We had a full day to explore the island of Kefalonia. Apparently, due to adverse weather conditions, the previous week’s cruise had been unable to dock here, so we counted our blessings that things went off without a hitch for us today! Our plan was to rent a car and drive around the island. There was a super helpful tourist information booth inside the port and the staff provided us with a handy map of the island and pointed us in the right direction for car rentals. The first rental agency we stopped at was helping another customer at a glacial speed, so we headed further into Argostoli and stumbled upon Neptune car rental where we quickly secured a compact car for 40 Euros. And then we were off!
Driving out of Argostoli was straightforward, but trying to figure out the most direct route to our first destination of Myrtos Beach was a bit complicated as road signage was quite poor. Our original plan was to drive along the coast but somehow we ended up heading inland towards Sami. Neptune staff had warned us that the Myrtos – Assos road was closed, so we figured the detour wasn’t such a big deal and decided to go with the flow. From Sami, we backtracked our way to Myrtos Beach, which was well worth the effort. The scene for the mine explosion in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Myrtos did not disappoint. With a dazzling mile and a half white sand beach bordered by turquoise water, the beach is stunning. No wonder its won “best Greek beach” award over a dozen times!
From Myrtos, we had to take the scenic route to get to Assos since taking the direct route is impossible due to a road closure (apparently its been that way for some time). It was slow going, especially since the diversion included a lengthy circuitous route. But eventually we got to Assos, which we were eager to see because it has the reputation of being the prettiest spot on the island. An old castle across the islet was beckoning us to explore, so we parked the car and hiked up the zigzag path. The view from the castle ruins was absolutely stunning! Definitely a highlight of Kefalonia.
We couldn’t linger too long because we still wanted to see Melissani Lake while the sun was still bright. So we scrambled back down the hill, hopped into the car and tried to figure out the quickest route from Assos to Melissani. It took well over an hour before we finally pulled into the parking lot for Melissani Lake. The tour buses were gone, but the sun was too! We briefly debated whether it would still be worth shelling 7 Euros per person for the 10 minute boat ride, as we had been really eager to see the glowing turquoise water inside the cavern. However, with the sun about to set, we knew that capturing that amazing aqua color was all but impossible. In the end, we decided to go for it. Despite the late hour, there were still plenty of tourists in line ahead of us, but we didn’t have to wait too long before a boat picked us up. The bonus was that at the end of our ride, our rower offered to take us on a second trip for free. We happily accepted and ensured that he got a nice tip at the end. Even though the gorgeous blue hue of the water was long gone, the boat ride in the cavern was still beautiful and we emerged impressed.
The last stop of the day was a visit to the Monastery of Agios Gerasimos. We had read that the church’s interior wall and ceiling frescoes were not to be missed, so we made the special effort to get out to see it. The larger monastery (newer building) was locked for the day, so we drove a bit further down to see the older original church. The frescoes there were a consolation prize, as we heard the monastery’s frescoes are truly a sight to behold. In any case, Agios Gerasimos rounded up the end of our busy day, and we had to find a gas station to fill up on gas before the short drive back to Argostoli. Returning the rental back to Neptune was a breeze, and we laughed as we headed back into port and saw dozens of wifi deprived passengers huddled by the tourist information office to check their email. Since it had been a few days since we checked ours, we followed suit. The wind was a-kicking, so we didn’t stay too long but it was great that we were able to briefly scan our inbox for anything important. So long pretty Kefalonia! Until next time.