Travel Guide of Kefalonia - Part 2
The capital of the island, a place from which you can reach everywhere. It abounds in numerous cafes, restaurants, taverns and souvenir shops. It is the center of social life, especially at night. In addition to the main street, Lithostroto and Plateia Valianou, the main attraction that encourages tourists to visit Argostoli is the port. The port to which local fishermen arrive every morning, selling fresh fish. However, this is not the biggest incentive for tourists ... it is Caretta caretta sea turtles. Every day from the early hours to 12 and even afternoon you can see these beautiful creatures, which are just a few centimeters from our feet. Wildlife Sense volunteers stand guard over turtles. They patrol the port area every day, informing tourists about the protection program, but also if necessary, pay attention not to feed turtles or not to touch them. Being in Argostoli, take a break from shopping for souvenirs and go to one of the cafes. How many cafes in Argostoli, so many equal prices for coffee can be found ... in the hot weather, iced coffee is recommended.
If you have more time, I recommend going for a walk along the sea to another of the lovely places - Fanari - St. Theodore Lighthouse. This walk takes place on a 3-kilometer route, where we pass several beach places that are worth taking advantage of on this hot day. One of the beaches is Maistrato, where we can observe huge tourist ships coming to the port. Going further, among the scenery of a pine forest, we pass the Museum of Natural History of Kefalonia and Ithaca. Slowly approaching the destination, we pass a restaurant where you can eat something while going further small local taverns over the next more tourist beach. A few hundred meters away, Fanari appears to our eyes. In high season, a place crowded with tourists, off-season calm place where you can relax listening to the sound of waves. The lighthouse is 8 meters tall and has a round shape. It was built in 1828-1829. The great earthquake (1953) destroyed it, but after eleven years it was rebuilt.
If you do not have time for such a trip to Fanari, I recommend a short walk from the center of Argostoli, going along the promenade to the Devoseto bridge (Drapano).
Continue straight on, walk past the tavern and the water equipment rental. We are guided all the time by the designated promenade - we want to discover the delights of the Koutavous lagoon. Walking, we pass cafes, where you can buy a fredo cappuccino or frappe (price: 2 euros). Wandering further, we go all the time by the sea line. For a moment, we hear the sounds of passing cars, but in a few moments silence and birds' singing enveloped us. We encounter waterfowl: swans, ducks, geese and innumerable Eurasian coots.
After greeting with the birds, we go further. We are showing an additional path to the right. Here I leave you to choose which one you want to follow. To the right there is a walking path and surroundings of beautiful green bushes and lavender. The path by the sea will lead you to the Mouse Island, which unfortunately can not be entered...
2. Katavothres - one of the Kefalonian curiosities...
The Melissani cave is located near Sami and the village of Karavomylos. The distance between Argosotli and Melissani is around 28 km (route by car - about 40 minutes). Where does the connection of Katavothres (located next Fanari) with the Melissani cave located in a completely different place? I will answer this question in a moment. First, however, I will explain what is Katavothres and what is there. Katavothres is nothing more than a place where there is a famous, small coast with a water mill. For many years he has been a phenomenon that many scientists visited. What interest them so much in an ordinary mill? We must move back to 1963, when Austrian scientists decided to throw huge kilograms of colored powder into the mill. After 14 days, he appeared in the caves of Melissani and other places in the area of Sami and Ag. Efimia. Researchers then proved that the water from Katavothres crossed an underground road of 15 km to appear in Lake Melissani.
While in the Melissani cave, it is worth taking a moment to consider this fact when observing the color of water in the lake, which is the result of the mixing of waters with different salinity. It is also worth visiting Katavothres to see for yourself the place so fascinating for many scientists. There, you can visit the Katavothres Club-Restaurant serving food, but also drinks and cocktails with sunsets and nearby boats.
2. St. George Castle
Castle of St. George, is located on the top of the hill called Ayios Yeorgios, which dominates the south-western part of the island. The hill was first fortified in Byzantine times, when the castle itself seemed to be closed on the top around the church of St. George, from whom he took his name. For three centuries (1185-1485) various western rulers who ruled the island widened the fortress and used it as a military center. During the Turkish occupation in 1479-1481 and 1485-1500, the fortress was subject to various reconstructions, which until today are difficult to identify. Today, we can observe the dominance of the work of the Venetians who occupied the castle after its destruction in 1500. In 1504 the reconstruction of the fortress began, which, however, did not end in success until 1545. The walls of the castle are irregular and their total length is 600 meters. They were strengthened by three bastions, of which the south-east is the strongest.
A settlement developed in the castle, which later expanded beyond its walls and created a suburb of Borgo.
When the Venetians moved the headquarters of their administration to Argostoli, the castle deteriorated and gradually depopulated (1757).
Under the British protectorate and during the Second World War, the castle was destroyed, but the worst was in 1953 when a huge earthquake struck the island.
To this day, the castle is one of the most important elements of architecture and a testimony to the history that took place in Kefalonia for thousands of years.
Castle of St. George is a place I recommend to visit, especially if you are interested in history or just like such "castle atmosphere". In addition, he encourages the fact that admission is free (for now, because the castle has been open to visitors for several years, so when tourists come here, some entrance fees may apply). From the top there is a wonderful view of the entire Argostoli, nearby villages and a view of the sea. Going around the castle in the evening you can admire its lighting, which makes a really big impression.
The castle is open to tourists from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 to 15:30. Free entrance
4. St. Gerasimos Monastery
St. Gerasimos is the patron of the island. He came to the monastery in 1560 to restore the chapel of the Dormition of the Virgin (Orthodox Church). While staying here, he founded a female monastery, which was given the name of the Saint Jerusalem. On August 15, 1579 St. Gerasimos died and after five years his body was exhumed. It was discovered then that they were not decomposed and a sweet smell was felt around them. The faithful recognized this as a sign of the sanctity of Gerasimos and since then this place has become a place of religious worship, to which the faithful from all over Greece come every year on 15 and 16 August.
St. Gerasimos Day is celebrated twice a year: August 16 and October 20. In these days the relics of the saint leave the tomb. At that time, one of the performed ceremonies is to walk the faithful together with the carried crate with relics around the grounds next to the church. The faithful put themselves in a vertical position under the moved chest to get lucky for the whole next year.
During 15 and 16 August, besides participating in the church service, the faithful celebrate by visiting the fair, which is located right next to the building of the new church.
When you will be on Kefalonia, I recommend to come here in the afternoon (the Monastery is open from 4 pm in the afternoon) or even early evening. Then you will have opportunity to walk around the Monastery and the church, explore plants and definitely you will have time for reflection.