The beginning… Lefkada

Rising up!…As the colors of the dawn sets in…the story begins..

The other day a friend of mine asked me for some advice on what to do and what to visit while being in Lefkada. Of course, instantly my eyes started to glow and the words started to flow from my mouth like it was a flooding. Pretty soon I noticed my friend`s glance…she was so close to drowning in so much information when she asked me with a soft voice “ Can you please, write it down so I can remember all this..?“. Yes ..I know.. I can be so overwhelming when I start talking about things I love….But, in my defense….she started it!?

Ironically, my trip to Lefkada Island represents the birth of The Lonely Traveler. Because there, on one of  those fantastic beaches, I found myself alone, spending a vacation by myself, after breaking up with my boyfriend. If la Cita di Bologna represents the beginning of my traveling adventure, Lefkada Island represents the birth of The Lonely Traveler. To be more precise, it happens on Milos Beach, after long talks with myself, while waiting for the sun to set, my glance lost somewhere in the infinite blue around me when… I came up with the name.. “ The Lonely Traveler“. I realized that this is what I want to do. Which is…to write about my traveling experiences..My very first article should have been about Lefkada, but it was not… Instead, I am writing it  now…better late than never…

Milos Beach, Lefkada Island, Greece, by Kamila Zadora
Milos Beach, Lefkada Island, Greece, by Kamila Zadora

Since I have been in the neighboring Kefalonia Island, Lefkada caught my eyes with its majestic posture  floating above those fantastic blue waters, and I promised myself that somehow I will be there one day. After an entire year of being so convinced that my Greek Summer vacation will be in Zakynthos Island, two weeks before my departure date I notice that the traveling agency I was using was having a new destination…Lefkada. Needless to say that all my plans changed and as always I was embarking myself towards the unknown…

 The Fifty Shades of Lefkada by Andreja ND
The Fifty Shades of Lefkada by Andreja ND

There are a lot of things to be said about Lefkada, but I will talk about the things I loved the most. Which are the beaches from the West side of the island, and the small quiet village I was staying in, Agios Nikitas.

There is a certain je ne sais quoi about this island.  I had this feeling from the moment the car was passing on the long causeway  with the floating bridge which connects the island with the mainland. The first thing that I was noticing were the walls of  Santa Maura citadel, surrounded by the swamp guarding the road. It was the entrance to a kingdom of marvel, where the white melts into the blue producing the most beautiful turquoise waters..It was the kingdom of myths and beauty. Some historians assert that Lefkada is, in fact, the mythical Ithaki the birthplace of Ulysses. Probably this could explain the birth of The Lonely Traveler…Travelers like me might get all kind of strange ideas in a place like Lefkada

Santa Maura Citadel,Lefkada, Greece, by Alex V
Santa Maura Citadel, Lefkada, Greece, by Alex V

Leaving aside the myths and returning to the reality of this magnificent island, I will try to explain why the West coast was the one which caught my eyes and ignite my imagination. The West coast looks like it came to existence after the cataclysms when a piece of the island submerged into the waters leaving behind the sheer white cliffs of Lefkada. The constant erosion gave birth to some stunningly beautiful beaches. The West coast gave me the impression that I was looking at some rough, rugged, rocky, sleepy giant. Even now when I am writing all this I feel like being drawn towards those beautiful beaches. But before I succumb to their luring hands, I should stop, and talk about Agios Nikitas.

Definitely, Agios Nikitas for me was the best choice. There are few words which can define this village.. quiet, small, charming, good food, Ouzo, sunset, Budha Bar and pointy rocks. Now..to elaborate..

Agios Nikitas and Milos Beach, Lefkada Island, Greece
Agios Nikitas and Milos Beach, Lefkada Island, Greece

The village of Agios Nikitas is flowing down from the lush surrounding hills till reaches the small fisherman port. Its calmness made me forgot where I was and found myself in a perpetual state of contemplation. I was wondering on the narrow streets and I found a small hotel with a garden, facing the bay, Hotel Agatha. It had hammocks and lanterns  hanging from the trees. Time seemed to stop in that garden so every evening after dinner I was sitting there watching the small boats in the port while drinking an Ouzo, and listening to Buddha Bar music. Drinking Ouzo while in Greece it is a must, it is one of the Greek flavors. There was so much peacefulness in that garden that I wished I could sleep in a hammock under the stars…and probably I would have done it if  the mosquitoes would not have been so friendly. We had an argument. I was stubbornly insisting in keeping my blood while they were persevering in trying to taste it.

Lefkada Sunset by Stavros Hios
Lefkada Sunset by Stavros Hios

It would have been an injustice if I would not have talked about the food in Agios Nikitas, which was so delicious, having all the flavors  I was expecting to have. The grilled fish freshly caught from the sea, the flavor of crushed thyme and basil sprinkled over the traditional salad, where kalamata olives and the olive oil were bringing the final touch.  There was an oddity, though, I could not understand why the lemonade was made out of concentrate or  it was already bottled when everybody was having, at least, a lemon tree in their back garden?

The main street in Aagios Nikitas, Lefkada Island, Greece
The main street in Agios Nikitas, Lefkada Island, Greece

The close vicinity to Milos Beach is what made of Agios Nikitas the best place for me to stay. Every day  I was walking on a pathway up on the hill only to descend on some steep stone stairs on Milos Beach. Seen from above the beach looked like a bay with white sand, which was, in fact, pebble, washed by the blue waters of the Ionian Sea. I have spent so many hours on that beach being always so fascinated by the waves which were coming and going continuously. Looking like some foamy grabby hands trying to hold  the beach in its embrace….

I was trying to figure out which of the West coast beaches I liked the most and it was so difficult for me to do it. I loved the Milos for the mornings I have spent there feeling like I was mine..all mine…And then it was Kathisma… full of life, with beach bars and music…dancing  surrounded by the light of the setting sun..

Egremni beach bar at Sunset, Lefkada, Greece by Alexandros Maragos
Egremni beach bar at Sunset, Lefkada, Greece by Alexandros Maragos

And the feeling of losing myself on the immensity of Egremni Beach where I could walk, and walk barefoot like it had no end, giving me the impression that I could circle the island if I wanted. That the turquoise waters in which I was immersing were keeping me close to the sea`s bosom. A sea which was a realm so enticing and so unknown to me…the true keeper of numerous shades of blue. Or the stunning appearance of Porto Katsiki Beach where the tall cliffs were a reminder of the dramatic past of this island, not long ago being the place where only the goats were daring to go.

Egremni Beach by Kamila Zador
Egremni Beach by Kamila Zadora

All the West coast beaches can be reached by car or by boat. To experience them fully must be approached on both ways. If reached by car, Egremni has a wooden staircase with 350 stairs, so, in this case, one can say “350 descending stairs to Heaven “. It is a pure Heaven to be on the strait of land blessed with the most beautiful turquoise waters. The descent on Porto Katsiki on the other is shorter, the staircase is made of metal, but is still a descending to Heaven nonetheless. When approached by land it means to face your fear of heights, when approached by the sea it means to see the entire rugged shore in its splendor. The best is to take the boat from Nidri on the East coast and then to sail to the south passing the multitude of small islands,  including the Skorpios Island which belonged to Aristotle Onassis. When reaching the South coast of the island, on the left, the islands Ithaki and Kefalonia will appear like two shadows  lurking above the sea. The boat will  cross the waters breaking the waves, which will be like a hoard of wild horses running on an open field, making  its way along the South coast. Porto Katsiki,Lefkada Greece by Dimitris Kintzios

Porto Katsiki, Lefkada Greece by Dimitris Kintzios

The moment the boat will pass Vasiliki Bay, the surfers heaven, and the lighthouse from cape Lefkada  will be left behind, the West coast will reveal itself in all the splendor. Seen from the West, the island looks like a citadel, with long rugged walls which are standing against the winds and sea`s angriness safeguarding its inhabitants. Only when approached by the sea one can see the true grandeur of this island, and maybe, will understand that nature put a great deal of efforts to realize such a masterpiece..

Porto-Katsiki Beach, Lefkada, Greece
Porto-Katsiki Beach, Lefkada, Greece

I know that I am doing an injustice to Lefkada by  emphasizing on the West coast. I should talk about the small villages lost in the valley on the central mountainous area or I should describe the marvelous sunrises which can be seen from the East coast.But. part of my heart was left on those beaches so how can I not talk about it? And I am thinking, that it is for you, the reader, to discover the island, now that the roots of  wanderlust are starting to grow inside your heart..So..Get ready!…Get set!..and.. Sail!!!!

 Sun rising in Nidri, Lefkada, Greece
Sun rising in Nidri, Lefkada, Greece