Zakynthos – Perfect gateway to Greek Islands

There was dual excitement in the air. Honeymoon and Greece. The combination with itinerary I made, somehow gave the gut feeling that the following fortnight is going to be blissful, relaxing and a cornerstone in course of relationship with the wife. Mumbai – Istanbul – Athens just went by in a jiffy because of the expectation and speculation whether Greece would live up the hype I had created around it! There was a lot of planning that went behind it and my reputation as a traveler and not as a tourist was at stake.

Athens greeted us early in the morning on our way from Mumbai. The airport is not one of the architectural events of your life. Nevertheless it served as an efficient transit hub for our flight to Zakynthos.  The flight to Zakynthos was an ATR aircraft (special mention as it was our first time in this aircraft). Honestly, I didn’t really trust propeller aircraft of such sizes, but it held up well. From the airport we took a Taxi to Planos, Zakynthos. The journey was through fields and small villages with houses spread out. I distinctly remember jumping guns too soon and coming in doubt over the beauty of the pace as the places we passes seemed like the countryside of any other European country. Through the way there was no sight or sign of water or the beauty that was supposed to on offer. The events till now kept us in complete suspense about what was to unfold.

We reached Neraida studios, to be greeted by Dennis and his wife who run the place. The very sweet couple let us to our room. As expected we had a small alcove that acted as the kitchen. The room’s balcony had a keyhole view through the foliage of the beach. That was the first sighting of water and seeing clean blue water, I was rest assured and motivated to be on the beach at the earliest. It was late in the evening, so we just choose to walk around the market. The market in Planos is lively with tourists and a variety of options to eat. All sorts of cuisines are available with various watering holes for some indulgence with alcohol.
Us at the Lakinthos Resort

As with every beach destination. the urge to reach the beach gripped us and we reached early in the morning only to be stopped by mother nature through a signboard saying that the sea is rough. Do not enter. It was a bitter moment, but safety is always priority, so a walk on the beach was what we satisfied ourselves with. The beach understandably was empty, so were the cafes and restaurants facing the beach. We chanced on this opportunity an grabbed a sea side table for some coffee and a long conversation. The scenic background, the sound of waves, an almost empty place with hot coffee is the perfect place to strike a conversation and we did that for hours at a stretch.
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The entrance to Tsilvi Beach
We moved back to the market and rented an ATV there. The prices are pretty cheap and there are varied options in terms of power available for you to drive around the island. Never had we tried this before. I still took a chance as this was very similar to the Vespa kind of motorcycles. But it has turned out to be my nemesis. I couldn’t control this on the first go. Drove on the other side of the highway on the second only to finally crash on the side. Luckily no damage was done. But the fear has been instilled with regards to this ATV in my head and even after trying ample number of times, that fear still exists. The day was cut short and later in the night we spent a good time in a pub, once again the market place was our destination.
Wife with the ATV we rented and the Planos market in the backdrop
In between the roaming around the market, we booked out cruise around the island for our final day in Zakynthos. A bus picks you up to take you to the port situated at Zakinthos. Yes you read it right Zakinthos is the port of Zakynthos. The cruise is a big boat that carries around 100 people. At first glance I was a bit disappointed as I thought might not get proper angles for the photos deserved by this place. But as the cruise moved and people settled, there was plenty of movement space all around the ship. You could be on the upper deck or lower, in front or back.
The cruise at the port
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Stone arch formation – A view from the cruise
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Another interesting rock formation – A view from the cruise.
As the cruise moves the various interesting rock formations come along the way. The most interesting are the ones where the stone cliff form arches. These arches also form caves in some locations. These caves are only accessible by smaller boats. Such an option was not available on the cruise ship. However the curiosity of entering these caves was quenched later in Milos on a similar cruise. So in hindsight, don’t have qualms about it. The cruise takes about three hours and you will never get bored of the views. They just constantly keep changing. Sometimes you a cliff is in front, sometimes a beach ans then the sea is a constant companion. Unusual for me, but I do have a lot of selfies from this place.
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Shipwreck beach – first sighting
The cruise leads you to the shipwreck beach or to the Navagio beach. Probably only the internet knows it as the Novagio beach. The beach is a cove with white limestone cliffs, white sand and clear water. This is what make it stand apart and makes thousands of tourists throng this place every year. The place is only accessible through water which gives you the reward of a treasure hunt once you reach. The ship wreck adds to that idea of finding a treasure that was probably on that ship. The cruise allows you a good hour to spend on the beach and that was the first time we were able to enter water. Finally the thirst was quenched .
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The shipwreck with the tourists
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The clear water and the cliff – Shipwreck beach
Vegetarian Perspective
Having traveled before to Europe, I knew what was on offer. So we were well prepared with food in our bags. My article on the vegetarian tourist details out the ordeal. But Zakynthos was a surprise in this regard. Never once did we have to complain. All the outlets in the markets have vegetarian options that were tasty enough. No place stands out from them to detail out but I can vouch for the fact that you wont be disappointed.
It was now time to leave Zakynthos. A name I couldn’t pronounce before I reached Greece is now etched in my memory . There is now a fold in the brain dedicated to Greece and Zakynthos dominated it. This is the kind of place which makes you wonder, is there any thing better to offer? Probably the best was kept for first?
Moving further, the places just piled on their beauty in our sparking eyes. Most of the trip the kind of memory you would want for such kind of a trip. The breathtaking Milos, Romantic Folegandros and scintillating Santorini had us completely engulfed in themselves.

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