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KALAMOS (Island) IONIAN ISLANDS
  Kalamos is not a conventional island. It is a tall mountain range which floats on the sea, its northern side overgrowing with towering, thick pine trees. It is obvious to even the non-specialist visitor that these pines are of a special species.
  They perch everywhere, even at the most precipitous points, sprouting from the rocks and reaching as far as the edge of the sea, as though they insisted on demonstrating their superiority over the place.
  Even at the first sight from a distance, then, Kalamos captivates with its unusual, wild landscape. Kalamos has a surface area of around 20 square kilometres and a highest mountain peak of 200 metres.
  There are around 580 permanent residents, increasing in the summer when friends and relatives visit the island.
  The centre of the island is the port of Kalamos, which is on the eastern side. This is where many people sailing the Ionian moor their boats in order to visit the island, enjoy some seafood at a seaside taverna or seek refuge from bad weather.
  Work being carried out for the widening the port will increase the number of boats that can be moored here and ease sea transport, which is the island's only means of communication with the rest of the world. A caique makes four to five connections to and from Mytika daily in the summer, bringing passengers and all types of goods to cover the needs of the island's few residents. The island has a simple, rural atmosphere.
  The houses of Kalamos, clambering high above the port, are stone-built, most with tiled roofs, built tightly-packed next to each other and intersected by narrow, winding lanes.
  The road which connects the port with the village rises quite steeply and has many bends. The few cars, used mainly for transporting goods, drive carefully along the narrow roads. A new road starting at Kalamos ascends high into the mountains and passes through an amazing pine forest, terminating at the island's other small village, Episkopi.
  Here the few houses, worn by time, are used as summer residences, drawing their owners to Episkopi each year. It is as though time stopped 50 years ago. The residents' boats, a vital means of transportation and communication with the rest of the world, are kept at the small, new port. Episkopi is only ten minutes from the port to Mytika on the mainland coast of Aitoloakarnania...
  On the other side of the island is Porto Leone, a charming, little bay so named by the Venetians who first drew up the maps of the area.   Nearby is an old bridge built many centuries ago. The pine forest is very rare and the only other forests of this type are found on the Sporades islands in the Aegean Sea. It is a thickly-grown verdant forest, powerful and vibrant and home to many species of birds. The road from Kalamos to Episkopi also leads down to the little beach of Ayios Konstantinos. Here, right in front of the waves, there is a small and pretty private church dedicated to Ayios Donatos, a saint encountered mainly in the Ionian Islands. Built in stone with a ceramic tile roof, it stands alone with only the thick foliage to keep it company; soon it will be in need of care, however, in order to protect it for the future.
  Ayios Ioannis, which is one of the oldest churches on the island, is almost completely ruined. A plaque still remains with an inscription (1648) of the date when the church was most likely built. Other churches are the church of Ayios Minas, the church of Episkopi, and Ayios Georgios in the cemetery.
  The island has long been farmed. Its mountain is lower in the centre and towards the south and is much easier to farm at this point. In the past there was also vine cultivation, but all that remains of this today are the walls that were used to hold the earth in. There are many olive trees and three windmills at Agriapidia, where the whole harvest would be gathered. Kalamos has small, mainly pebbly, beaches with brilliantly clean waters, access to which is mainly from the sea.
  Near the port are the beaches of Myrtia and Asproyiali, whilst further south are Agriapidia, Pefkoi and Kefali with Kedros, Alexaki, Kipoi and Trachilos to the west. The island also has some interesting caves.
  The road that goes from Kalamos to Episkopi has not had much of an effect on the landscape and is ideal for all those who delight in rambling through a beautiful natural environment. The island has only a few cultural monuments. It does, however, have a remarkable natural landscape and an atmosphere which transports the visitor to eras long gone. ve a remarkable natural landscape and an atmosphere which transports the visitor to eras long gone.

This text is cited April 2004 from the Prefecture of Lefkada URL below, which contains images


KASTOS (Island) IONIAN ISLANDS
  Kastos is a low-lying, long and narrow little island covered in olive trees and at which dozens of boats sailing over the Ionian Sea moor safely each day. It is also an excellent place for fishing. It has only fifty permanent residents, which rises to 500 in the summer when friends and relatives gather here.
  Kastos has a greatest width of 900 metres and a surface area of six square kilometres. It has many low hills, the tallest of which is no higher than 150 metres. The island's west coast is rugged, whilst the east coast has many small beaches, which can be accessed from land or the sea. These are Ambelakia and Fyki in the south, Vali, Koilada, Ayios Aimilianos, Limni, Kamini and Vrisidi...
  There are only a few roads on the island, and it is for this reason that there are no cars. The distances are very short and the people move around on foot and, of course, by boat. Every resident of the island has his own boat or small speedboat. The Saracene bay, the natural bay on the west of the island, also has a small mole which makes anchorage possible even during bad weather, so that the island will not be cut off by the strong southerly winds...
  At Kalikerimi there is an olive grove with very old olive trees. They are tall with thick trunks and giant roots which indicate that they must be several hundred years old. At Ayios Aimilianos, a little to the north of the port of Kastos, there is a small cave, Fokotrypa (Seal Hole). It is around 30 metres deep with a little sand within it. From its name we can conclude that in the past seals would seek refuge here. The island's pathways provide for pleasurable walks and are generally quite accessible and straight.
  The view from the pathway along the ridge which goes towards the north is exceptional. In addition, the small road which was recently built provides for a delightful stroll through the verdant landscape, which exudes a sense of peace and calm. The ancient remains at Vigla are evidence for the possible relationship of the island with Meganisi and Kalamos from ancient times (the Tafios islands).
  Kastos is linked by caique with mainland Greece. There are a few connections each day to and from the coast of Mytikas on the other side of the island, which is also Kastos' central marketplace. The caique is the island's only connection to the outside world. The island has fanatical supporters who come here each summer to pass a few carefree and peaceful days in an atmosphere that is different and in an environment that is still clean and unpolluted, as though it were located on the edge of the world.

This extract is cited April 2004 from the Prefecture of Lefkada URL below, which contains images


KASTOS (Village) IONIAN ISLANDS
The village of Kastos is built around the harbour in an amphitheatre pattern. The houses, most of which are boarded up, are very spread out on large plots of land and surrounded by olive trees, giving a feel of comfort and openness. They are all two-storey, made of stone and with red-tiled roofs and wooden window-shutters painted in different colours. Many of these houses have large balconies with large doors leading onto them. This picture exudes the comfort of earlier days, and a visitor who comments that it is reminiscent of Greece in the 1960s would be quite justified. The village has a few restaurants which specialise in seafood, serving the fresh fish trawled up by the island's fishermen. A proper water supply system was recently installed on Kastos, thus easing the lives of the residents.

This extract is cited April 2004 from the Prefecture of Lefkada URL below, which contains images


Meganisi, A relaxing rhythm

MEGANISSI (Island) IONIAN ISLANDS
  Meganisi is a small island covered in vegetation lying to the east of Lefkada with an area of almost 20 square kilometres and a permanent population of 1,200. It lies at a distance of four nautical miles from Nydri, with which there is a daily ferry-boat connection. It has three villages, Vathy, Katomeri and Spartochori, and three quaint ports, Spilia at Spartochori, Atherino at Katomeri and Vathy. The island's capital is the village of Katomeri, which is located high above Vathy and is also the seat of the Municipality of Meganisi.
  In ancient times Meganisi was probably known as the island of the Tafiots. This name appears for the first time in Homer, probably taken from the myth of Tafios, son of Poseidon and King of the region. Homer mentions that, when he left for Troy, Odysseus entrusted King Mentor of the Tafiots with his ships.
  Other people believe that Meganisi was the island of Asteria, which is also mentioned by Homer. On Meganisi there are still several bays in which ships sailing over the Ionian Sea can find shelter. These include Ambelaki, Balos, Platiyiali, Svourna, Kolopoulos, Dichali, Limonari, Elia, Limni, whilst there are also caves in the south-east of the island. The most noted of these is the so-called Cave of Papanikolis. This is a cave situated in the sea on the island's south-west coast; it is around 30 metres deep and has sand in its interior. Tradition has it that this was one of the hiding places for Papanikolis' submarine, so that the enemy would not spot it.
  It is also said that during the period of Turkish rule a priest (papas) and his students sought refuge here in order to save themselves from the pirates. Other interesting caves are the Giovani cave, a little further above the Cave of Papanikolis, and the Daimonas cave. These beautiful caves can only be reached via the sea. Every day, small caiques come here and to the island's surrounding sandy beaches, giving the visitor to Meganisi the opportunity to view this exceptional scene, with the sheer, hanging cliffs. The villages consist of small farmers' houses, many of which are stone-built.
  The pretty little streets, tiny like 'kantounia' or alleyways, evoke other eras and the few cars which exist on the island, as well as the small bus which serves all the island's residents and visitors, are careful when moving around. Spartochori is built above the port of Spilia on high cliffs with an exceptional view. The area is a luscious green. Pine trees reach out until as far as the edge of the sea and provide the perfect shade for walking. The ascent up the footpath from the port to the village high above is made easier with the help of some small steps. Somewhere in the middle of this walk there is a small opening onto the Cave of the Cyclops, which is still unexplored.
  Many locals believe that this cave is very large and it is quite likely that the area took its name from the cave, as 'spilia' means cave in Greek. Katomeri is three kilometres further down.
  The small and spartan, clean little houses also provide the stamp of the rural life of the village's inhabitants. Those who have stayed are farmers and fishermen, whilst those who left were expert boatmen and sea captains. Olives and vines are the main cultivations here as well. Large olive groves, such as the Misoi olive grove, with giant olive trees which grow on the plateaus and on slopes fixed with dry stone walls so that they will hold well in the earth, everywhere fill the landscape. The area thus once had many olive-presses, both privately and cooperatively owned, only a few of which survive today. There is, however, one machine which still operates normally. This is the Zavitsanos olive-presses in the village of Spartochori. The Municipality of Meganisi has recently undertaken to restore the horse-drawn olive-press of Panoutsos at Vathy and to turn it into an industrial museum.
  Many abandoned windmills are scattered around on the high peaks over which the winds blow; these were at their most glorious in an earlier period, in the 19th and 20th centuries. Most of these are on raised areas above the port of Atherinos. They are situated at points where they will be found by the south, west and east winds. These mills were all privately owned and usually took the nicknames of their owners, such as the mills of Bakolas, Patsis or of Hymos. One of these, Paliomylas (Old Mill) still stands proudly, solidly built in stone, even though its roof is missing. There are many, around forty, threshing floors here still, located high up, made of stone and remnants of the old farming life. They were worked non-stop, so as to separate the wheat from the other produce. One of these is the Konidaris threshing floor. The island's little water was drawn from wells which were opened at various points on the island. Today only a few wells are still in operation, although they stand out for their artistic quality.
  Most of them are built in stone and have very low circular walls with small openings above. The well of Ferentinos at Spilia as well as Rementanis' well-known one are typical. The island has many valuable Christian monuments. The small monastery of Ayios Ioannis Prodromos (St John the Baptist) is built on the pebbly beach on the west of the island. It may no longer have any fine wall-paintings or architecture to show, but it does have a great history. Without having been fully confirmed, tradition has it that the monastery was founded before 1477. It is said that it was destroyed by pirates who then threw the Saint's icon into the sea, from where a fisherman dragged it up in his nets. In 1800, the monk Ioannis Patrikis, who was from a rich family and much loved on Ithaki and also on Meganisi, which he visited often, sent a nun over to rebuild the monastery.
  The nun made constant appeals for money, along with her assistant the Meganisian Vasilis Politis. It is said that for this purpose they even reached as far as the Tsar of Russia. The monastery was finally rebuilt and the nun remained there until her death. Her grave lies between the foundations of the old and new walls of the sanctuary. It is believed that the church of the cemetery of the Ayioi (Saints) Constantine and Eleni, which belongs to the parish of Vathy, was built in 1620 and the style of the wall-paintings generally fits in with this date. It is a single-aisled wooden-sculpted church with a built iconostasis.
  Sections of a wall-painting representing a horse-backed saint, Ayios Georgios, were recently found under a thick layer of plaster. There is evidence that monks lived here before the church was built. In 1790 the shipowner Malamas restored the temple and donated the land to the cemetery. The new windows which were opened during the restoration destroyed a part of the wall-painting of Ayios Georgios. The church of Ayios Nikolaos is also ttached to a cemetery and was recently restored. It is located in the area of the plain, a little outside of Bosoi, and dates to the early 19th century.
  Meganisi is an island full of unadulterated natural beauty, it is hospitable and peaceful, without many cars and noisy activities.It is ideal for walking along the many footpaths which cover the island and the narrow roads which have little traffic. And it is especially ideal for all those who seek simplicity and authenticity. The Meganisians, who love their island, are respectful towards the environment and take good care of it, preserving its features unadulterated. activities.It is ideal for walking along the many footpaths which cover the island and the narrow roads which have little traffic. And it is especially ideal for all those who seek simplicity and uthenticity. The Meganisians, who love their island, are respectful towards the environment and take good care of it, preserving its features unadulterated.

This text is cited April 2004 from the Prefecture of Lefkada URL below, which contains images


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