October 20, 2012

KEFALONIA'S HOLY LAND

St. Gerasimos Church at Omala, Kefalonia
St. Gerasimos Church at Omala Valley, Kefalonia
October 20th is the most significant religious holiday in Kefalonia as the island honors its patron saint. The commemoration festivities for Saint Gerasimos are held over two days during which the Valley of Omala comes alive with the devout, the curious, the last tourists before the season officially shuts down. Some seek a cure or a miracle, while others use the occasion as a family outing to enjoy the festivities.
Most Kefalonians do have a very peculiar relationship with their patron, sometimes in contrast to their everyday religious beliefs. It is a relationship that borders on familiarity and possession!
And, tradition, of course. And, identity.
Besides, it is hard to find a family in Kefalonia without a member named Gerasimos.
St. Gerasimos Convent, Kefalonia
St. Gerasimos Church, Kefalonia
Litany at St. Gerasimos of Omala, Kefalonia
The Litany at Omala Valley, Kefalonia
Litany at St. Gerasimos of Omala, Kefalonia

Litany at St. Gerasimos of Omala, Kefalonia
Litany at St. Gerasimos of Omala, Kefalonia
St.Gerasimos
The Convent grounds at St. Gerasimos, Kefalonia

September 10, 2012

THE MAGIC IN THE RECEIVER

The Magic in the Receiver reviewed on Kefalonia World

Background: A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Paul Dillon, the author of a novel set in Kefalonia. Paul is a FB friend of this blog and wanted to introduce me to his book. Since then, Paul was kind enough to send me a hard copy, which I eagerly set out to read. Well, now I have and feel impelled to share it with you!

As eager as I was to start reading THE MAGIC IN THE RECEIVER, I must confess that it took me over a week. Ever heard of reading a book that you can't put down?
Well, I had to put this one down every few pages, paragraphs even.
Having been away from Kefalonia for about 5 months, it made me so, so painfully HOMESICK!!!
Not only is the book packed with powerful characters and captivating and intermingling story lines, but it bursts at the seams with the colors and aromas of Kefalonia!
However, to do the book and the author justice, I have to reread it, this time a bit removed from all that is so dear to me. And, I will concentrate more on the story.
But you don't have to wait for me to deal with my Kefalonia withdrawal symptoms...
GET IT NOW, READ IT! Just don't try to decipher the title, it's part of the magic!

GET The Magic in the Receiver


(to be continued)


August 22, 2012

WRONG PLACE, RIGHT TIME

Sunset of Southeastern Kefalonia
Sundown in Southeastern Kefalonia
 By comparison, Kefalonia could get away with quite a lot of things that other places could not. Take sunsets for example. In most places you'd have to be facing west in order to enjoy the spectacular colors of the sun calling it a day. You'd have to rush to be at the right place at the right time. In Kefalonia however, all you need to address is the issue of time - the right time. Everything else just seems to fall into place, color, texture and mood.

Poros, Kefalonia
Poros, Kefalonia



Poros, Kefalonia
Poros, Kefalonia

July 10, 2012

BE ON THE LOOKOUT!


Views from the Vardiola at Skala, Kefalonia
Skala, Kefalonia
Views from the Vardiola at Skala, KefaloniaOnce in a while I get a bit arrogant about knowing everything there is to know on the island. I don't mean the usual tourist fare, I mean those it places that make the difference. Fortunately, once in a while I get to eat humble pie -sweet and served up by an old timer, nonetheless. Take the small lookout point over Skala Beach, next to the Roman Villa. I've passed by dozens of times, have seen dozens of tourists posing for pictures, and, I've driven on, not giving it a second thought. Just another miniature square overlooking the sea, right? Let them folks go about doing their business and I'll go on doing mine.
That was my perception of the spot till 2 years ago in mid July. I had the priviledge of being given the grand tour of Skala by one who knows it well. Mr. Panagis Travlos, a native of Skala, had served in the past as an officer of the local community and was all too eager to show me anything and everything I could endure to see before succumbing to the imminent heat stroke. Of course he treated me as a visitor since being a mere Kefalonian -in general - did not qualify me as a local!
"Naturally, you know the Vardiola, where Skala's future was decided," he asked in the most casual way.
Now, I can be as quick on the uptake as the next person - even under grueling temperatures - but this one had me baffled.
"Yes, of course," I stuttered, trying to figure out what he was referring to.
A vardiola is a Venetian term for "observatory" and there are quite a few ruins of vardiolas in Kefalonia, dating back to the Venetian Era. They have a discernible architecture and are usually perched high over the sea so as to serve the purpose of observing the seaways (Pirate vessels, perhaps?). In modern times, locations offering a vantage, protected view of the sea are also referred to as vardiolas - but I didn't know this at the time. So, back in Skala that hot July day, I was trying to envision whether I had seen a construction in the area that fit the bill. He must have seen my perplexed look and went on to explain as we made our way to the spot I had over-passed so many times: Prior to the devastating earthquakes of 1953, the village of Skala was quite a bit further up the hillside, it was not a waterfront settlement. Most of the land around the village, including its present location, were potato fields!! Yes, at the time, this was Skala's most renowned product as the proximity to the sea and the sandy soil makes for the most delicious potato variety. As the earthquake left no stone unturned, the citizens of Skala had to decide how and where to rebuild their village. Some wanted to rebuild in the pre-earthquake location as to be near their fields and stock. Others argued that the village should be moved to the beachfront as this provided ease of access to the water for - among other things - bathing their herds of sheep before the annual sheering!!!. Plus, the threat of a pirate attack was a thing of the past, an advantage not negligible in itself!
According to Mr. Travlos, around that time of the impasse, Skala was visited by the then Minister of Public Works (and later PM and President of the Republic), the late Konstantinos Karamanlis, as head of a commission for the reconstruction of the island.
As he sat to rest at the vardiola's present location and overlooked the span of Skala Beach, he (according to witnesses) said "You see where the sheep are running free now? I predict that in a decade or two, people from all over Europe will come in hundreds to enjoy this beautiful sea. Yes, the future of Skala is on the water, it is decided." And so it was decided, and so it was done.
Views from the Vardiola at Skala, Kefalonia
Overlooking the sea from the Vardiola at Skala, Kefalonia
Next time you're in Skala you may want to stop at the Vardiola and try to imagine potato fields behind you and where the Main Street is today, and, sheep sunbathing ahead of you - sans the beach chairs, umbrellas and sunscreens. Try to visit the old settlement, there are some interesting ruins there, a fountain and some old churches of interest. Although removed from the seafront, the old settlement offers a much better, panoramic view than present day Skala does. And, don't forget to get chummy with a local, he may point you to an establishment that still serves those yummy Skala potatoes. Although the fields have been developed into the modern settlement, there is still a limited production, saved to be consumed by family and close friends.Views from the Vardiola at Skala, Kefalonia

P.S. At the danger of dating myself, I'll share with you my first encounter with Skala. I remember hitching a ride with some of my schoolmates on the back of an open truck that was going to Skala to pick up sacks of potatoes. My first view of the beach was with sheep sleeping on the beach and under the pine trees. We did get scolded upon our return for going without permission to a place so secluded that we could never find our way back home, had we missed the truck's departure! Ah, time flies.....

July 3, 2012

AS THE WHEEL TURNS

Lake Karavomylos, Kefalonia
The water wheel at Lake Karavomylos, Kefalonia

 Lake Karavomylos, KefaloniaIt has been a while and I've certainly missed communicating with all of you. Despite my absence, this blog has been visited by hundreds of people each week that I have been away from the keyboard. As much as I would like to take the credit for this, I know that I cannot. It is Kefalonia itself that evokes the search and discovery. For days now I've been wanting to get back on track with the blog but was seeking an appropriate explanation for my readers. Earlier today, in a message exchange with a new friend of Kefalonia World, the real reason dawned on me: I miss my blue skies, yellow hills, stunning sunsets, turquoise sea, crashing waves and proud seagulls so much, that I've been in denial. However, never one to crumble, I'm adjusting to the idea that while I'm in New York, all of you have a right to go out and enjoy all the above mentioned.

HAVE A BLAST IN KEFALONIA, I'M SURE THAT YOU'LL LOVE HER AS MUCH AS I DO!

And what a better way to get back into "all things Kefalonia" for summer than to showcase some of my favorite places and things. Some, of course, are well known attractions but most will be those special treats I save for myself and indulge my best friends with.....

So, on to
LAKE KARAVOMYLOS (*)


So much has been written and shown about Lake Karavomylos, as no tourist guide worth the paper it's printed on omits this site, that I deem it redundant to elaborate on mundane things like whereabouts, geological significance, natural beauty, etc. Less frequently though, you will see a description of its most appealing characteristic: this place manages to emit absolute peace and serenity even when swarmed by bus loads of tourists. All you need to do is close your eyes, listen to the unrelenting turn of the water wheel, ponder on the journey of a single water drop, and, daydream...
And if something seems to be caressing your feet, don't be alarmed, it's only the sun and the breeze taking turns from behind the huge eucalyptus trees. Unless it's a duck... Neither should cause you to shift the mind's gear... it's part of the magic and you really don't want to break the spell!
(*) post dedicated to some new friends here in the U.S. who are really much more entitled to to call this lake theirs than I am...


April 13, 2012

ALWAYS ON MY MIND

Spring flowers overlooking Myrtos, Kefalonia
Spring flowers overlooking Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia
Hello again!
Yes, I've been away from blogging duty for a bit more than originally expected.
But I've been - and still am - away from the island since the end of March.
As a matter of fact it is the first time in over 10 years that I've been away from Kefalonia on Greek Orthodox Easter.  This being the most breathlessly beautiful time of the year on the island, I do feel a bit deprived and envious.
I've been trying to figure out the best way to keep up with the blog while I'm away, especially as this is the time of year that most of my online friends are planning their holidays and seeking information on where to go and what to see. It never of course crossed my mind to keep on posting as if I were there... I'm sure you'd be able to tell the difference!!!
So, here's the deal....
While I'm away - and I will be away for a while-  I'll post about all those special places that shouldn't be missed, giving you the inside scoop on places and things to do.

HAPPY EASTER to those of you celebrating Orthodox Easter.
Greetings from NEW YORK to all...

March 27, 2012

SPRING BREAK

Springtime, Kefalonia
Busy as a bee and taking a small break from blogging duty to get a bit organized.
Will be back in a few days.
Enjoy the season!

March 19, 2012

NEVER ON SUNDAY!

Argostoli Bay, Kefalonia
Argostoli Bay, Kefalonia
Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
It seems almost obscene to worry or have any type of anxiety or concern on a day like this.
More than just a Sunday, this was the first actual day of Spring. Everything just came together after months of longing: the sun, the sky, the breeze, the sea, the landscape in full blossom, the inevitable coming out to play...
I must admit that I was caught by surprise as I've grown accustomed over the last few months to sharing these favorite places with only a fisherman, a jogger or two and maybe a few cats. The sun kissed day seemed to have enticed so many others to rush to the sea and actually feel, see, touch, hear and smell the celebration of life that is Spring. A picnic basket, a frisbee, a pail to collect pebbles... Yes, the earth axis has finally slipped into its right position. And any problems or worries can certainly be moved back a day, they have no place here.
Never on Sunday, especially when it is like this!

A lazy Sunday at Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
Avythos Beach, Kefalonia

March 10, 2012

SPRINGTIME BLUE

Lourdas Bay, Kefalonia
Lourdas Bay, Kefalonia

Regaining  its rightful place in the field of vision, at last!
The most soothing color in such generous supply.
It will, of course, have to compete with yellow and pink and indigo over the next couple of months. But I have it on good authority that it will outlast them all...
Sissia Monastery, Kefalonia
Sissia Monastery, Kefalonia

March 2, 2012

COLOR MY WORLD

Spring flowers, Kefalonia
Klismata, Kefalonia
Spring flowers, Kefalonia
Color is a very funny thing. Endless lines and pages have been written to describe and analyze the effect of color on everything, from mood to productivity. Each color has a personality of sorts and widely accepted associations in literature, science, aesthetics, the life cycle and cultural perceptions. So many associations, in fact, that they are often contradictory. Take yellow, for example. It is associated with aging, frailty, cowardice but also with activity, excitement and freshness. In nature, however, it only means one thing: R-E-V-I-V-A-L!
Yes, the unmistakable arrival of Spring is reconfirmed by the sudden presence of yellow in strips, patches, swirls and bunches. Their density and variety will, of course, improve over the next few weeks but the first impression is just unsurpassed. (It even makes me forget about that patch of the "vile white stuff" still visible in the background).

Spring flowers, Kefalonia
Olive grove @Svoronata, Kefalonia
Spring flowers, Kefalonia
Early Spring flowers, Kefalonia





February 25, 2012

UNMISTAKABLE ARRIVAL

Arrival of Spring in Kefalonia
Snow defying Spring colors in late February, Kefalonia
Arrival of Spring in KefaloniaPatience is definitely a virtue, and certainly rewarded!

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here


A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.


It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.


"A Light Exists in Spring"
 Emily Dickinson






                                                                            Photo: St. Irene's Chapel at Xenopoulo, Kefalonia



February 17, 2012

REELING THEM IN AGAINST THE TIDE

Winter fishing at Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
Against the tide, against all odds!
It's been a rough week for this island because it has been an extremely rough week for this country.
I've captured many colors, shapes and textures this past week, aided by the moody weather, wind and clouds. But none as symbolic as the scenes of the lone fisherman matching wits with the fish swimming against the tide. Don't ask which is which in the symbolism. Suffice it to say that despite the outcome, both will have had their moment of triumph under the caressing sun rays, which serve to deceitfully compensate for the rough seas and turbulent times. It's a game of patience, perseverence and the will to survive. Time will tell. It may even turn out that the tide is cathartic for both man and fish.

Avythos Beach, kefalonia
Avythos Beach, Kefalonia

Lourdas Beach, Kefalonia
Lourdas Beach, Kefalonia

February 8, 2012

THE COUNTDOWN MUST GO ON

When I set my countdown to Spring into motion a few days ago, I had no idea that Mother Nature would be so offended by my impetuous action. Her reaction was disproportionately violent compared to my humble wish for the arrival of her prettiest season: howling winds, torrential rain, turbulent seas, sweeping waves, freezing temperatures, and billions of snow flurries piling on each other, for no apparent reason other than to annoy me and so many others.

Winter at Agios Thomas, Kefalonia
Agios Thomas, Kefalonia with snow capped Mt. Aenos in the background

But for all her wickedness, the countdown continues. As long as the snow is framed against pink almond tree blossoms, Spring is just around the corner. It may be delayed a bit but all this rain and melting snows will help her make her debut with extravagant flora and colors.



Snow on Mt. Aenos,Kefalonia
Snow on Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia

February 3, 2012

SWEEPING WHITE

Crashing waves at Pessada Kefalonia
A sea swell exploding on breakwaters at Pessada, Kefalonia

It's a lady's absolute prerogative to be unpredictable, and the sea is definitely a lady. Of course she is flattered by flamboyant descriptions as to her virtues and even tolerates wish-washy praises about her character. Being absolutely calm and dressed in stunning shades of blue is her natural state. But just when you think you've got her all figured out, she'll remind you that she can be capricious, moody, vain, and fierce. She'll rise and darken and send out her signals in waves. At times though, her vices are overwhelmingly deceitful. Like when she seems calm on the surface but swells and crashes with a sweeping roar, being just as beautiful in unleashing her fury. That is the time to stand back in humble admiration - give her time, it will pass.

February 1, 2012

IN DENIAL

Early Spring in Kefalonia
Almond tree blossoms,  Kefalonia
Ignoring the howling wind, the snow blizzard, and the subfreezing temperatures outside, I reaffirm my commitment to the Spring Countdown. So, instead of pictures of snow flurries and trees bent in the wind, here are some sweet almond tree blossoms - framed against blue, late February skies. After all, its only a matter of time....

January 31, 2012

COUNTDOWN TO BLISS

Agia Efimia, Kefalonia
Agia Efimia, Kefalonia
Scrolling through the last dozen or so posts, it dawned on me that I've let myself be carried away by winter's devious charm. Way too many photos of snow and white horse seas - for my disposition, that is.
It's almost as if my least favorite season embarked on a campaign to turn me into a fan. Almost worked too! Almost.....
On this last day of January, of freezing temperatures under perfectly blue skies, I'm calling its bluff by beginning the countdown to the Queen of Seasons: SPRING!
And since I've found myself humming tunes lately...

"Just remember in the Winter,
Far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed that with the sun's love,
In the Spring
Becomes the Rose"


("The Rose", Bette Midler)



January 27, 2012

IN THE COMPANY OF PERFECT STRANGERS

Makris Gialos Beach, Kefalonia in October)/></a></td></tr>
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Makris Gialos Beach, Kefalonia (in late October)
There's an unspoken understanding and a silent solidarity between people who frequent some of my favorite places on the island. For the most part, communication is carried out by glances, smiles, nods and gestures. Faces become familiar after a while and there's an inherent understanding and respect for that space that each of us is alloted for fulfilling the purpose of his visit.
A fisherman, a lady walking her dog, a couple waiting for the sunset, a jogger, an amateur photographer... each with their own agenda. Once in a while, after some familiarity is established, the nods and gestures are accompanied by a few very substantial words and suggestions: "...over those rocks you'll get a better view of the seagulls" - "if you really want to capture some big waves, you should come in the morning" or the inevitable question: "....do you ever publish these photos, is anyone interested in seeing winter images?" I have learned so much from my "comrades in solitude." A fisherman gave me a condensed course in understanding weather so I can always choose the right place and time for perfect clouds and colorful seas. An English couple tipped me off as to the purple skies that I would have missed at Ammes Beach had I left right after sundown. A jogger at Makris Gialos made a slight detour to leave some footprints so that my photo (above) would be less bland. Without a word, just a bow and a smile before he returned to his original path.
Thinking about this the other day, I found myself humming some lyrics from an old tune. One I haven't even heard for years but so appropriate for the situation because it really describes what all us strangers do in smiling, nodding and gesturing to each other in places of solitude... Yes,indeed,
We fill out the missing colors 
In each other's paint-by-number dreams...*
(from Jackson Browne's "The Pretender", paraphrased a bit)

SEAGOING FELINES

Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
Avythos Beach, Kefalonia

Avythos Beach: more than place, it's a state of being. Strangely enough, it is not my favorite beach for swimming although it is absolutely gorgeous in the summer. Probably because the swimmer in me seems to have bonded over the years with the pebbles in Skala. Other than that, Avythos is my favorite year round escape because it is so dependable. Now that is a strange word to use in describing a place that is different every time, but let me explain.
It is dependable in that it will never disappoint you. Be it with crashing or gentle waves, in sunshine or storm, flawless sand or the occasional pebbles, with a spotless ceiling or overcast skies. And, of course, on days when the northwestern wind rules, Avythos becomes a huge canvas for the "god among winds" to have a field day painting it in all shades of blue. In tiers and strips, in blotches and swirls. 
Dias Islet offshore serves like a pivot point around which colors and shapes are formed.
But the most dependable and adorable given on Avythos are the cats that actually live there year round. They are well fed by beach regulars and very extroverted. They'll nudge and cajole their way to turning you into a regular meal provider, in the most imaginative ways. I know, because I've become a subscriber to their charm!
Would they pose otherwise?The cats of Avythos Beach, Kefalonia


The cats of Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
The cats of Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
The cats of Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
The cats of Avythos Beach, Kefalonia


January 25, 2012

BRIDGING THE DISTANCE

Seagull watching, Kefalonia
The mainland as seen from southeastern Kefalonia
When skies take on pale, powder blue and gray shades, they do so with a purpose. Only then do the outlines of the mainland take on definite shape and form. Hazy blobs in the horizon pop out for what they really are: snow covered mountains, rugged islets, and rock formations acting as "pit stops" for seagulls. Some are closer than others but there is no use in trying to map out "what is what" and attach names to them, though each one does have a unique name.
seagulls, KefaloniaOn a clear skies, true blue day you probably could because - strangely enough - there is less to see. Then, only the largest and well recognized islands and islets are visible. It's only on less vivid, subtle and muted days that the more obscure formations come into focus, blotting out the big picture and forcing you to concentrate on details. Like the flight path of seagulls that bridges the distance between here and there. Or, the relevance of distance itself when it comes to drifting over the sea.
Seagull watching, Kefalonia
A pit stop for seagulls along the southeastern coast of Kefalonia

January 23, 2012

OUR HONORED GUEST, Mr. ROY G. BIV!

Rainbow over Kefalonia
Rainbow over Kokkylia, Kefalonia
Few natural phenomena are so universally admired as rainbows. Those unbelievable arches of color tinted light, filling up the sky after a rainfall, are the material legends and fairy tales are made of. Hope, optimism, good tidings, and luck are just some of the words frequently attached to any description of rainbows.
Of course, the conditions prerequisite for the formation of rainbows are better left to be explained by those more scientifically inclined than yours truly. (Something to do with the interaction of light, raindrops and sun rays, but physics was never my strong suit).
There are seven spectacular colors, distinctly visible to the human eye, and they appear in a specific order (reversed on the top rainbow, if there are two).
Remembering the order of the colors is easy thanks to an ingenious mnemonic device. All you have to do is remember the name of a most respectable gentleman: Roy G. Biv. (RedOrangeYellow Green BlueIndigoViolet). Rumor has it that his permanent residence is ...over the rainbow and, though he is of undeclared profession, I'd say that he is eternally committed to carrying that pot of gold from one side of his residence to the other with such speed as to confuse the seekers - and thus perpetuate the search!

Rainbow over Kefalonia

Rainbow over Kefalonia

Rainbow over St. George's Fortress, Kefalonia
Rainbow over St. George's Fortress, Kefalonia