The Saga of Seven Greekophiles Part 1

Here we are, back in the Greek islands, one of our favourite places to be!  I mention in the title the term ‘Greekophile’, for someone who admires anything Greek, its culture, its food, its music, etc.  The actual term should be ‘Philhellene’, which comes from the Greek φιλέλλην, from φίλος – philos or friend, lover, and Ελλην – Greek.  Basically, I’m talking about a bunch of us who love Greek food, drink, music and especially, the Greek islands.

So this story is about one of our travels to a Greek island, Zakynthos, told a different way -mainly in a poem.

A few words about Zakynthos:  (Ζακυνθος)  is a beautiful island in the Ionian Sea, to the west of mainland Greece.  This location makes the island much greener than the Cycladic islands further east in the Aegean.  It was also known as the ‘Flower of the Levant’ by the Venetians, who occupied the island for a few hundred years.

It lies in a very active seismic zone and during the month of August, 1953, the area experienced over 113 earthquakes.   A 7.3 earthquake came on August 12 which destroyed most of the buildings on both this island , and several others around it.  This earthquake raised the entire island of Kefalonia over 60 cm. (25 inches) , and killed hundreds of people.  They have rebuilt most of the buildings under new rules, which appear to have made them more resistant to earthquakes.

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Several years ago, we were planning another trip to a Greek island.  At first, we thought this time, we’d return to Corfu, a lovely place that we had visited before, filled with history, scenery and great food.  For years, we had been meeting my niece Jackie and her husband Martyn from England, and spending some time with them, as they just have to take a short plane trip from England to meet us on one of the islands.  As we talked about Corfu, Jackie learned that the garbage situation on the island was out of control, so we changed our mind and decided to go to Zakynthos, (Zante in Italian) another beautiful island in the Ionian Sea.

It began with Diana and I, then our neighbours in our ‘Tsawwassen Greene’ condo, Bill and Jan, said they would like to go with us.  Our friend Sheila in Kelowna heard about this and asked if she could come.

So here’s how it developed:

To tell you the saga of our trip to Greece,

I’ve written a poem, it’s quite a long piece.

If you listen carefully to this little tale

to make you laugh it should not fail.

At first it was only Diana and Ian to fly,

But they finally convinced Jan and Bill to try,

As they planned their hotels, flights and more,

They then became the ‘Tsawwassen Greene Four.’

When Sheila from Kelowna heard of this,

It was something she didn’t want to miss,

“So count me in” she said, quite alive,

They then became the ‘Fabulous Five’.

As time went on and the plans took shape,

Jackie from England checked out the landscape.

It appeared that Corfu was no longer our pick,

As the garbage piled high made our visit sound sick!

We worked all together to find a place we would want,

and settled on Zakynthos, the ‘flower of the Levant’

An Ionian island with history galore

we looked at its features and couldn’t ask for more.

The night before we left, to get into the mood,

We invited Bill and Jan over for some tasty food

In addition to that, a couple of bottles of wine

made us all laugh as we watched ‘Shirley Valentine’.

It was end of August when they all set sail,

on a vessel called Westjet, with a logo on its tail.

next stop was Gatwick, their first port of call,

where an over-night stay gave some rest to them all.

The next day they continued, by Easyjet this time,

to our island of Zante, where the landing was fine.

Their host picked them up, to the hotel did go

Jackie and Martyn waited with cold drinks to show.

The meeting was delightful, and they all had fun

greeting each other, keeping the waiter on the run.

They all decided that this was like heaven,

and so they became the ‘Magnificent Seven’.

Our Magnificent Seven from Author Ian Kent
Our Magnificent Seven

The first day we spent as a day of rest

with time in the restaurant for the food we love best

Some time was spent outside in the pool

and time on the beach, where the breezes were cool.

Diana & Ian in the sun by author Ian Kent
Diana & Ian in the sun
Jackie & Martyn enjoying the sun from Author Ian Kent
Jackie & Martyn enjoying the sun

We all agreed the breakfasts were great

As well as the lovely room where we ate,

eggs, sliced meats, cheeses, yogurt and fruit

water, coffee, tea and juices to boot.

The good beetroot salad was in short supply

forcing the group other salads to try

Fried cod, lamb chops and moussaka were good

reinforcing our love for real Greek food.

To try the Tsipouro only Martyn did dare

Jan took a sip and it curled her hair

Others drank water, coke, wine and beer

While desserts and ouzo were supplied free(er).

cristos & kostas waiters, from Author Ian Kent
Our waiters, Christos & Kostas

A group went to Argassi town in a cab

To arrange our tours and prepay the tab

First an island tour in a safari jeep,

Then a glass bottom boat sailing over the deep.

The rental cars arrived at the hotel on time

one was for Martyn, the other was mine.

A  Hyundai i20 with automatic transmission

to tour the island we had their permission.

After meals in the restaurant the Filoxenia was there

with  tsipouro and ouzo, and masticha to spare

they gave us free treats of sugar and spice

and sometimes tentura, and the service was nice.

Our Safari Land Rover from Author Ian Kent
Our Safari Land Rover

Then came the day of our safari with a jeep

actually a Land Rover that made us weep

with one in the front and six in the rear

crammed in a steel box with seats that brought tears.

Our driver was Spiros, a Greek by his look

who had driven a bus for Thomas Cook.

To him all the roads were alike

whether by car, truck, jeep or a bike.

Those in the rear suffered the ride

with steel sides and seats pounding our hide

at every rock and pothole our bodies bounced high

then we fell with a force that made us cry.

Regardless of the suffering and the pain

we enjoyed it a lot and would do it again.

Jan was hanging on, a big grin on her face

hollering “Yahoo” as we continued the race.

Jan yelling “Yahoo!” from Author Ian Kent
Jan yelling “Yahoo!”

The stops were a blessing, for not only the sights

but the relief for our bodies to make everything right.

Picturesque villages and ancient olive trees

added to the interesting  sights to please.

Ancient Olive Trees from Author Ian Kent
Ancient Olive Trees

As we continued our journey, at the island’s high spot

we picked up a Czech hiker, more exhausted than not.

He apparently had hiked from the village below

for four hours of torture and nowhere to go.

. . . to be continued . . .


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