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Day 13 - The (hidden) road to paradise


Location: Spartia, Kefalonia

We began the day with a drive into the “big city” of Argostoli. We had an address and a mission: Athena had to complete an online French competency test before July 15th, and we needed an actual, hardwired computer with a full keyboard to do it (we only brought phones and an iPad). Argostoli has two “Internet cafes,” but one allows smoking and Trip Advisor recommended bringing a gas mask to it, so we aimed for the other. Street signs are scarce here, and when they exist, they are often only in Greek and/or so faded by the sun that they are illegible and/or covered with graffiti. We drove the wrong way down a one way, circled the centre of town twice, and finally asked a young local for help. She kind of helped.

When we finally found the place, it was less cafe than computer store, but it was relatively quiet. There was some fussing about to get around the bilingual keyboard (Greek and English) and to figure out how to get French letters out of it, but then we left Athena for an hour to try to impress Sciences Po.

We strolled the four blocks of marble-tiled pedestrian tourist strip, visited the Greek Orthodox Church in the square, and looked in vain for anything that seemed familiar from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

When Athena emerged, we headed to the harbour to see one of the town’s main attractions: the sea turtles. As predicted, they appeared near the fishing boats, huge and scrappy.

The sun was getting intense. We needed shade and food, but the cafes only seemed to serve ice cream or pale North American style burgers with fries, so it was into the car to crank the AC and hunt down a meal. We finally found it on a hilltop in Lassi.

After only one false turn (and a U turn in a middle-of-nowhere neighbourhood), we managed to re-find the oddly wide, surprisingly well-maintained, strangely empty road that isn’t on the map but that we took home from Fiscardo. We suspect that the locals are trying to keep it a secret from the tourists so that they can get where they need to go without having to pass a dozen cautious rental cars every mile. This time we took it heading north.

We were off to try to find Myrtos Beach, one of those beaches that they use to make photo calendars of Greece, the most famously beautiful beach on Kefalonia. And it did not disappoint. Indescribably light blue water, so clean and crisp that even I (a confirmed hydrophobe) was drawn to go in. And the whole beach is surrounded by white cliffs. The sand too was quite white, but rougher than we expected. The unpredictable ground required footware; it ranged from big round white rocks to soft round pebbles to wee round grains of the same rock. And all of it covered with chalky salt.

When we arrived, a huge yacht was parked in the bay, and before we left, a two-person paraglider landed on the beach.

We rented a couple umbrellas and four loungers, but they were hardly used; the water was too enticing. Even I went in, heavily supervised and literally handheld.

David and Triumph loved it in the “Crush Zone” where the waves broke into whitewash that would knock one down and throw one about rather violently. Or, as in Athena’s case, it might make repeated attempts on one’s bikini top.

Speaking of Athena, she found one of the two women’s WC stalls occupied by a mommy goat and her kid. She then watched the lifeguard shoo the goats into a little pen with the same bored exasperation as the waiters who shoo kittens away.

We heard French, Spanish, and Swedish on the beach. Many families, a lot of couples, a wide range of body types and tan lines, and everyone was having a blast. It was lovely.

Home to change and then dinner in Lord Byron’s old stomping grounds near Metaxata for another dinner full of feta and laughter, finished off with watermelon and baklava.