Meganisi – A Greek Ionian Island

Meganisi means big island in Greek and it is comparable to all the other Princess Islands as they are locally known. The Princess Islands are so called because of the involvement of Onassis. They comprise Meganisi, Skorpios, Skorpidi and Sparti. These are not to be confused with the Prince Islands which are a group of 9 small islands off the coast of Turkey. (Thankyou Google for this).

Ancient History

Meganisi was said to be Krocylea from the Odyssey by Wilhelm Dörpfeld who will be discussed in another article as he made many important evacuations in this area.

Recent history

Papanikolis Cave is famous in this area for its sheer size and breathtaking natural beauty. All of the boat trips from Nidri harbour take you past it as it’s such a unique feature. The legend talks about a World War 2 submarine the “Papanikolis” from which the cave takes its name hiding out here after engaging in battle with the Italians. If you wish to know more about incident read all about it on the Wikipedia page Papanikolis Submarine.

The Olive Oil museum above shows the process that they used to have to go through to extract the oil from the olives. It’s a big mill stone that has to grind the olives to a pulp. The olive harvest takes place every November so the production was always a winter activity when there was less to do elsewhere. The mill is now preserved as a tourist attraction.

Meganisi also hosts the tourists for a traditional dance evening. This is where the ladies are invited to try to repeat what “Mama” did when she was younger. This is to carry the water up from the harbour side to the village of Spartahori on the hill by way of balancing the container on your head and walking a few steps.

(C)Hori [χωρι] is the Greek word for village which you will come across in lots of names like Neohori on Lefkás is New village or Katohori also in Lefkás is Under village. The c sound doesn’t exist in Greek hence it is sometimes represented as above.

“Mama” had to do this a couple of times a day but I have no idea how she managed as nobody ever completes the challenge. Even with the incentive of a bottle for the winner. You are also taught some traditional dance steps. One is for the women which can be done regardless of age or ability and one for the men. It’s a very enjoyable evening with food laid on too. The performance of the dances is spectacular.

More recent history

This is not a war memorial which it appears to be at first but a dedication to a 25 year old coastguard Marinos Zampelios who lost his life battling at sea. There are the same memorials in Corfu (Thankyou internet) where this actually happened. If you believe the Golden Dawn website and I wouldn’t because there so heavily biased it’s unbelievable; “He died preventing Albanian scum from conducting drug wars here.” That language in itself tells you that is not what happened at all but due to lack of other sources I can’t tell you what did happen. It’s quite a shocking event though on an island that only has 3 villages, Spartochori, Vathy as will be mentioned later and Katomeri which has practically no facilities. The entire population of the island is roughly 1 thousand.

Here is a picture of a nice bell tower after that scandalous paragraph to lighten the mood once more.

Sailing

Meganisi is also good for the sailors as they come into Vathy harbour and there are a couple of restaurants here.

(Βάθη) Vathy is another one of those brilliantly named places as it means depth and it most certainly has a deep harbour. It’s always filled to the brim with sailing boats.

Again the spelling is different because beta is a v sound in reality so vita.

I have been on a sailing boat many times to the harbour and have eaten there too. There is a nearby bay that is known as “No Name Bay” and this is where we would stop to swim. There are lots of little bays and inlets here that offer the opportunity to sample unparalleled views without the need to go ashore.

However, if you wish a sojourn on the island; the ferry comes across from Nidri on a regular basis. This allows you to visit without the need to have friends with a boat. Or to go on the Odyssey which is how I have visited in the past. Along with the Ionian Star. Many other commercial boats ply the waters here too so you have quite a pick of transportation.

Are there any relatively unknown corners that are near where you live?

Best wishes

Angela

Saints associated with Lefkás, their churches and shrines

Lefkáda – Panagia Fanoroemeni Monastery (the Virgin Mary) is revealed on August 15th. There are many churches with the same name with the most famous in Cyprus thanks again Google. There is a monastery for her on Lefkás about 3km from Lefkás town. It includes a religious history museum, maritime museum and a zoo. The Venetians had some input to the architectural structure too. This is why it’s the best looking, most well maintained and well known monastery on the island. I am yet to visit this place but you can see many pictures online and on the Wikipedia article there is some info Lefkás but best check elsewhere as it’s rather lacking.

Lefkás town – Santa Maura 3rd May. There is a fort dedicated to her at the top most point of the island. I haven’t visited her either as it was closed the day I wanted to go.

Nidri When they have weddings here it is traditional to honk your horn all the way through the village until they get home which can be quite some distance. It is a very noisy affair as the horn is sounded whenever they feel like it so about every couple of minutes. This is every vehicle in the procession so it can be a cacophony of noise. Just like the Easter celebrations except more vibrant as this is early evening instead of midnight.

White church – This is the church on the top of the island that everyone sees and sometimes they have weddings up here. The panoramic views across the entire area are phenomenal.

Sappho’s leap – St Nicholas the patron saint of Fishermen. St Nicolas 19th December.

Geni – Kiriaki 7th July Agia Kyriaki

This is the shrine below dedicated to her and the church that is nearby. I’ve been inside too for a lovely christening but I didn’t take any pictures as there were 2 professional photographers but I don’t know if I’ll ever see the photos of that event.

As you can see I have visited some areas and not others due to there location.

Do you have any special saints that you worship where you are?

Best wishes

Angela

Panos Karnezis

Author of the Maze, the Birthday Party and Little Infamies. He has also written the Fugitives and the Convent. Here is the Wikipedia article on himself Panos Karnezis

I was reading the maze on a cruise I was on last year and I was tempted to nick it since there were two copied but I was good and bought myself a copy off Amazon when I got home. It’s always good to support authors since they put so much effort into their work. It’s there livelihood and we need them to maintain their creative focus so that they can continue to entertain us with their words.

The Maze is a book about the Ottoman war and it’s very evocative of an era that was in the recent past but most of us don’t really know what it was like because we weren’t alive then. I love the way he draws you in so you can’t put the book down and you just want to continue reading one more page!

I have previously read Little Infamies and it had the same effort on me. This might be a little more fictional but it’s still based in reality and those stories still could happen today.

The Birthday Party is set in time of Aristotle Onassis but I haven’t read that one yet. It’s probably just as good as the others given the standard of the previous books.

The Convent I have just found out about by researching for this article and it’s set in a Spanish nuns convent. I think this will be quite different to the other books so it will be intriguing to see how this one plays out.

The Fugitives is another I was unaware of and it takes places in South America. It again has quite a religious lean to it by dealing with Catholic’s but it is a big part of life over there so I think he will do the themes in the novel justice.

Are you the type of person like me who when you find an author you like, devour everything that they have written as quick as possible?

This is the second post in my Greek author series.

Nikos Kazantzakis

Other series include Greek poets, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways.Series links

Best wishes

Angela

Nikos Kazantzakis – Zorba the Greek

He is the author of Zorba the Greek the most famous Greek movie. It has spawned many restaurants of this name and for most people this is in fact all they know about modern Greek culture.

For those that don’t know this is based on a book. It’s an amazing book that puts the movie into the shade. While the movie is very good when you have read the book you can see how much has been missed out a bit like with the LOTRs trilogy.

The prose, philosophy and humour that he injects into his main character Alexis Zorba is astounding. I have a feeling I’ve written this before but a little deja vu is ok here. He makes a very good counterpart to show how much you can know about the world in terms of academic learning yet know nothing about what matters in life. He makes it his mission to teach his rather staid English companion how to loosen up and enjoy life. It’s a rather entertaining jaunt throughout the story learning about the adventures that they get up to together. They make a great partnership and there is also a purpose that they fulfil. I adore the insight into Greek culture and history that you get from this story. I don’t want to repeat myself too much but this really is a must read book.

He has also written many other books but they are not quite as well known so are more difficult to get hold of. I have some of them, but I haven’t read them yet so I can’t comment on there content. I believe they will be just as good.

  • Christ Recrucified
  • Captain Michalis
  • The last Temptation of Christ
  • Freedom and Death
  • This is a sampling of the works that are usually available. Try Amazon if you can’t find him in your local bookstore.

Here is the Wikipedia article on him if you want some background in his life. Nikos Kazantzakis. If you want even more info go here Nikos Kazantzakis.

He ties in nicely with my series on Greek (mainly Lefkadian) poets as he happened to have not only met Angelos Sikelianos, but the 2 became great friends along with Angelos’s wife Eva Palmer-Sikelianos.

This is the first post in the Greek author series.

Panos Kanezis

Other series include Greek Poets, Painters, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Do you have any favourite novelists?

Best wishes

Angela

Victoria Hislop

I love all of her stories Victoria Hislop

  1. The Island
  2. The Return (based in Spain)
  3. The Thread
  4. The Sunrise
  5. Carte Postales
  6. Those that are loved
  7. (Short story – One Cretan evening and other short stories)
  8. (Short story – The last dance and other short stories)
  • Above is a list that I have read so far except Those that are loved as I couldn’t find it when I went looking for it yesterday. I admire the fact that she loved the story of the island of Spinalonga so much that not only did she feel compelled to write a novel about leprosy but also learnt Greek.

I too have learnt Greek as my recent outing to Lefkás town has given me a much needed confidence boost in that I can speak and understand the language in real time as far as shop and restaurant talk goes.

  • I write books too and one day hope to be as successful as she is. Here are my books :-
  1. How to teach autistic children effectively
  1. How I learnt Greek
  2. How to communicate with your autistic child
  3. Greek life
  4. How to improve your Greek
  5. How to learn any language
  6. A life of Halcyon Days
  7. Imagina
  8. A Life of Ice and Fire

I hope you enjoy reading these recommendations

She is part of my foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways series.

Lawrence Durrell

Virginia Woolf

Henry Miller

Lord Byron

Eva Palmer-Sikelianos

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela