So I have just returned from a beautiful holiday to the island of Zakynthos in Greece. It was perfect.As I lay here typing it seems impossible that just this morning I was waking to the sound of roosters and the sun beaming brightly through the window. Floors too hot to stand on barefooted and seas which were gleaming blue. Now, back in England, I dare not stand on the floor barefooted for fear of glass and although the sun may occasionally pop out, it seems the skies are more filled with clouds and rain. Typical English weather.
WEEK ONE- THE NORTH
Mikro Nisi was the first stop, near the scenic St Nicholas Port. We stayed in Climati Studios, owned by John and his wife. http://www.zanteweb.gr/zakynthos.zante/en/climati (100 Euros for the week).
It was a tidy room, nicely kept with a beautiful view. John himself was very helpful and managed to get us a hire car for 25euros a day: surprisingly cheap. He also drove us to the second destination for 20euros. A taxi was double the price! The home made wine, olive oil and complementary fruit and water was a perfect start. A short fifteen minute walk led to a supermarket and various restaurants. I would recommend Niko's.
There were two beaches. Both stoney. But both wonderful all the same. Just outside of Climati and left was a small path which lead down to a small beach. It was almost private, par for the few Greeks who came for their daily swim! It was like something out of a movie.
|Our 'private' beach|
Without a doubt it is essential you get a car, unless planning to spend the entire holiday on one beach. With 30 euros of petrol we managed to see the whole West coast and North of the Island. There are places you stumble across which just take your breath away.
St Nicholas Port was the ideal spot to get a boat to shipwreck and the blue caves: a must for any sight-seer. We paid 15 euros each and fully enjoyed ourselves.
WEEK TWO: THE SOUTH.
This week we stayed in Sofia Hotel in Kalamaki. http://www.sofias.gr/
Unlike Climati it didn't come with any free gifts yet the room was cleaned regularly and was slightly cheaper. There was a pool and sunloungers and even a slow moving dog (Lola). The whole place was clean and the company was nice. However, it was very different to Climati. It had many rooms, rather than a limited eight and near the end of the week we were joined by 'youths' clearly on an end of exam holiday. Rather unpleasantly we were woken in the middle of the night by one singing out loud. Nevertheless, this is not the fault of the hotel. Although we did not eat in the bar we did purchase our food in Sofia's market, just next to the hotel. The prices were reasonable and the shop assistants were friendly. The only downside about the hotel was the extra charges for air conditioning and a safe, both of which, we chose to live without.. it is without saying that the nights would have been a bit more comfortable with the help of air conditioning.
Nearby was Kalamaki beach. A sandy haven where turtles lay their eggs. The beach was nice. Again, I would recommend hiring a car. We got one from rent a cars on the street which the hotel sits on. For three days we paid 68 euros. I would then recommend driving to Keri for the views and the peninsula, especially Gerakes beach. The endangered turtles means the beaches in the South are protected and therefore, very little spoils them.
The main street on which Sofia's is situated contains numerous tourist shops and restaurants. In the evening's each restaurant entices those walking down the street with offers. One night we got free cheesy garlic bread starters and two large cocktails free. Meal prices are all roughly the same. You are looking at 6-9 euros a meal unless delving for the more lavish of ingredients. The restaurant which we rate highest was Heaven's kitchen. It does not draw you in with freebies, but does not need to. With large portions and reasonable prices, I place it as a winner on the restaurant front. Although Poseidon, just left of Sofia, was closely following behind.
Obviously different holidays suit different people. We find that travelling around the island and seeing the sites was the best use of time. However, I would recommend the North for peace and quiet. Little beaches and scenes of a fairytale. Kalamaki for shops and restaurants but not the rush of a tourist filled area. And without a doubt, Laganas is the place for clubbing (including a KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut). We drove through Laganas, although, the hustle and bustle was not for us.
MY TOP ATTRACTIONS
Water village: http://www.zantewatervillage.gr/
If attending after 2pm the price of entry is reduced to 14euros and it is well worth it if you enjoy water slides. The boomer and bowl are good for thrill seekers and the free fall is not for the faint hearted. But there really is something for everyone. Fast high slides. Slow low slides. A lazy river. Children's play area and a water jungle. It was a last minute decision for us to go here, but I wouldn't look back on the afternoon filled with adventure.
Askos Stone Park: http://www.askos.gr/
I was unsure what to expect from attending a stone park which contained only little animals. As a city girl I have come to think of zoos containing elephants and lions, not deer and peacocks. But once again, it was well worth the visit. We often got to fed the animals, including deer, horses and raccoon, as well as hold a tortoise. It was a friendly zoo with many animals to look at.
In the South there are numerous boat trips offering turtle spotting to see the Caretta Caretta. These turtles make their way from Africa each year to lay their eggs on the beaches of Zante before returning to Africa in September.
A coach picks you up from a nearby location and take you to the boats departure port. We paid 15 euros each for a four hour excursion. This included swimming on the turtle island and Keri caves, as well as sighting the giant turtles! This is not one to be missed.
Shipwreck Beach and Blue Caves
Very similar to the above except the excursions run to the beach where you can view the famous shipwreck, and to the blue caves in which you may swim.