Remembering Kefalonia, Greece
These short, dreary Seattle days have me longing for sun and surf. The lack of daylight has got me in a funk, and I often find myself dreaming of exotic beaches and salt infused breezes. The constant drizzle outside then snaps me back into reality as I am faced with day after day of grey skies and minimal daylight. I could move to California where glossy advertisements from Disneyland and Napa Valley hold promise for constant sunshine and eternal happiness, but the logistics of such a move are daunting. Instead, I reminisce of adventures past where the warmth of sunny beaches is almost tangible on my skin -- or perhaps that is just the space heater radiating hot dry air into my face. Either way, I am utilizing some visual therapy to remind me that the sun will return, and if not I will go in a desperate search for it. Truth be told - my friend Natalie and I recently booked tickets to a tropical oasis in the Caribbean, but you'll just have to wait and see where we end up.
So I now take you back two summers ago when Dan and I made the trek to a small island in Greece called Kefalonia. It was there that we practiced the art of Greek living: sleeping late, enjoying long meals on sun lit terraces, and dancing the night away on cozy, cobbled squares.
We had the best instructors -- we were there visiting friends who are originally from Kefalonia, along with all their aunts, uncles, and grandparents. To say our experience was truly Greek would be an understatement. We lived and breathed like the Greeks do, participating in all the local customs and traditions and learning all that we could from our friends.
My friend Tamara's family lives in a small community just outside the bustling port city of Argostoli. The town -- if you could even call it that -- was so small that the only amenities included a little shop out of a home where cold sodas and ice creams were available for purchase. The rest of the time the only indication of activity came in the early mornings and late afternoons as a cacophony of bells echoed through the valley while goats were herded through the fields.
Tamara's family is from a long line of olive growers. Her family still owns an olive grove and we spent an afternoon walking through the fields of trees learning about the importance and history of olive trees in the Greek Islands. Still to this day their entire small community gets together for a huge festival to harvest the olives and celebrate in the bounty of the earth.
We spent our mornings lounging on the terrace overlooking the arid fields to the blue of the Mediterranean. Our meals were some of the best I have ever had - fresh local bread, ripe juicy fruits, and the unforgettable tang of handmade feta cheese. It took awhile to become accustomed to the schedule of meals - breakfasts around 11, a small lunch around 2, and a large lingering dinner around 10 in the evening.
My favorite beach on Kefalonia was Myrtos Beach where smooth white pebbles comprised the sloped shoreline. It was here that scenes from Captain Corelli's Mandolin were filmed. The blue of the water was electric, and the people were more beautiful than any I have encountered.
We also visited the town of Assos, where we hiked to the remains of a 16th century Venetian castle. The views of Assos were breathtaking.
We took our time exploring the ruins and many of the other abandoned construction projects surrounding the fields around the castle. Our friends were well traversed in the land and took us to many hidden churches and homes - long since left to deteriorate. As always next to my toned and tanned Greek friends I felt like a plump, white country bumpkin.
The sunsets were stunning as they illuminated the parched land and set everything aglow. At the time of our visit, Kefalonia had gone over two months without a single drop of rain. Coming from a city where it rains practically three quarters of the year, I couldn't fathom such aridness.
It was difficult to leave Kefalonia. We had truly fell in love with the Greeks and their culture. The weather was pristine, the food to die for, and the beauty of the land unmatched. Our friends had taught us the Greek way of living - one where family is cherished, food is savored, and conversations are thoughtful.
Forget California, I think if I could, I would find a way back to this island paradise and spend the rest of my days growing olives and eating feta cheese. Don't tell anyone though, but I might start to miss the rain.