Day 4 Trip to Skala

Back on the Road Again!

Back on the road again and this time we decided to go down to Skala. We drove through Lourdata as we needed fuel for the Quad Bike. We had many questions, what fuel, we knew it was Unleaded, but would there be a choice? How much would it be? And do we serve ourselves? Well we didn’t need to worry about that as the nice man spoke good english as did most of the people we met. He served us the fuel and joked, he looked in the fuel tank and said I bet it will take €15 Euros. Was he right? Well €14.81Our Fantastic Quad Bike

There is one major road from Argostoli to Skala, which was quite busy, not only cars, but Lorries and Buses, but it was an easy route. All I had to remember was keep my right hand near the kerb, as an Englishman I was driving / Riding on the wrong side of the road!

We got to Valerianos and there was a choice in the road, straight on or turn right towards the coast. We went right, through some small villages that were so beautiful. We got to Thiramonas and saw the signs to a winery, we had missed the chance yesterday to visit one so off we went following the signs to Melissinos Winery.  We drove through the village and turned up an un-made road and found a carpark. There were three people there, who told us the Winery was closed. We must have looked so disappointed that after a quick conversation in Greek, there decided take us for a quick tour.

Melissinos Winery

I believe the man was referred to as Nikos told us about their wines. He told us they make small quantities of high quality wine, one of the Red wines was so dark he told us, it was called Mavro. Oh Black! said Cheryl; how do you know the greek word for black. She told him that I speak a little greek and we have named our Black Cat Mavro because he is very black.

He took us through a gate to an old house. He told us the family had been producing wines here for many years. He showed us around the outside of the house and told us how they collect the grapes.

The old olive press at Melissinos Winery
The old olive press at Melissinos Winery

He told us the reason the Winery was closed was because the family had gone to London to exhibit their wines.

The well at Melissinos Winery
The well at Melissinos Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old barrels used in the past for wine production at Melissinos Winery
Old barrels used in the past for wine production at Melissinos Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old barrels used in the past for wine production at Melissinos Winery
Old barrels used in the past for wine production at Melissinos Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melissinos Winery
Melissinos Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He then went into the building and came back with a bottle of MAVRO wine and presented it to us. We were over joyed, we think it was because of our comment about our cat being called Mavro.

Orange Trees and Lemon Trees in the grounds of Melissinos Winery
Orange Trees and Lemon Trees in the grounds of Melissinos Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheryl commented about the Orange Trees and the Lemon Trees that were just full of fruit, He said pick what you want. I must say I cannot remember ever eating an orange that was so sweet. We sliced the Lemon and put it into our water bottle the next day.

A view of some of the vines at Melissinos Winery
A view of some of the vines at Melissinos Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melissinos Winery

 

 

 

And then it came time for our Good Byes, such lovely friendly people, Thank you so much.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Melissinos Winery
Thiramona, 28086
THIRAMONA, KEFALONIA

Ionian

T: 26710 29716
F: 26710 29716

melissinoswinery@yahoo.gr
www.melissinoswinery.gr 
 
And now an update: We are now back in the UK, so here’s a picture of our Mavro with his bottle of Marko.
 
Marko the Cat
 
Mavro Wine from Melissinos Winery
Mavro Wine from Melissinos Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mavro Wine from Melissinos Winery
Mavro Wine from Melissinos Winery
 

Day Two Kefelonia Sea Kayak Trip

Paul had looked on the internet before we left home and had made contact with Yvonne at Seakayaking Kefelonia

www.seakayakingkefalonia.com

We booked the trip for ‘Argostoli Lighthouse to the airport’, once we had arrived on the Island.

It was a quick walk down the hill to where the Kayaks are based.  We arrived at 8.45am and were met with a warm welcome from Tom.   The other instructors were making the finishing touches to the kayaks which were already loaded on the trailer.  Introductions to the other Staff and we were invited to jump in the car and we were on our way.  Approximately half an hour later and we were at the start of our journey at Argostoli Lighthouse.

Meeting our fellow paddlers
Meeting our fellow paddlers

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We were given full instructions on paddling, what to wear (with plenty of spare tee shirts and hats for those that needed it) and how to fit our belongings into the hatch in the boat.

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Preparing the boats on a small beach next to the lighthouse.

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We are off
We are off

It was only a short paddle till our first cave.  We went into the cave two boats at a time. It was quite dark inside and you could hear the waves crashing further in, in another cavern.

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Instructors check out the cave
Instructors check out the cave

Round a very small headland and we went into another cave.

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The third cave was amazing.  Large enough for all our boats to fit in and looking up we could see the sky.  The entry was quite low and we went in one at a time with the current so as not to hit our heads.

 

Day one Kefelonia. A Long Walk

 

 

It is approximately 2 miles to the village along a little road with no footpaths.  There are a few houses, some lived in, some very obviously empty and some never finished being built.

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We past the Headquarters of Seakayaking Kefalonia

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The scenery was beautiful. Views to the mountains on our left and the sea on our right.

We stopped at the local bakery for a coffee.  They have a couple of chairs outside so we sat a while and watched the world go by.  The builders were busy laying a patio next door. (By the end of the week it had opened as a restaurant !!)

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We decided to walk on and head for the beach.  This was another 2 miles all downhill, but sheer hills in places.  We passed through a pretty little village and eventually made it to the beach.

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There is a concrete ‘promanade’ with some little wine bars along.  We saw a sign for a Fish Restuarant so headed for that.  We had to go up a dirt track and through some gates which looked like we were entering someone’s garden.

Lithero Restuarant and Studios had plenty of seating and we chose to sit in the sun overlooking the small harbour and the neighbouring beaches.  The harbour is man made and only takes a couple of small motor boats or fishing boats.

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We ate sardines and Greek salad. It was all lovely.

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The Restuarant owner could speak some English and told us that we could walk back along the beach to Trapezaki in about 25 minutes.

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We set off but soon found it wasn’t one long beach, and many times we had rocky outlets to clamber over.  We also discovered that this is a very popular area for nudist and in every little cove we found more.

 

One and half hours later!!!!!! We made it to Trapezaki Beach.  This is a very tiny bay with what could be a small beach but at the moment it is piled high with dried sea weed.  There is only one bar/Restuarant right down on the beach called Denis Bar.  Again it is fairly new.  Looks like it might be two brothers working there and they are still busy landscaping the rocky garden around them.  It would be rude to walk straight past so we popped in for a ‘quick one’ before taking on the last leg of the journey.

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Then a quick beer at Denis’s Bar on Trapezaki Beach

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From the beach up is another 2 miles and every inch of it is uphill – steep hills!!!    Eventually we made it back to base with legs that didn’t want to walk another inch.

We went out to eat later and went to Veramente Resturant.  The Resturant was full so we said we would wait.

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FXP26294We sat at the bar with a glass of wine and the Restuarant owner chatted to us every time he had a minute.

FXP26288He has a large painting of his parents and grandparents on the wall and is proud to claim that his cooking has been influenced by his Grandmother.

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Once in the Restuarant the views are stunning and as night fell you could see the lights across the bay and the little cruise ship out in the bay.  We ate Souvlaki, a traditional Greek stew. We were given a complimentary desert of Greek yogurt and fruit as a thank you for waiting for a table.

 

Credits:

Photography by Imagesbeyondwords

Denis Resturant and Bar Trapezaki

Veramente Grill House Trapezaki

Seakayaking in Kefalonia

Kefelonia. A small Greek Island one of the largest Ionian Islands in western Greece

We were planning to go to Scotland !!!!! For three months we planned the trip, taking in some of the islands and definitely going as high as John O’Groats. Suddenly the weather forecast turned and snow was forecast. Not our plans for our Summer holiday.

 

Over night Paul found a last minute deal to Kefelonia with Jet2.

 

We snapped it up. Self catering at Star Studio @ Trapezaki.

 

We left home on Wednesday 15th to drive to East Midlands Airport.

We had prebooked the car park in the long stay parking. On arrival it was registration recognition and we soon found a parking space. Only a 10 minute wait for the bus that dropped us off at ‘Departures’

The welcome at Jet2 booking in area was very friendly and smiley. Thankfully our cases were under the 22kg limit. We were given our boarding passes with out seat allocation which we had pre booked.

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A very smooth ride and three and half hours later we were descending into Anna Pollatau airport, Kefelonia.

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The Jet2 transfer to the accommodation was very smooth with helpful Staff along the way. Less than an hour and we arrived at our accommodation Star Studio.

The owner and her son were waiting for the bus and greeted us very pleasantly and led us to our apartment.

We were apartment number 1 on the ground floor. The apartment is very basic but very clean and well equipped.

Apartments and garden at Star Studios
Apartments and garden at Star Studios

We had twin beds, a kitchen table and two chairs, kitchen area with sink, fridge and all the cutlery, crockery and pans that you would need.  The bathroom has a shower.  Outside was a small patio area with table and chairs and a view over the pool  and beyond to the sea.

Day 78 Kandy town

Sri Lanka Bus

January 20th

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Earl Regency Hotel, Kandy

We walked down the drive to take a photo of the river that runs through the valley. It is the biggest river in Sri Lanka called Mahaweli River. There is a drought at the moment in Sri Lanka. The monsoons they should have had in October never arrived and now there is a water shortage. The river is certainly very empty but still the locals put it to good use. There were ladies doing their washing, stood in the water knee deep and using the large rocks to scrub their clothes on. The clothes were then laid out on the rock to dry. We saw one lady that was taking a wash,  in between washing her clothes. She used the same soap as she used on her clothes and the bottom of her skirt to give her face and neck a good scrub. She then used another part of her skirt to dry herself with. Then it was back to finishing the washing!!!

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We picked up a Tuktuk and went into town. The road into Kandy is always very busy and vehicles are bumper to bumper all the way but still the Tuktuk drivers want to get up front. This mornings driver kept going on the inside of other vehicles and very near to the deep ditch that runs alongside the road.

Tuktuk in Kandy
Tuktuk in Kandy

We were safely delivered to the railway station where we asked several questions as to how to get back toNegombo. Unfortunately we did not have the most helpful of information clerks working today. We decided to go straight back to Columbo and then we have the choice of another train up to Negombo or hope there is a car that can take us (us and big rucksacks do not fit into Sri Lanka Tuktuk like they did in other countries). Our alternative was to get off the train a couple of stations before Columbo and hope for some transport to be there, but having seen on a previous journey some of the stations are so in the middle of nowhere they do not even have a Tuktuk waiting.

Ticket to Columbo purchased at 600r each for tomorrow at 12.50pm.

As we left the station we saw the market so took a walk through there. It was mostly fruit and veg with some fish stalls. It was down very narrow lanes and hot and humid.

The market, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
The market, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
The market, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
The market, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan Lorry
Sri Lankan Lorry
Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Kandy, Sri Lanka.

By now the rain had started so we headed for a coffee shop. Being like other towns in Sri Lanka, coffee shops are very difficult to find. We found the Royal Hotel and were shown upstairs to a balcony overlooking the street. Now the rain was pouring down. The Royal hotel was a very interesting building set around a courtyard with trees and plants. There was a bar in this area and upstairs the balcony ran around the top of the courtyard serving food.

Royal Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Royal Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka
From Royal Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka
From Royal Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Once we had finished our tea the waitress took us to see the museum room which has some very old photos of Kandy. It was so interesting to see the street outside the hotel before any of the shops were there and the street was just a dirt track. There were ladies from the Victorian era in all their refinery seen arriving by rickshaw. The waitress was very proud of her history and happy to talk us through the photos. It is worth a cup of tea just to go and see this beautiful hotel and all its memorabilia.

The rain was easing off and we went in search of a shop selling t shirts. A man came up to us and asked what we were looking for, did we want tea or spices? Having told him we didn’t want anything he continued to follow us. I hoped that by going into the shop he would disappear but no he came in with us. He started taking things down from the display and asking if we wanted this or that. The sales assistant behind the counter got out some t shirts and before I could look at them the man picked them up asking if they were the right size. I caught the eye of the shop assistant and asked if the man worked here. No he didn’t but he continued to try and serve us. Once we had chosen the t shirt he grabbed it and went to the other end of the shop demanding a bag to put it in. He did the same when Paul got the money out to pay, he snatched it and took it to a sales assistant asking for the change. Once we were outside the shop he asked for some money for a cup of tea. He asked several times before taking our word of no to mean no and disappeared off down the street.

It was home time from school and the children were walking in their groups past the lake and into town. Some to catch the bus and others to walk on through the town. They always look so smart. Every school in Sri Lanka has white as its uniform. The girls have white dresses and wear white socks with white plimsoles. The boys wear white trousers and white shirt with black shoes. We have seen one variation on this when we saw some younger boys wearing blue shorts with their white shirts.

A local bus, Kandy, Sri Lanka
A local bus, Kandy, Sri Lanka

We watched as a group of school children tried to get on the local bus. Even when the bus is full they still pile in. Only when the driver starts to move off do they except they are not going to get on and the bus leaves with people hanging out the front and rear door.

We learned it was cheaper to walk the short distance along the lake and catch a bus from there rather than get one from the town and sit in traffic for half hour and pay more. Today there were no Tuktuks waiting at the end of the lake so we waited for one to come up the road. The first empty one to come along saw us and pulled in. I asked the price to the hotel and he quoted 300r. That was a very good price as we had paid 400 and 500 in the past couple of days. I didn’t bother to barter and in we got.

Transport in Kandy, Sri Lanka
Transport in Kandy, Sri Lanka

As we arrived at the hotel he asked if we wanted dropping at the gate. No thank you it’s a long steep climb up to the hotel so take us to the door please. He obviously had never been to the hotel before and started saying what a lovely place it was and it must be expensive to stay there. As we got out and Paul gave him the agreed 300r he asked for more. He said he told me 400. I said no he didn’t and he said well he had meant to. Explaining it was his fault if he told us the wrong price we walked away. That was the first time a Tuktuk had tried that on us. So far they have all been very honest and kept to the price agreed before we left. Lucky for him, he picked up a fare leaving the hotel. I hope he didn’t rip them off too much.

The rest of the afternoon we spent in the bar keeping up to date with the outside world. The temperature had dropped to 24degree and it continued to pour with rain.

Day 77 Royal Botanical Gardens

January 19th.

We have heard a lot about the Royal Botanical Garden so were excited to be going.

A tuktuk ride took us to the gate where yet again the Foreigners have a different price to the locals. We paid 3,000r. for the two of us to go in. We were given a leaflet with a map and details of things to be seen within acres of grounds.

It was the Orchid house that i most wanted to see so we headed straight for that. A relatively small building for the number of orchids that it housed.

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I have never seen so many different orchids and no two the same. The colours were so rich and the shapes varied from double flowers, to long spider looking things and my favourite one had what looked like a little elf sitting in the middle of it.

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We wandered through the park looking at the flower beds, trees and the vastness of the grounds.

While we had a cup of iced tea (they did not serve hot tea because it was lunch time??) we saw a troop of monkeys playing under the old fig tree.

As we wondered round the grounds some more we came across a large troop of monkeys making a right mess. They were emptying the waste bin in search of food. There was paper and plastic bags all over the floor and monkeys trying to eat whatever might be left in them. Several of the larger monkeys had the sense to get their arms in the waste bin and pull things out when along came what might have been the largest male and he was very intelligent. He knew how to open the lid of the bin and have a good rummage around inside.

Monkeys at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy

Toque Macague Monkey (Macaca sinica ). at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy

Monkeys at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy

There was a drinking fountain nearby and the monkeys would wander over and help themselves to some water. I was worried when a very young monkey went across but a huge jump and he managed to make it to the top and also drink some water. We could have stayed for hours watching them, they were so entertaining.

The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
The River. The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
The River. The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy

We walked down the avenue of palms and round towards the bamboo area. Here we discovered several trees with fruit bats hanging in them.

Fruit Bats The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Fruit Bats The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Fruit Bats The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Fruit Bats The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy

On reading a notice board I learned that as they hang upside down they are flapping their wings to keep themselves cool. Apparently thy leave the trees at sunset to go in search of food. They can fly up to 15 km in a night but always return to the same tree.

Monkeys The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy
Monkeys The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy

And then more monkeys! We stood and watched this family of monkeys far ages as they jumped in and out of trees. But this time mostly in the low branches. They were used to humans and just carried on playing or grooming. Every so often I could get the camera up close.

As we headed back to the exit we passed the pond and herb garden and a very interesting arrangement showing different types of grass. Some of which we would not call grass but more like weeds but obviously in some countries it’s the best grass that can be grown.

A Tuktuk from outside the gates returned us to the hotel in time for a pre dinner beer.