This blog aims to give a personal and totally biased view of the Greek islands I have visited. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to the islands. Two aspects of Greek islands that I love are seeing goats wandering around and the dawn chorus of cockerels crowing. Accordingly, each island I have stayed on will have a Cockerel Count and Goatiness rating.
Unless otherwise stated, all images are my copyright and may not be reproduced or copied. Should you wish to purchase a license for commercial use of my images please follow the link to my stock photography blog where you will find details of my agents. Comments are welcomed but reviewed before publication. Enjoy your visit. Regards, David.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Paxos 2014 (Ionian):

Small boats at Lakka
And so back to the lovely Ionian island of Paxos in June 2014. Paxos was only the second Greek island I had ever visited back in 2003 and I had always had fond memories of my stay there.

Things got off to an inauspicious start when I realised the train guard had inadvertly sold me a day return ticket -not one valid for two weeks. Not a good start but soon sorted out. Failing to get into my room at the Gatwick Hilton I was informed that the room wasn't ready yet and I had to haul my luggage back down to reception to get a new room allocated. It was just as well I was already in Greek Island mode and didn't let any of this bother me. Things happen, or in the case of my flight to Corfu didn't. At around three hours I'll admit it is not the longest of flights to Greece but nowhere had it said anything about no meal being served on the plane. I'd only had a snack at Gatwick assuming there would be lunch coming in flight.

Gaios harbour
Oh well, at least I would soon be stepping out into the glorious heat and sunshine of the Mediterranean (albeit hungry). That didn't go quite to plan either as on our final appoach to Corfu heavy rain started lashing over the aircraft. Luckily I had got a window seat this time so was able to see what happened next as just before touchdown the plane started lurching violently as we hit crosswinds over the runway (windsheer to use the jargon) before the pilot aborted the landing and we rapidly powered back into the skies. Some further thirty minutes of circling round Corfu followed before we finally made a perfect landing. I wasn't the only passenger carefully double checking my seat belt as we made the second approach! Far from stepping out into a wave of heat we stepped out into cloudy skies and large puddles of water on the Corfu tarmac.

Still, shortly aboard the fast Kamelia Lines boat for the 90 minute or so crossing to Paxos, I was able to sit outside in the bow area and enjoy the view ahead -which mainly consisted of dark black cloud. Eventually the captain blew the horn and indicated we should all come inside as we approached the storm. Being inside wasn't as bad as I expected as we got to watch the crew in action not least the impossibly glamourous young woman expertly steering our boat through the, by now, rolling seas. When lightning bolts started hitting the sea around the boat with a loud crack it just added to the fun (possibly not for those letting out screams each time).

Finally, after an eventful journey (apart from the non event that was lunch) I was able to open the shutters of my appartment in Lakka and step out onto my balcony knowing I was, at last, back on a small Greek island. Now all I needed was the Retsina (and food). Luckily the Bastas appartments/hotel (call it what you will -they do) are just a few yards walk from the harbour and its collection of tavernas, bars and several mini-markets so the Retsina and food dilema was quickly resolved. It turned out that the Bastas was right next to the appartments I had stayed in back in 2003 which gave me a glow of nostalgia every time I passed them.

I am pleased to say that nothing much in Lakka or the rest of Paxos seemed to have changed much in the eleven years I had been away. The island is densely packed with pine and olive trees and quite a contrast to the barren look of some islands. This makes Paxos ideal for walking as there is plenty of shade available when you want it. And I certainly did plenty of walking, accompanied by my camera of course.

Local bus in Loggos
One of my favourite regular walks was the road walk to Loggos which took me around 35 minutes each way. Take either of the two roads that lead inland from Lakka to the point where they both meet up. Loggos is down the road to the left here (it's clearly signposted). This is quite a steep road curving its way down to sea level and the pretty village/harbour at Loggos where you will find a number of tavernas and shops. Of interest in Loggos is the old stone factory building to the left of the harbour -complete with a very tall chimney. Now semi derelict, this very photogenic building used to be an olive soap factory. For a great view down onto Loggos follow the road that goes up and behind the factory. Ignore the turning to the left but carry on foward to what now becomes a narrow footpath leading to an old WW2 defence post. Just before the pill box there is a path to the right which takes you out to the headland of the harbour giving you a panoramic view down onto the village. This walk was also notable for goat sightings (just on the outskirts of Lakka) and, on one occasion, a pair of snakes (just outside Loggos). The only time I have ever seen live snakes on a Greek island.

Lakka harbour, Paxos

As well as the walks (I'll post more walk details later) do take a trip on the island bus which runs from Lakka to the capital of Gaios several times a day. For 5euros return this made for a fun outing and, as previously posted, you may get the spectacle of diners at Loggos having to vacate their seats as the bus negotiates the narrow harbour front road. When in Gaios turn left along the harbour front for a walk right up to the "new harbour" (where you will have arrived on the island). Just before reaching that look out for the, now closed Pegasus seaplane dock where you used to be able fly to and from Corfu. I would have liked to have tried that! As I said before, Gaios is much bigger and busier than Lakka and Loggos and whilst good for a day visit I was glad to be staying in lovely little Lakka.

The main beach at Lakka is Harami beach which you reach via a stone path at the left hand side of the harbour. This boasts an excellent taverna where I enjoyed a number of lunches of Saganaki and a cooling Mythos beer -with a great sea view. Another favourite lunch venue was the Albatross snack bar (better than it sounds) right where the path to Harami starts.

Paxos was everything I remembered from eleven years ago and more. Peaceful and friendly with lots of lovely walks to be had. The bad weather I encountered on arrival very soon passed and apart from the odd light shower (and a reported tornado -more likely a water funnel!) I enjoyed two weeks of glorious Greek sunshine.

Ilida II hydrofoil, Corfu harbour
My journey back to Corfu was this time on the fast hydrofoil Ilida II. Apart from the atrium like roofless centre of the craft you can also enjoy the fresh air and view from an open area at the stern -which was certainly where I spent my hour long journey. This was also good for getting photographs as we came into Kerkira harbour in Corfu.

Goatiness rating for Paxos still remains low as I only really saw the few outside Lakka -there's just too many trees to fit in the goats I suspect. Cockerel Count on this visit dropped from High to Medium (quite possibly because my rear facing appartment didn't really let me hear the dawn crowing as much as last time). I would have to place Paxos in my top four favourite Greek islands now and is certainly one I would seriously consider making a third trip to one day. Regards, David.

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