Greece has always been our favourite destination for the ideal summer holiday. Wherever we've been to in Greece so far, we had a great time and a wonderful holiday regardless of some minor inconveniences occasionally - such as pricing, a bad flight or a hotel which did not meet our expectations. This summer, Alkis and I decided to spend our summer holiday in Preveza and buy an individual package for one week from Top Kinisis. Considering my fear of flying, I was tempted by the direct flight to Aktion Airport in Preveza, which only takes 1 hour and 50 minutes. Having taken a virtual tour of the area on the Internet, I was seduced by the infinite beauty of Epirus, still unspoilt by tourism, which looked so peaceful and slightly off the beaten track. Our overall experience in Preveza and the surrounding area surpassed our expectations.
DAY 1 - Wednesday, July 9
While Alkis was at work, I spent all morning packing and was ready by 1:00 pm when the taxi came to pick us up. Our flight with Cyprus Airways took off with a slight delay at 3:15 pm and landed us safely at Aktion Airport at 5:05 pm. By 6:00 pm, we had already been driven to our hotel - Ionian Theoxenia. Xenia is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, the generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home and/or associates of the person bestowing guest-friendship. Theo is the Greek word for God and Theoxenia means hospitality towards a Greek god who visits as a guest! We were warmly welcomed by the friendly and efficient staff at the reception, check-in took a minute and we were soon shown to our wonderful room overlooking the village of Kanali and the deep, blue sea.
On our first night out, we dined on kontosouvli chicken which consists of boneless, marinated chicken, skewered and secured by a spit and slow-roasted over an open charcoal pit. We had this delicious meal at a small eatery in the centre of the village - Terastios Taverna. Terastios means huge in Greek. Indeed, the portions were really huge!
DAY 2 - Thursday, July 10
Today, we received the Volkswagen Polo we had rented for our holiday and drove to the beautiful town of Preveza, situated at 12 km from the village of Kanali. The town of Preveza is built at the entrance to the Amvrakikos Gulf and has preserved its charming , traditional character. In the summer, the seafront is a natural marina for the hundreds of yachts that anchor there and breathe life into the town, the market place, tavernas and cafés that line all the pavements of Venizelou Eleftheriou Street.
Later in the afternoon, we had coffee at the hotel and then dinner at Eolos Fish Tavern by the seafront.
DAY 3, Friday, July 11
Today, we set off to discover the town of Parga. Parga is located in the northeastern part of the regional unit of Preveza, Epirus in northwestern Greece and a half-hour drive from Kanali. Parga is considered an island on the mainland. It is built amphitheatrically, around the edge of a Venitian castle in the midst of an olive grove, and is strongly influenced by the architecture of the Ionian islands.
We spent the rest of the day at Lichnos Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, located in a verdant landscape and we enjoyed swimming in those crystal waters with the pine trees reaching down the golden beach.
DAY 4 - Saturday, July 12
Having enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at our hotel, we spent the rest of the morning at Kanali Beach nearby. And then, in the evening, we contemplated the sunset from the balcony of our hotel room while sipping wine and watching the afterglow of this glorious sunset lingering in the horizon as the sky darkened over the incredibly turquoise-blue waters of the Ionian Sea.
DAY 5 - Sunday, July 13
Soon after breakfast, we visited the ruins of the ancient town of Nikopolis founded by Octavian Augustus in memory of his victory in the battle of Actium (31 BC) against Antony and Cleopatra. The walls, Odeon, necropolis, theatre and stadium are truly remarkable. Higher up the slopes, beside the monastery of Ayios Demetrios, begin the 410 steps leading to the imposing peak of Mount Zalongo with its impressive monument dedicated to the sacrifice of the Souliot women. The dance of Zalongo was a mass suicide of women from Souli and their children during the Souliot War in 1803 against the Ottoman ruler, Ali Pasha. In order to avoid capture and enslavement by the Turks, the women of Zalongo, dancing and singing, threw their children first and then themselves off the steep cliff of Mount Zalongo.
After this very interesting visit, we drove to Loutsa Beach - yet another gorgeous beach in Epirus and spent the rest of the day swimming and lying in the sun.
We had an early dinner which looked like a late lunch because at 8:00 pm the sun was still shining in Preveza. Alkis reminded me that we were in northwestern Greece where the sun sets one hour later than in Cyprus. This ...early dinner was due to the fact that Alkis would never miss the 2014 FIFA World Cup!! While he was watching the final, I was reading Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn. Alkis was delirious when Germany won and we celebrated with a glass of wine and fruit.
DAY 6 - Monday, July 14
The island of Lefkada is only a short drive away from Preveza, so today we thought we'd have a swim at one of the island's most popular beaches - Nydri beach, which also happened to be one of Aristotle Onassis' most favourite beach resorts despite the fact that he owned the island of Scorpios nearby. We set off early in the morning, drove through the undersea tunnel linking Preveza and Epirus on the north shore of the Ambracian Gulf and the cape of Actium in Etoloakarnania - central Greece. It's pretty much like La Manche Eurotunnel but only cars are allowed here - no trains. Lefkada is joined to Etoloakarnania on the other side of the channel by a pontoon bridge permitting passage of smaller boats. For larger ships, it swings open every hour.
First we stopped at the town of Lefkada, had a coffee, took photos and then , consulting our road map, we drove to Nydri Beach. No sooner had we parked the car near the beach than it started to rain. The fine drizzle gave way to a real downpour and we sought shelter at Piperi Bar Restaurant, just opposite the parking place. The weather ruined our plans for a swim at Nydri. Feeling positive and in high spirits, we drove back to Kanali, Preveza where the sun was still shining despite a fragile and crispy wind.
It was a cloudy and windy day but the weather did not spoil our plans for a pleasant stroll in the town of Preveza.
Day 8 - July 16
We spent the last few hours of our holiday in Preveza at the swimming pool of our hotel, had a snack at the pool bar and then a taxi drove us to Aktion Airport. Cyprus Airways safely flew us back home. At 9:00 pm we were dining on pasta while talking about our wonderful trip to Epirus.
This was by far the best summer holiday we've ever had in Greece.