front of the vessel into the cave and offering us some images of dreams!
After leaving this cave located in the west of the island, a few hundred meters, going north, I noticed another one - Cave of Giovanis - smaller and less spectacular!
We were going to return to Meganisi the next day, on the occasion of the bonus transfer offered in the price of the cruise, in the northern part of the island, near the village of Spartochori, where the most beautiful beach of the island is located - Spilia Beach (about one kilometer from the port with the same name) a beach with gravel and sand, with a smooth entrance to the sea, equipped with sunbeds with umbrellas and benefiting from a well-stocked tavern!
I don't know why, but from the moment I purchased this cruise, this was the island I wanted to see the most because I've always been fascinated by the life story of Aristotle Onassis (its former owner!), a story excellently reproduced by our colleague in a review from 2013, the year in which the island was sold by the granddaughter of the Greek shipowner to a Russian billionaire, the owner of the AS Monaco football team, who gave it to his daughter as a gift its!
The price? They would say that 120 million dollars or 100 million euros! Small things!
We were advised by the fact that the island cannot be visited since it passed into the ownership of the new owners, so we were content to look from a distance at the holiday home with 35 rooms, some outbuildings, and rooms of the service staff and workers, such as and the beaches on which they were seen over time with Onasis, Maria Callas and Jackie Kennedy, the last of which was caught even in a more indecent pose!
Even though we couldn't set foot on land, Captain Costas allowed us, for half an hour, to swim right next to one of these beaches, and upon leaving, we also admired the "Christina" yacht, so named to the shipowner's girl, anchored by a small pontoon in a quiet bay of the island!
The islands of Sparti, Kastri, and Madouri
The last islands in this cruise were the smallest of those seen that day, I only reviewed them, without insisting on them too much - I only noted the fact that the first (Sparti) also belonged to Onasis and the last (Madouri) the great poet Aristotelis Valaoritis was born, grew up and wrote his work, and now the island belongs to his great-grandchildren.
We arrived at the port of Nidri at around 19.30 (about an hour behind the planned time!) and upon disembarkation, Captain Costas thanked us for being his guests and invited us to serve the evening meal ( for a fee, of course!) at one of the best taverns in the resort - "El Greco", a place owned by his sister!
Excuse me for rambling on, but please believe me that I did it without realizing it, telling you about the most beautiful cruise I ever took and that I highly recommend!
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