THE TOP THREE THINGS TO DO DURING YOUR STAY AT THE EMELISSE HOTEL
Top up your tan at Myrtos Beach
Myrtos beach is Cephalonia ’s postcard pinup! A visit to this beach is a ‘must’ for every traveller to the island. With its steep and windy descent to the long ribbon of white pebble backed by vertical limestone cliffs; a day on this beach is the ultimate in relaxation and ‘getting away from it all’.
The view of the beach from the hills above is breathtakingly stunning and becomes strangely flat and breathless when you arrive on the beach. Myrtos is ideal for a morning or an afternoon sunbathing and taking it easy; due to the combination of steep white cliffs backing the west facing beach, the white pebbles and the crystal clear water Myrtos becomes gradually hotter and hotter as the day progresses sometimes making it very uncomfortable to spend a whole day on the beach.
Assos village and walk to the Venetian Castle
There are few places in Greece where you will find such a dramatic setting as the village of Assos . Located approximately 20 minutes south of Fiscardo, Assos is built amphitheatrically around a serene natural harbour; a strip of land connects Assos to a peninsular atop which, sits majestically a monumental Venetian fortress designated a European National heritage Site.
The village of Assos is without a doubt one of the most attractive places on Cephalonia, with its crumbling ruins, its narrow backstreets and multitude of seaside cafes it is a great place to sit and relax and watch the world go round.
Ideal for an early evening walk, the Venetian castle that overlooks Assos offers breathtaking views along the northwest coastline of the island for those who venture up the narrow track to the entrance of the castle. Built in 1585 in view of the possibility that the capital being moved here, the fortress is now in a state of ruin except for domed entrance and the church dedicated to Saint Mark within the walls.
Step into the past on the Dafnoudi trail
The enchanting walk down the narrow and windy trail to Dafnoudi Beach is truly beautiful. The track takes you through a forest of Olive and Cypress trees and a gorgeous herb scented valley leading you down to the magical pebble cove of Dafnoudi. The tricky access to the beach on foot keeps this cove secluded and quiet, however, during the day it can become busy with people arriving by boat.
A walk in this area will take you to stunning viewpoints, German gun emplacements remnants of the occupation during WW2, beautiful derelict buildings, cannon mountings used for the guns that guarded the channel and amazing tunnelled caves carved into the rock previously used as ammunition stores.
No visit to Cephalonia is complete without a visit to the world acclaimed Gentilini Winery.
At Gentilini you'll get taste after taste of fantastically different wines, informative conversation with our staff and, if you so choose, a private or group tour of the winery with us, the producers. Afterwards you'll have the opportunity to purchase our wines to enjoy during your stay (think picnic on the beach at sunset!) or to take home with you to remind you of your holiday during the long, cold winter months.
Tastings: Monday-Saturdays 10:30-2:30 and 5:30-8:30. June 1 - September 15
Tours and tastings with the producers by appointment by calling Marianna at 6932 718-730: 5:30-8:30 June 1-September 15
Gentilini is located on the main Argostoli-Airport road, 2kms past Lassi and the White Rocks hotel.
We can organize a transfer for you to the Dafnoudi area. The bus will drop you off at the beginning of several short walks and we will provide you with a hand-drawn map of the area so you can find your way around.
There is an enchanting walk down the narrow and windy trail to Dafnoudi Beach which is truly beautiful. The track takes you through a forest of Olive and Cypress trees and a gorgeous herb scented valley leading you down to the magical pebble cove of Dafnoudi. The tricky access to the beach on foot keeps this cove secluded and quiet; however, occasionally it can become busy with people arriving by boat.
A walk in the Dafnoudi area will take you to stunning viewpoints, German gun emplacements remnants of the occupation during WW2, beautiful derelict buildings, ruined mountings used for the guns that guarded the channel and amazing tunnelled caves carved into the rock previously used as ammunition stores.
PHONES: None on route
WALKING: 1 1/2 - 2hrs depending on route taken and stops (see note)
GOING: Steady uphill climb.
TERRAIN: Rough road and pathway.
Note: There are only two routes to the'Fortress, the short cut is really only for the sure footed and those used to walking rough te r ain and heights, as this pathway is in poor condition, and has suffered badly in places over the years, consequently you must step with care and good walking boots o r shoes a r e essential. Don't let this put you off because there are plenty of opportunities for all to see the old pathway, even if you don't want to follow it.
This has got t o be one of my favourite walks, it has all the ingredients that can be lacking elsewhere, l0ts to see, idyllic surroundings, shade, varied terrain, a historic pathway and a circular route which in lots of cases because of the landscape of this island can sometimes be virtually impossible to accomplish.
Joined by the narrow stretch of rock and road is the fortified Assos peninsula, with a dirt road up t o the castle only really accessible by donkey, mule, horse and cart, jeep or high underside vehicles. It can be misleading to most as the road starts off well but deteriorates half way up with the winter rains taking their toll o n part of the top road, there are also only about two spots wide enough to pass another vehicle. So for most of us with the lack of all the above, ideally this makes a good walk. The steady climb uphill is without a shadow of a doubt well worth it with the most spectacular views of Assos, drastic rugged landscapes hidden coves and beaches all encircled with a calming clear blue sea. This is where you have to decide o n whether you are going to take the short cut uphill o r a small pathway or the main road at this point
The short cut starts left, opposite the large fir tree with the picnic seat under it. This leads uphill through the fir wood, where the track then splits, one way leading up on the narrow Venetia n pathway or you can rejoin the main road at this stage.Or you can reverse the route, which is the way Ι will take you.
At certain spots at the beginning of the walk uphill are a few well placed benches under shady trees with views of the bay and village, making this a pleasant evening 'volta', which i s a great Greek custom. They like to stroll early evening before deciding o n where they will eat, which to the Greeks i s a great occasion tending to eat meals that they don't cook at home. Always the great favourite i s charcoal grilled food, which imparts a completely different flavour to everything, from sweetcorn which you can find sold mainly by street venders in the larger towns, to peppers and meats especially chicken, lamb and pork chops, steak and fish. Bread i s also particularly good this way. On Sunday, when there is n o fresh bread, is a good day to ask for 'psomi psimeno sta karvou n a', charcoal toasted bread. Greek people usually eat their evening meal very late, sometimes not before ten o'clock and it i s most definitely a family affair with children and elders all out together.
Α s you turn the first bend you 'll see a small pathway, this leads to one of the small coves dotted around the peninsula. With some of the others you have to be 'goat-like to get there, or of course simply hire a boat. Α s you pass the ruins the smells of pine overwhelms you, this smell of pine has always been associated with cleanliness and found in cleaning products all over the world, this i s because of its fresh, strong smell. However in recent years it has been found to help in alternative ways especially in essential oil and can be used in a number of ways. Aromatherapy is the most widely known of for the use of these oils but, as well as being a good antiseptic, you will find just a few drops of pine oil placed into a bath or onto a pillow or e ν en mixed in with pot-pourri will help with the symptoms of colds. The essential oil from the cypress tree is very calming and relieves tension caused by stress and strain, and of course this is probably the reason so many people ha ν e said how relaxed they feel walking through the pine woods. You'll soon start to see shortcuts, taking off most of the corners but I'll leave you to choose whether or not you wish to take them.
Τo your right on this bend is another small footpath into and through the firs with another seat for people to just relax and take in the views. Υ o υ can see how easy it was to walk to these old terraces, but unfortunately now due to the goats and sheep and of course the weather, time has made them difficult and dangerous to follow.
Next is the old chapel of Panayia Plakoula. The church received its name from an icon which was cut into a stone slab, this was found in the cove down below and has been set into the entrance wall to the left of the gateway, and is now covered with a glass case. This small chapel was destroyed in l867 by an earthquake and rebuilt again in l873.
On this wide bend you will see in front of you a well worn path up the embankment, with a fire hydrant to your left, not as strange as some might think. As I am sure you can imagine fires are frequent in the summer months and can spring up for no reason, especially in high winds. After the winter rains there are lots of weeds and fresh bracken and in the scorching summer heat, these turn the land into a tinderbox. The fire brigade during the summer months is doubled in number. Even after the fires have been put out they are still checked for days after to ensure they don't relight i n the ever changing winds. This is where the track through the wood comes out, and you have an option to rejoin the main road, Also this is a really good photo opportunity for those of you who are unable to walk the old Venetian pathway. Α n ideal opportunity to share with us in some of the history and to get a feel of what it must have been like to have to anticipate and make contingency plans for escape from pirates o r approaching enemy forces. If the main entrance was blocked for any reason, or there was a fire within the fortress, or simply as a shortcut down to the village and harbour, this would have been the route. These fine examples of history help us gain knowledge of how people had to cope with the terrain, growing simple crops and just plain day t o day living all those years ago. Α ll this in a few years, if not maintained soon, will be lost not only to this island but to the rest of the world forever. This imaginary every day sight of just simply walking on paths like this, carrying goods, o r riding donkeys or mules, bringing heavy loads to and from the fortress, will only be left for us to look at in the history books or to recreate in the cinema.
Another short cut here (onl Υ ifyou have the conect footwear) up the brol\en stone slope cuts off a large corner.
Carrying on until you come to the old retaining wall, a good rest break is required here for most and gives you a chance to see the perimeter wall of the fortress and the coves and caves below, I'm sure most of you have noticed the large cactus plants growing o n the banks. In the spring time, the stem of the flower starts to rise up from the base of these huge leaves and looks a lot like giant asparagus tips, these plants are called 'Athanatos' which means immortal, they are also known as century plants. These plants were used by the Venetians for making fibre and rope by beating the leaves
In l57l Ali Pasha, an admiral in the Turkish fleet, attacked the northern areas of Kefalonia from Sami, encompassing this west side, claiming many lives and destroying property. Everyone lived in constant fear during the next twenty years. The fortification and castle of Saint George in the south was considered impregnable by the Turks and pirates, and consequently was not attacked as often. So the only answer to the concerns of the people of this area was to build another stronghold. In the l6th century the Venetians (who governed at that time) granted the building of the fortress and work began in November l593. When you reach the top and start to walk the walls you will see that this was the ideal place to build. The view from all the parapets encircles the surrounding sea. This dirt road was the only means of access from this side of the peninsula other than a hard haul up the cliff face to the perimeter wall. The entrance way, still intact, greets you and as you enter the stone semi-circle chamber to another gateway, the cobble stones now worn smooth over time are still bedded in the floor. Before making your way further stand above this impressive gateway, from where you can see those wonderful views of Assos and the old and updated roads spoken of earlier. Α Venetian Garrison stayed here up until l797. Until l8l5 part of this fortress was a virtually inescapable prison known affectionately by the American Kefalonians as 'Alcatraz'. Once through the gates there is a maze of paths you can take, the main track up to your right leads to a turret at the northwest. From this point you can see the extent of the top of the peninsula, ruined buildings and prison . The remains opposite the gates are the ruins of the Catholic Church, San Marco or Ayios Markos and dates from l604. Τ o the right of this is a set of steps leading downwards taking the next corner off, but if you continue to your left you will see the impressive entrance to the Church. If you consider that in the 17th century a series of terrible earthquakes happened, far greater than any before that time and subsequent ones over the years, including the strongest on record in 1953, how remarkable it is that the archway in the church is still standing. Υ o u can of course explore on your own from here.
Next right along this track is a water hopper, a simple system used all over Greece for collecting rain water which runs down the channel for collection either into troughs for the animals or into underground wells or concrete storage tanks. On your way up the zigzag road and also inside the castle walls you are very likely to see a few carob trees, if you are here when they are in flower you will be able not only to smell them but hear them as well. Yes, Ι did say hear them, the flowers emit the most disgusting sour bleach smell that attracts hundred of wasps. The flower only lasts for a short while thank goodness, after which the trees produce a long edible pod, blackish and sugary. These have been used for centuries to feed animals and sometimes ha ν e been known to help humans in difficult times especially during wars and droughts. You can also press the pods to get a substance like black treacle. Carob is now widely sold in health shops. Its Greek name is 'Kootsupia' and, according to one farmer, can be turned into a powerful moonshine.
As you wind your way down passing more ruined buildings and churches, you will see initials painted in red all along. This is just to let e ν eryone know whose property is whose, as all of this land is now privately owned by the locals and most of the walls have fallen in to disrepair. There was said to be at one time approximately 60 government buildings and 200 people li ν ing here. The castle grounds were li ν ed in by the Destounis family until 1968; they built a small wooden house after their family dwelling was destroyed in l953. The parents are now dead and their only son moved to America , and the two daughters live in Athens.
The next ruin to your left before the prison is the guards quarters, a prison wagon was kept in the middle used for collecting and transporting prisoners. The area to the left was for making wine, and to the right ι were the living quarters.
As you pass the no entry signs please acknowledge them and leave any vehicle here, but you are quite welcome to proceed down to have a look. You are likely to be greeted by goats and cats but the dogs are tied up a little further on. Up until 1797 the prison building itself housed the Venetian Governor, after the Venetians left it was used as a rural prison until 1815. Υ o u ι can plainly see as you reach the fence that the last time it was used was in the second world war with the sentry boxes still standing above the cells.
Retrace your steps once more to the ruined guard house, behind this is where you will find the second small, once semi hidden gateway, now with a makeshift wire gate, don't worry this is not to keep you out but the goats in. Please ensure however, that you do close the gate securing i t properly with the rope. This pathway, until it is hopefully repaired has a few nasty spots but you will be pleasantly surprised as to how short this route actually is. The beginning is a little difficult, but just remember t o go the way of the walls and take no shortcuts, these have only been made by the goats. Keep close to the walling and just before the cave it is safer if you walk behind the bush at this point. Υ o ιι then can see the retaining wall and from there it becomes easier. Ι feel this is a much better way t o come, especially for the view, for taking photographs and to just imagine! Υ ou rejoin the route at stop 6 and from there the choice is yours once more, either rejoin the main road for the views or walk down through the fir and pine wood following the small pathway.
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