Saturday, April 25, 2015

Zakynthos, a masterpiece of nature

Zakynthos was probably one of the best vacations we ever had. Located in the Ionian Sea the island is said to have been named after the son of a legendary Arcadian chief. The Venetians, who rules at some point in history all the Ionian Islands, called Zakynthos “the flower of the east”.  I don’t know very much of Arcadian chiefs, however after visiting Zakynthos I think it fully deserves the comparison to a flower. Zakynthos is one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen. Full of mountings and white pebbled beaches or golden sand beaches, green, full of vegetation and flowers, sunny and with most perfect blue waters.
Our flight from was Bratislava was in the middle of the night and we arrived at Zakynthos International Airport, "Dionysios Solomos" very early in the morning. A bus took us to our Hotel Eleon situated in the vicinity of the long and beautiful beach resort Tragaki. We arrived just in time to have a wonderful breakfast on the terrace with the view on the beach.

Beautiful sea view from the restaurant

We had warm rolls with feta cheese, sausages, and dark coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. 

Enjoying breakfast

Then we waited until the room was ready for us. The Hotel Eleon was luxurious and wonderfully placed directly on the beach. It was beautiful and clean, the rooms were large and the food was excellent and served on a beautiful terrace with view to the sea. There were many pools, with clean blue water and toboggans for children. 

Wonderful pools
Water slides

In the evening the pools were lighted in different colors creating a pleasant effect. Snacks and drink were always served at the pool bar. 

The pool by night

This is the only place where we didn’t have a sandy beach. The beach was like a beautiful garden with grass and olive trees. The sun beds were comfortable and free.

The beach in front of the hotel
However the beach was a disappointment to us. It was not arranged or maintained at all. The beach was full of stones; the water was full of stones. After a few minutes we had to come out because we bruised our feet in so many stones. We were able however to find a part of the beach where there was a sandy beach and sand in the water and we were swimming only there. The water was beautiful azure sometimes and green when the sun was shining. It was warm and pleasant and in the end we enjoyed swimming there. However if you are a lover of long golden sandy beaches like we are, don’t go to Hotel Eleon, unless you are willing to make  every day trip to the beautiful Tragaki beach nearby.

 Small beach
The only sandy part of the beach

Stony beach

After we rested a few days we decided to visit the Zante town, the capital of the island. So we took the bus from the hotel to the city. The bus station is very big and clean for such a small island. But we saw that buses are leaving via boat to Thesalonikki, Patras and even Athens. Zante town is a very small city; there are only 2 min streets, one through the middle of the town and the second one along the beautiful beach.

 Bus station

The main road Alexa Roma is where all the shops are; not so many since the town is small but enough shops to buy t-shirts and souvenirs. Everywhere you could see he symbol of the island, the turtle. Since the island is famous for the turtles, there are millions of souvenirs with turtles: t-shirts, toys, pottery, key-chains etc. We bought our little girl a t-shirt with the map of the island and a plush turtle, which on arriving home she baptized it Naca (from the Slovak word korytnacka-turtle). 

Alexa Roma street
Alexa Roma street

The street is paved with large stones and the houses are white and clean with beautiful green or blue balconies and shutters. Here and there are small squares full of pigeons and stone benches. 

 Small square in Zante
Then we walked along the beach and looked at the beautiful houses and shops with souvenirs, the ships gliding on the perfect blue water, the restaurants, and the white houses with wooden shudders. We stopped and enjoyed a baklava and ice-cream. The road along the beach is full of people running or walking. There is sunny and beautiful, warm and the breeze is pleasant.

 The Zante harbor
 Walking along the beach
Restaurants near the sea

While walking to the end of the road we find ourselves in front of the Zakynthos beautiful Cathedral Saint Dyonisios, the patron of the island. The superb church is made of reddish brick and ha a elegance and simplicity which is peasant to the eye. Near the church there is a white bell tower, the courtyard is full of small trees and flowers. The entrance to the church is impressive, beautiful painting of saints adorning the door. 

  Cathedral Saint Dyonisios
Entrance to the Cathedral
 The Bell Tower
The most beautiful day spend in Zakynthos was the one when we took the pirate ship for a trip around the island. We boarded the ship and were greeted by the pirate captain and his mates.  While we left the harbor the pirate flag was put up on top of the ship. And so the trip started. 

Welcome to the pirate ship
Leaving the Zante harbor

From our window we saw kilometers and kilometers of wonderful green shore with white houses, sandy beaches and hotels. We watched for hours and hours without getting tired.

 View from the boat

Here and there in the blue of the sea we saw a green or rocky island, unbelievably beautiful. 

 Little island in the sea

Our first stop was at the Xigia beach. It is a very small rocky beach, where the water is sulfurous, it has a specific smell and it is very good for the skin. I was swimming there and it is not only good for the skin but also wonderfully warm and pleasant.

 Xigia beach
 Enjoying the water
Our second stop was near the Blue Caves.  Numerous caves are visible into the cliffs and are accessible only by boat and sea.  It is simply a majestic spectacle of nature. The water is unbelievably blue, the arches of the caves are spectacular, eh rocks are white and the sun reflecting on the white stones and the blue sea creates a splendid lighting effect.  The Blue caves are probably one of the most beautiful natural vies I ever seen. 

 Blue caves
Blue caves
The ship then continued its trip along the mountainous cliffs and we saw only rocks, mountains, here and there very little vegetation, rocky formations and many many arches. Very beautiful were the Marathonisi Island and the head of Poseidon in one famous stone arch.

Marathonisi Island

Poseidon's face in stone
I cannot express in words how blue the water of the sea was. Everywhere I looked small boats were floating as in a dream on the most perfect blue water I have ever seen. And the sun rays were sparking on the surface of the water creating a fairytale atmosphere. 

 Floating in Paradise
 Floating in Paradise
And then we reached the most famous beach Navagio where the rack of the smugglers ship Panagiotis is. If I said that the Blue Caves was one of the most beautiful natural places I ever seen, Navagio was definitely the absolutely most wonderful and breathtaking place I ever seen in all my life. I was speechless and I could not take my eyes one second from the beauty of the place. The beach is hidden between two huge cliffs rocky cliffs and it is not accessible except by boat. The beach is made from very small white pebbles and the water because of the wonderful sun and the white of the pebbles is so blue that I can’t be described in words. All the time I thought of Enya’s song “Caribbean blue”. As I sunk myself in the blue water and swan I thought to myself that this place is magic, surreal and that I am in a fairy tale or dreaming.  As the ship left from the Navagio beach I felt like I was being awakened from a dream.

Panagiotis ship
Pirate ship in Navagio
Perfect beach

 Carabbean Blue
The third and last stop was inside of a large cave where people swam in very blue and clear water. Then the ship went on and on along the rocky cliffs, we saw again rocks and mountains and sandy beach and before we knew it we reached again the Zante harbor. But before getting to destination in the evening we saw dolphins swimming along the ship.

 Perfect blue
 Swimming in the cave
The last days of our trip we spend it near the beach and in the beautiful pool at the hotel enjoying the sun, the water and the free cocktails at the bar.

 Enjoying last days of vacation
 Enjoying last days of vacation
Enjoying last days of vacation

If I were to make a top of our vacations I would say Zakynthos was the best vacation we ever had. I exclude however Palma which is the love of my life. But seriously, Zakynthos is a wonderful place, majestic, a masterpiece of nature, one that is totally worth to visit.

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