Skala was the last place we visited in Kefalonia and for Andrea the last straw. Described in some guides as "Kefalonia's experiment in large scale package tourism" it was the kind of place we usually avoid. Not that I have anything against places like this. I like tourists, even the ones who follow the crowd like drugged
sheep treading the
narrow path between bed, beach and bar. And I am the type of person who can have fun anywhere, even in the most miserable circumstances as long as
there is an ouzeri with good mezedes somewhere. It is just that Andrea hates these places and life is much more enjoyable if she is not snarling next to me in the
passenger seat. I told her I had to at least visit Skala for five minutes if I wanted my website to be credible to the type of people who visit places like Skala, even though these people don't generally use my site, but search travel pages for bargains at all-inclusive package hotels in places they know or care nothing about as long as it has sun, sea and cold beer. She still resisted until she read in our ancient copy of Rough Guide that there was a Roman Villa in Skala with a mosaic tile floor. That was
to pique her interest and we followed the coastal road from Poros, past the beautiful small beaches that beckoned us, to the outskirts of Skala where commerce and bad taste collided in an array of ugly buildings that make the rest of Kefalonia look like Vienna.
Driving the coast road there are hotels, large cafes and restaurants on what is one of the longest, widest and sandiest beaches in Kefalonia or perhaps anywhere in Greece. If you have come for the sea and the rest can be hell for all you care, than Skala is the place for you. Skala is a tourist town with all that goes with it. The Good
(great beach and lots of restaurants), The Bad (probably most of the restaurants) and The Ugly (everything else).
The highlight of our visit was the modern shopping center which looked like it was built by an enterprising Greek-American who had gone so far as to import from the USA the signs that said CUSTOMER PARKING ONLY-VIOLATORS WILL BE TOWED. But these signs were unnecessary since the shopping center had no shops and there was a chain across the entrance and exit so you could not get in to park there anyway. And since this was the closest place to the Roman Villa that
Andrea wanted to see,
and the next closest was a town parking lot a few hundred yards further, Andrea placed an ancient curse on the place, taught to her by her grandmother, that will keep the property uninhabitable for a thousand years.
So after parking the car we followed the signs to the Roman Villa, the one ancient site in the town and the only reason why anyone with an interest in the classics, archaeology, history, or anything other than football and beer would come to Skala. It was closed. And from the look of the dilapidated ticket booth it had been closed
And just to assure that the freeloaders, who could not buy tickets even if they wanted to, left Skala disappointed, they had erected a fence around the site so you
could not see the mosaic floor even from a distance.
At this point Andrea had put her curse on the entire town and I had to convince her not to put it on the whole island and promise to leave as quickly as possible after a quick tour through the center of town. Here we found some redeeming qualities, mostly in the form of a beautification project which had paved the main street near the town square with cobblestone and awaiting the trees that would adorn and provide shade if they ever arrived and survived the heat
So I am fairly certain that your trip to Skala will be better than ours. The construction should be finished and the trees planted and flourishing. You won't have the mistaken impression that you will see a Roman Villa with a mosaic floor and be disappointed to find it closed and un-viewable. And you will know that this is just another beach
town for package tourists that you have no reason being in unless you are one. But if you are one you are probably not reading this.
And in response to those who might ask how I can judge a place that I only spent one hour in, who are either from Skala or come here every year as a tourist and know the good things that Skala has to offer besides a long beautiful sandy beach and a couple tavernas that might not be apparent on such a short visit, all I can say is that if you can convince the municipality to reopen the Roman Villa or at least remove the fence that makes it impossible to see the
mosaic floor, I will see
if I can convince Andrea to remove the thousand year curse. And maybe we will come back to see it and write a better review of Skala. Or maybe I will just come by myself and have some fun.
But why listen to the advice of a world famous travel writer who spent one hour in Skala? (half an hour of which I was in the car while Andrea went into a pharmacy and I was too hot to do anything but sit with the AC blasting). Linda Mitchel from Matt Barrett's Greece Travel Guides Group on Facebook writes...
"The people of Skala are so friendly and welcoming, the Tavernas are many and the food is great in all of them. The Captains Bar is the most random bar playing eclectic music and the bar guy George is as camp as Christmas but in fact a great performer and itís always Yammas time. We donít go to Skala beach, we prefer Kamina as we always hire a car from Greekstones and pick it up from the airport and drop it off there. The Anemos Taverna on Kamina beach
serves the most amazing food especially the Grilled Octopus served with a cheeky local Rosť. I donít know why I love it all but I do"
Update: For those who plan to visit it is not really that bad a place and recently they reopened the Roman Villa. The beach is great and there are hotels and rooms on Booking.com's Skala Page. For Holiday Homes, Villas, Self-catering Apartments and Air BnB Style Accommodations see Matt's
Featured Restaurant: Mikelatos
by John S Douvris
Mikelatos Restaurant (formerly Scandinavia) is a family restaurant run by brothers Jimmy & George Mikelatos and Georgeís son Nick. It is located in downtown Skala, a popular tourist resort in the southeastern tip of Kefalonia, and it is the oldest restaurant in town.
The restaurant has undergone many changes over its 42 years, but none as significant as when young Nick came back to Kefalonia in 2016 from the US where he attended university and worked at two high-end Mediterranean restaurants owned and operated by a family originally from Lakonia in the Peloponnese. It was there where he learned at the feet of very successful restaurateurs the secrets of how to turn a very good restaurant into a great one.
Unlike many other establishments who cook their oven-made mayerefta in the morning and serve them throughout the day, the meals at Mikelatos Restaurant are prepared at the time they are ordered. For example, the chef prepares the phyllo mold for their traditional Cephalonian meat pie in the morning, and when a patron places their order throughout the day, the meat mixture is placed into the phyllo and then baked in the oven. Although this method may take longer than reheating a dish prepared earlier that morning, the flavorful results are infinitely better.
Additionally, they pride themselves in using local ingredients and wines. For instance, the best tasting feta cheese Iíve ever had (and Iím not a big feta cheese fan) was procured from nearby Agia Eirini.
Their amazing food is matched by their friendly service and attention to detail. If you are passing through Skala and have time for only one meal, make sure itís at Mikelatos Restaurant. However, if you are spending a few days there, Iím certain you will want to eat several meals there like my wife and I enjoyed. See their website
Between Skala and Argostoli
Between the tourist filled beach of Skala and the city of Argostoli are a number of beaches and villages sandwiched between Kefalonia's southern coast and Mount Ainos. Katokelios, besides being a beautiful sandy beach with hotels and tavernas is also the breeding ground for the Careta-Careta or loggerhead turtles that are fighting a losing
battle against development in the Ionian Islands. Above it in the village of Markopoulo, claimed to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, is the small church of the Assumption of the Virgin where every year on August 15th, the name day of the Panagia, small, non-poisonous snakes appear 'miraculously' appear and supposedly bring the village good luck.
Further down the coast you come to Lourdhata which has a long beach and a number of hotels, rooms and places to eat. Continue west to the beaches of Trapezaki and Spartias before reaching the villages and beaches of Livatho, mentioned in the Argostoli section.
There is a road leading off the main road that will take you to the Robola Winery and all the way to the top of Mount Ainos where you can see not only all of Kefalonia but the other Ionian islands and the mainland as well. Well, Maybe hitting the winery after you go to the top of the mountain is a better idea. Be sure to stop at the store that sells Greek statues and yard ornaments on your way to Argostoli and save yourself the obligatory trip to the National Museum
in Athens and the Acropolis.