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A personal itinerary to Ithaca

About the island of Odysseus

The journey to Ithaca is an adventure. It is not as complicated as the journey of Odysseus or as difficult as the one of the ancient captains and sailors but it is always unique. There is no fast or easy way even today to reach Ithaca. I board the ship in Cephalonia (Kefalonia) and we cross to the port of Pissaetos. The mild city of Sami in Cephalonia is left behind and we face the mountainous and rough access to the island of Odysseus. Ithaca is green and picturesque an island of unique character and I am glad it is not easily accessible so that it can be appreciated even more.

Ithaca

Mr. Kostas is waiting for me at the port. He has become a friend since he took me for a ride, driving his taxi around and sharing with me his stories about the island, its legends and beauty. During my last ride I travelled with two Americans. Just as I was wondering how on earth they discovered this remote rock they started telling me about their beautiful house on the island and the pathways that they helped clear! I am really fascinated by the diversity of all the people that love this place.

We quickly reach the little port where the ancient Phaeacians left Odysseus asleep next to the cave (I am always moved when I look at the old olive trees almost caressing the waves) and suddenly Vathi, the capital starts to unravel infront of us.
Everything here is cool, wild, calm and more down to earth.

I reach my hotel next to the waterfront with an amazing view of the port entrance and my hosts are Mr. Odysseus (whom else) an old captain, Mrs. Dina and their son Homer (wisely named!).

I start wondering around Vathi, I have a cup of coffee in the small café, try “ravaní” (their local desert made of rice) and I always pay my respects to a wonderful roman lady or goddess in the small archaeological museum.She is made of clay, in perfect condition and I am sure she is smiling at me. I study the ancient letters on the grave stones and walk through the Corinthian pottery that proves the presence of the colonists from Corinth on the island in antiquity.

Next on my list is the visit to “Homer’s School”,a peaceful archaeological site near Stavros where the Greek archaeologists are excavating, hoping to discover the “palace” of Odysseus. I am standing on the upper level of the site, staring at a gigantic olive tree. Fascinated by it I am almost sure I’m looking at the bridal bed built by Odysseus himself according to Homer’s description.

The church in Anoyí village is my next stop to admire the wonderful Byzantine frescoes. Saints dressed up in spectacular vestments, covered in pearls and gold, take my breath away.The day ends with a swim in the crystal clear waters of the island.

When in Ithaca the traveler clearly grasps Odysseus’ passion, nostalgia and dedication to return back home to a place characterized by simplicity, truth and the Greek spirit.

Vathi_night

Helen Premeti
Licensed Tourist Guide

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