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To Keri on Zakynthos

Home -> Europe -> Greece -> Travelogue Greece -> 01 & 02 July 2017

Saturday 01 July, to Keri on Zakynthos

When we drive away we have to go through the narrow gate at the hotel and I take the turn a bit too early: these are a few big scratches on our car, too bad. There is a lot of work on the highway from Athens to Patras and the entrance roads to the highway at Diakopto are not ready yet. Diversion signs are available but they always lead to sand paths that we prefer not to drive. Eventually we look for an alternative route ourselves and we can join the old road to Patras 15 kilometers away.
The Rio-Antirion bridge at Patras The ferry to Zakynthos in KylliniAt Rio, just before Patras we stop at the 3 km long Rio-Antirion bridge that connects the Peloponnese with the Greek mainland. Then we drive to Kyllini or Cyllene as this port is also called. From here ferries go to the southern islands in the Ionian Gulf and Zakynthos is the southernmost. We have not booked but can join the next boat. When you go later in July or August, it is advisable to make a reservation. The crossing takes about one and a half hour and the sea breeze is wonderful.
Zakynthos town seen from the ferryThe ferry arrives in the big port of Zakynthos town from where boats to Italy and other Greek islands leave. From the boat we can clearly see how the city is built on a flat piece in front of the mountain slopes. The city looks new and it actually is because it was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1953, only 2 houses and one church remained undamaged it seems. During the reconstruction, strict building rules had to be met and that has been working out quite well, because in later earthquakes there was virtually no damage to buildings.
Beach at Zakynthos town View of Zakynthos city from ArgasiIt is busy in the city and we decide to visit another day. It is still early in the afternoon and we drive to the east side of the island which is clearly the most touristy. There are many large hotel complexes and it seems that British travel organizations sometimes rent out all accommodations in a village. We come through a number of super tourist destinations where it is full of restaurants, bars and hotels and where every spot of the beach is claimed by a restaurant or a hotel.
Beach at Limni Keri on ZakynthosWe drive to Limni Keri on the southwest coast of Zakynthos where we have rented an apartment. It is a nice place, not too big and not too touristy. It seems that especially Greeks themselves go on holiday here to avoid mass tourism. The name of the village means 'Lake of Keri' referring to a lake that once lay here but has long since disappeared. When you look at google maps, you see that the lake is still drawn on it but it is really dry and overgrown.
There are plenty of restaurants and tavernas and we first have a drink before we go to the pebble beach for an hour. Tomorrow we will look for a quiet sandy beach somewhere else.
Afterwards we search for the apartment that turns out to be hidden between the gardens along a narrow sideroad. Here too, people speak poor English so Teije can practice his Greek again. It is funny when the owner asks if we also want to have 'klimatismo', or air conditioning. So far we only had rooms and apartments with standard air conditioning but here we have to order it especially for 1 euro per day extra. What would she think herself, it is almost 35 degrees. Of course we want klimatismo!
In the evening we walk back into the village and it is pleasantly cozy. There are plenty of people walking around and populating the restaurants but not too busy. We love peace and quiet but a village does not have to be extinct and empty, this is just right.

Sunday 02 July 2017, a quiet day on Zakynthos

Our view from the balcony in Limni Keri Our apartment in Limni KeriWe have a spacious apartment with a large terrace in a lush garden. There is a mild climate and in winter there is enough rain to keep the island green. The island is also called the Flower of the East. Homer called the island, which was part of the kingdom of the hero Odysseus, already a wooded island, but there are also many flowers and plants. The trees mainly consist of cypresses that grow on the mountain slopes and of course olive trees. It seems that there are about 2 million on the whole island of Zakynthos!
Breakfast in Limni Keri on ZakynthosWe start the day quietly and have breakfast in a restaurant in the village by the sea. Well, it is not very quiet because construction workers are busy renovating the restaurant, that should definitely be finishe when the real holiday period starts.
We have not really made any plans for today, we drive around a bit in the neighborhood and see if we can find a nice beach. We soon discover that the southern coast of Zakynthos consists mainly of steep cliffs and that the few existing beaches can only be reached by boat.
South of Agios Sostis we find a dead-end road with space enough to park the car and we can go to the beach where only a few people are on, a sandy stretch that is about 100 meters long. A great place where we can go more often this week. We have to walk down a steep road and although I hardly suffer from my ribs anymore, I still feel them when going up or down a hill. Meanwhile, Teije suffers from moisture in his knee and walks also a little less easy. Age comes with ailments.
View of the island of Marathonisi Turtle island Marathonisi at ZakynthosAfter a few quiet hours on the beach we drive further and before the east coast we see the island of Marathonisi. From this way Marathonia looks like a turtle, but that is not the only reason why it is also called turtle island. It is also a protected natura 2000 nature reserve where the loggerhead turtle (caretta caretta) buries her eggs in the spring on the beach. There are beautiful beaches but a large part is fenced off because the turtle is an endangered species and at night, when they come ashore, the whole island is forbidden for everyone except for employees who guard the beaches. There are several local desks where you can book a trip to the island.
The coast at Marathias Garden with flowers on ZakynthosThis part of the island is hilly, more to the northwest the Vrachionas ridge runs over the island with the highest peak at 756 meters. But even near our village there are enough steep roads and the signage of the roads is really lousy. Fortunately, we have the navigation we can use to drive from village to village. The Venetians were in charge of Zakynthos from the 15th to the 18th century and there are still many Italian influences to be seen in the houses. Even after the earthquake in 1953 many houses were rebuilt in the old style.


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