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Poros, Kefalonia

Poros, KefaloniaOur arrival in Poros was like one of those horror movies where the young couple come to a small town and end up being eaten by zombies. We had driven from Athens and caught the last boat from Kyllini which got into Poros just before midnight. We had the name of a highly rated but inexpensive hotel which we followed the signs for until they disappeared somewhere up in the hills above the town without us ever seeing the actual hotel. So we backtracked and started again at the center of the village, this time looking for any hotel.

We stopped in a large intersection where there was a cafe-bar that advertised apartments but we decided to use that as a last resort in case we did not find anything better. When we reached the waterfront there was a large apartment building type hotel and a woman who turned out to be Greek-American who was outside, one of the few people on the street since everyone else was watching the semi-finals of the World Cup, never a good time to be looking for a room. "Do you have a room?" we asked in the manner of which tourists had asked for centuries. She seemed surprised by the question then realized she was standing in front of a large multi-storied hotel. "Oh. This is my parents hotel and they decided not to open this summer". (A wise decision in this, the best summer for tourism since the Roman invasion). We didn't ask why but assumed that like many other businesses in Greece it was cheaper to close than to pay the taxes demanded by the money hungry Greek government. But her cousin Takis had a hotel a block away so she took us there, another multi-floor complex, this one brand new. Yes he had a room but it was not made up so we could not have it. So we went back to the cafe with the apartments upstairs that was our last resort. It was closed.

Poros, KefaloniaAt this point most travelers would be freaking out. But I had a car and was happy to explore and the Greek American girl with the hotel that was not a hotel told us to check around the bend where there was a lovely beach and more hotels. So we followed the coast and found a nice area with tavernas, cafes and even a small hotel right on the sea called the Kalypso. I left Andrea in the car and went into the lobby. It was empty as was the breakfast room which was also a bar though the TV was on showing the World Cup to no one in particular. There was a bell which I rang before seeing a note that said if nobody was here call this number. I called and asked in Greek for a room and waited about ten minutes until a woman and a little boy came from somewhere down the street. The room was fine with AC and a view of the sea and was only 50 euros so we took it and set off to find something to eat.

The restaurants along the coast all looked promising with their lights illuminating the sea. But getting someone to cook for you at 1am during the second half of a World Cup semi-final is not easy even in the greediest of tourist towns, and Poros had that feeling of a town that when it came to tourism could take it or leave it. The kind of place I usually love despite the occasional disadvantages. Like this one for instance. Finally we exhausted our supply of restaurants and settled on the cafe bar where people were watching the last few minutes of the game. On the menu they listed Guinness which is sort of like food. But as is often the case the only beers they actually had were Amstel, Heineken, Fix and Mythos. I went for the Mythos and settled for a dinner of stale bar nuts.

Poros, KefaloniaThe next day began much better and pretty much ended what had looked like the beginning of a horror movie. I woke and parted the curtains to a beautiful sea, and a young honeymooning couple the only ones in it. I put on my bathing suit and entered the water carefully. Something important to know about Kefalonia is that some of the beaches are stones of all shapes and sizes and beach shoes, the kind you actually wear in the sea, are worth having. I don't have any so entering the water was a painful experience. But I found that by going further down the beach towards the beach beds and umbrellas I could get out of the water a lot easier than the way I got in. By the time I had finished my morning swim Andrea was awake and we met in the breakfast room which was filled with a dozen or so tourists from every non-English speaking European country including a Greek couple or two. After exploring the town we got on the road to explore the rest of Kefalonia.

Poros, KefaloniaAt the end of our trip, which even though it was only 4 nights seemed like a week, we returned to Poros. Along with Sami, it seemed like the best place on the island. Nice weather (Argostoli was hot and humid), a reasonable number of tourists, and the fact that the Calypso Hotel was right on the beach, even though I did not swim again. But it was Saturday night and the restaurants were roasting kontosouvli and chickens and one even had live bouzoukia music for the handful of tourists and Greeks. We had a raki at m Anabeis which they served with a giant meze and the owner invited me to taste his delicious kontosouvli as he sliced it off the spit. We watched the full moon rise over a small piece of land that jutted into the sea and then walked to the main part of the village which had a more festive feel with a few hundred people doing volta on the prominade or packed into the tavernas, children playing soccer and hide and go seek, and a buzz of voices filling the air. We took it all in and went back to our neighborhood, past the bouzoukia and ended up in O Memas, the most traditional and quietest restaurant on the beach for our final meal on Kefalonia. We left on the 10am Sunday ferry to Kyllini.

Poros, KefaloniaSo should you stay in Poros? I give it a thumbs up. If you are coming from the mainland it is the easiest place to get to and leave from since this is now the primary ferry port. You can even get to Ithaki from here. It is about as convenient for visiting other parts of the island as anywhere else is. The beach in town is fine, especially with water shoes and there are areas you can find sand and on the road to Skala there are several beaches some which you may have entirely to yourself. The restaurants are good. Simple Greek food like you can find anywhere with a few things you find only in Kefalonia. The restaurants do cater somewhat to the desire of tourists but for many of them their main clientele are Greeks whether they are locals, from Athens and the mainland, or Greek-American-Canadian or whatever, which means they serve food that tastes like home since chances are that Momma and Yaya are in the kitchen while Baba and Papou are manning the grill and the kids are doing the serving. Is it the real Greece? Yeah it is in a way. It is the real Greece as it is now in Kefalonia. Bad architecture just like everywhere else but you get used to that. What is nice about Poros are the things that are natural. The sea, the pine trees, the air, and oh yes, the humans.

For hotels and rooms in Poros see Booking.com's Poros Kefalonia Page and for homes, villas and apartments see Clickstay's Kefalonia Pages.

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