As I am writing, I am unsure if this will live to see the light of day. I am sorry I know you want me to share my experience with the world but I am scared, scared for you, worried that the masses will ruin my magical secret.
You are an unspoilt world, somewhere incredible and as yet, unrinsed by tourism. I can see your potential and know that millions of others would love you too. Should I declare my adoration for you with the rest of the world, tell every friend and stranger I meet in the street, shout about your history and culture all over social media, or could I keep you a secret. I want to preserve you, make you remain in my dream home closet. Somewhere I would jump at the chance to live, relishing in your unknown delights.
Ithaca you are peaceful, beautiful and traditional. I was lucky to spend a summer staying in a variety of your quaint little rooms, mornings opening the wooden shutters to sunshine, incredible views and the smell of Greek coffee wafting in my room. (Tough life I know!) What stood out for me most Ithaca were your people. Even more friendly than other islands in Greece (who thought that was possible?). Proud of their island and eager to share this wonderful place with the world. So it is for them that I have decided to write this post. People do need to see you, meet the locals and forget those other Islands ruined by bar streets and ever growing resorts. People need to visit the real islands and they will soon realise why it is of my favourite country. Ithaca I want to makes you happy and I pray that they don’t spoil you or take away that unique charm that you so openly shared with me.
I hope to see you soon. Taste your fresh baked bread, dipped in oil recently pressed from your masses of olive groves. Drive round your tiny villages finding yet another empty beach. I can’t wait to wander through Vathy again deciding on which restaurant to venture in this time, but for now, I hope you stay beautiful, happy and pure. You are an extraordinary island.
The need to know bits
Ithaca is located next to Kefalonia (another great island by the way!) as part of the Ionian Islands within Greece. There is no airport so you actually have to take a ferry from Kefalonia or Athens in order to get there. I have a theory, which certainly stems true here that the best places to visit are not easy to get to, that is why they remain magical without the hordes of tourists. If you book a holiday to Ithaca as a package then depending on your flight versus ferry time you may have to spend a night at either end of your holiday in Kefalonia (or both). Check with your operator for details as there is only a couple of boats a day. Many a tour operator has stopped sending guests to the island due to difficulty in getting there, particularly in the event of flight delays and the hordes of complaints that generally follow afterwards. Please do bear in mind the restrictions of ferries and if it all sounds like too much for you, spend your holiday in Kefalonia and take a day trip instead.
Transport from the ferry to your hotel will likely be by taxi due to location of the accommodations, most coaches you see on the island will be day trippers from Kefalonia. (There is not much use for large buses here) Once you arrive, many of the accommodations are still family run and some will not have receptions or pools. It truly is back to basics in some of the resorts but the joy being that there is always a couple of traditional looking taverna’s around for you to taste delicious Greek cuisine.
It is a small island , perfect to drive around easily as there is very little traffic but you will have to master those Greek bends, cliff edges and some steep hills quickly. If you don’t fancy driving you will have to rely on taxis as the bus service is not really worth mentioning.
If you are here to relax and you are happy just wandering around one area then I would recommend staying in Vathy. This is the capital with a lovely port, small museum, restaurants, bars and with a few small beaches on the outskirts you don’t have to venture too far.
There are quite a few unusual gift stores with many handmade items so souvenirs are no problem. There is the option of getting boats between some resorts and there is many sail boats parked around if that is more your way to explore. If you are lucky you might meet a local who offers to take you out and explore the island with them. The locals are very proud to be Ithacan and will happily talk to you for hours about their home.
Like the idea of following in the footsteps of a Greek legend? Well Ithaca is the island of King Odysseus whose adventures are told in Homers Odyssey. There has even been some archaeological finds on the island to back up the story and many a sight relating to this for you to explore including the cave of the nymphs.
Any questions? Just let me know, I am happy for any excuse to talk about this place 🙂