Lefkada by Car
Sat 7 Jul 2012 09:26
Position: 38.49.98N 20.42.78E
Tuesday 5th June 2012
We left the boat in our berth in Lefkas Marina and hired a car for a day to go and look round the island. The car was an old Fiat Punto but at least it had air conditioning. We had a map of the island and planned to go around the coast road and up into the mountains.
The roads have no numbers or names just the occasional sign post usually saying Sivota or Nidri or Lefkas. We needed petrol staight away as the tank was showing empty. The hire company are very laid back and just need to see a driving licence and your 30 Euros for the day. (No deposit). He was happy that we take it back the next day with same level of petrol in it! We took it back within the 24 hours and there easily more petrol left in it.
After finding a garage in Levkas because we dared not go into the mountains empty, we proceeded down towards the south of the island. It is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide so not really enough to get lost. However it was not so easy to follow the map and we had planned to go down the west side but ended up on the east side. It was lovely going past Ligia and Nidri and then Vlikho which we have only seen previously from the water. The road then climbed higher and higher and we saw a small sign indicating a cave. We took off down the track but it got quite narrow and pot holed until eventually it stopped altogether but at least there was room to park. We continued on foot and the smell of the herbs and wild flowers was strong. Unfortunately the cave which looked quite large was virtually inaccessible with the rough ground and dense vegetation around it. We didn't go in and walked back to the car.
Back up the track and a few miles further on we chose the road to Vassiliki. We have not taken the boat there as it is mostly frequented by wind surfers and small dinghies. It is windier as it is in the south west, next bay round from Sivota. We drove in to a small town and parked. We wandered along the wall and there were quite a few yachts there but it was also shallow in places.
We found a nice taverna beside the water and ordered omelettes and coffee. They came with tomatoes and bread and water as well so we enjoyed a larger lunch than usual. (We often just have fruit for lunch).
Back in the car and we wound our way up the west side of Lefkada. Higher and higher with quite good roads. The West side has some good beaches though not suitable for boats. We took a left turn down to Gialos Beach. The road was narrow and steep and very windy. We went 4 kms down the side of the steep mountain and the views of the beach and the sand were very inviting. We had our swimming gear with us. When we finally got down to the beach there were a few people there and a couple of camper vans too. But it was very windy and the waves high enough for surfing so we decided against swimming. The sand was really fine white pebbles and grit.
Back in the car and it struggled up the winding road almost threatening to give up at times. We got back onto the main road and quite suddenly came to a barrier. Typically Greek there was no warning, no explanation and no diversion signs but it was firmly closed. Two other cars turned around with us and we took the only other road north which was much steeper but we were rewarded with even higher views and fine looking mountains.
We came across another track to a beach and though we would try for a swim again. The track became steeper and steeper and just towards the bottom it ceased to be any sort of tarmac and turned into deep rutted mud and stones.. As we looked out at the stunning views we noticed a big black cloud scudding across the sea towards us. Realising that heavy rain would turn the track into an impassable torrent of mud and water we took the first little lay-by and turned around. Sure enough as we reached the tarmac again the first heavy drops began to fall. Then back on the main road it fell in buckets. Real tropical type rain and we had to pull over as we could not see and the windscreen wipers couldn't cope with it. The saddest thing was seeing the poor people on scooters and motor bikes who were pulled over and just soaked to the skin.
It didn't last too long and the sun came out again and the road steamed with rivers of water running down the sides. We carried on back to Lefkas and as we still had the car we did some shopping and then returned to the boat. We returned the car the next morning. We might do it again sometime and try to see some of the other places like a vineyard in the middle somewhere and the very bottom of the island where there is supposed to be a good fish restaurant. But for one day we had had enough exciting driving round hair pin bends and up and down rough tracks.
We are looking forward to seeing Susie on 17th June so will write more after that.
Best Wishes from Gilly B