Kefalonia

Kefalonia

I love to travel and when I started planning my holiday to Greece I was intrigued by the myths and traditions that surround the greek island of Kefalonia. The Ionian Islands are gorgeous and with Kefalonia being the largest in the group, I couldn’t wait to explore the ruins, castles and beautiful beaches.

My favourite myth, which has now turned into a tradition, involves snakes. Apparently snakes started appearing at the Church of the Virgin in Markopoulo back in 1705 when the monastery was taken over by pirates. The nuns prayed to the Virgin day and night asking that the pirates be turned into snakes. When the pirates eventually left the monastery the nuns knew that their prayers had been answered. Every year since that time the snakes appear on August 14th and 15th. Of course, sceptics claim that the locals pick up the snakes and put them in the church to protect them from traffic on the road, while others say that the church is part of the migratory snake route. Whatever the reason hundreds of people make their way to the annual festival bringing snakes into the church near the Panagia Fidoussa. I plan on going back to Greece in August to witness this sacred event, but I will make sure that I arrive early so I can get a seat in the church. Whilst I’m in the area I also plan on staying in a bed and breakfast so I can take the wine tour in Markopoulo – legend has it that Dionysos showed the Attica residents how to grow and cultivate the grapes.

If the island of Kefalonia could talk I am sure there would be stories to tell. Greek philosopher Aristotle was intrigued by the sheep and goats with the golden teeth that can be seen in Agia Dynati in Pylaros. The cliff sides are loaded with animals that gleam their golden choppers. Locals believe that they were blessed from the ancient Greek Gods, but researchers say that they get their golden teeth from minerals in the soil. The goats are also famous for being able to go without water for as long as six months.

While I am in Kefalonia I want to visit Mt. Ainos. I have found quite a few hotels and resorts that are only a couple of kilometres away. I plan on taking a jeep safari so I can catch a glimpse of the infamous wild horses that graze around the monastery of Zoodochos Pighi. Legend has it that these unique herds are the descendants of Alexander the Greats horses.

The Feast of the Ascension of Christ is another reason to travel to Kefalonia in May or June. Apparently the local women pick lilies and take them to the church. Everyone knows that once the delicate flowers are picked they will not bud, but the flowers that are placed in the church always do and will be in full bloom on August 15th for the celebration of the Dormition Feast. Believers claim that this is a sign of the presence of the Virgin Mary. I’m going to stay in Pastra or Demoutsanata so I can witness this religious curiosity first-hand.

My trip itinerary is filling up fast, but I’ve already booked a couple of nights in Argostoli. I plan on spending a day or two working on my tan because the beaches are gorgeous, but I also want to witness the phenomenon of Katavothres. Apparently you can watch sea water pour into the cracks in the rocks just near the shoreline before they disappear. While I’m there I plan on seeing the famous Drogarati Caves which are full of huge stalagmite and stalactites. Legend has it that the 150 million year old caverns were once home to a fire breathing dragon. Everyone who has been to the area tells me I must take a tour of the underground lake and the Cave of Melissani. The 15 minute boat ride takes visitors through a spectacular tunnel that transports you into a subterranean lake and cavern that is supposed to be breathtaking.

If I have time I want to stay in a self-catered apartment in Paliki. Up until the massive earthquake that destroyed most of the island in 1953, the rock known as Kounopetra would continually sway back and forth. Although it has been stabilised since the quake, it is still a wonder to behold.

[box color=”white” icon=”accept”]I am so excited about my trip to Kefalonia and with all of the money I am saving on discounted flights and hotels I may decide to stay another week.[/box]