Lovidis Village - (Accommodation in Lourdas)

Abbigail H          8/10

click to enlarge

My mum and I have just returned from the Lovides Village Apartments where we had a weeks holiday from 29 June to 6 July and found them to be excellent on the whole.  Lovides is situated in an excellent location in Lourdes, right between the old part (Lourdata) which is located to the left down the hill and at the bottom you will find the beach.  Too the right is the long straight horizontal road where you will find the majority of the supermarkets, tavernas and a couple of bars.  Its worth the trek down the hill half way to teh beach to reach the old part of Lourdes and the 'square' (Lourdata).  There is a little old taverna on a hillside there run by a very friendly Welsh guy an his Greek wife and the locals congregate their to discuss the state of the world.  Its a little step back in time and worth the visit, perhaps in the evening when its cooler and less hard work to walk back up the hill!

Lovides is a little village of apartments set slightly off the main road up a small incline.  The apartments face towards the ocean and some have better views than others.  The village itself is generally quiet and serene and lovely to sit and watch the sunset from with the breathtaking mountain backdrop behind you.  Our apartment was right at the back (C block) and we were on the second floor (see picture attached, view from our balcony).  I was surprised by the excellent standard of accomodation.  Our room had a small kitchenette area as you entered the door to the right and on the left a good sized bathroom with toilet, good size sink and mirror above and best of all an excellent shower with hot/cold water and the cubicle itself was a seperate built up floor area with curtain.  There was also a hairdryer fitted to the wall!
The balcony was an excellent size and segregated descreetly from your neighbour.  The chairs were a little uncomfortable if you have bare legs though - I'd advise a towel to cover them!
The room itself was well furnished, two good sized single beds side by side, a chair (which I think may also turn into a bed for a third/child), a big wardrobe, two drawers, two tables, two stools.  The cutlery is very basic indeed but function - a couple of pans, knives/forks/spoons, plates, a couple of glasses - no bottle or can opener though.  There is hob rings but no cooker or kettle - we easily heated water in the morning by pan to make coffee/tea.  The fridge was excellent - a good size and a little freezer compartment which can easily store a 1.5L bottle of water overnight to take out with you on adventures the next day.  Best of all though you can drink the water from the tap!!  This was verified by our Olympic Rep, Rhiannon (who is also excellent, friendly and very knowledgeable) as we arrived.  We havent been to Greece for a couple of years so maybe this is standard now but its news to us and it was great - no dragging heavy water back to your apartment all the time!
 
Our apartment was only cleaned once mid-week and the towels and sheets changed.  The notice on the back of your front door will say twice a week however.  We are quite tidy so it didnt bother us but people with children might have to have a word.  We had a mop and broom on our balcony in the corner though and found it handy to sweep the bathroom through after showering to stop the tiles being slippery.
 
The apartments themselves I would guess are fairly new and in excellent condition and very pretty indeed - terracotta walls and roofs surrounded by palm trees, palms and flowers and grassy areas - very well kept.  It has a lovely safe holiday village feeling - residents are also very friendly and always say 'hello' as you pass by.  Mostly we found the village and Lourdes occupied by couples of all ages and families and couples of friends.  The balconies have glass doors as well as metal vented shutters and we confess we left both open during the day to air and felt it was safe to do so.  There is however no safe for valuables so excersize your own common sense as you feel fit.
 
I'd recommend going to your welcome meeting - Rhiannon is not pushy at all and extremely knowledgeable about the island.
 
The pool area is lovely, a good size pool (it slopes down a little suddenly in the middle, take care) and has a shaded area under roof where the bar is located (also a reception area for questions etc), television, books/magazines to read.  Katerina and her children speak excellent English and are very helpful.  The food is a bit basic and limited - the Greek salad was lovely but other than that its toasted sandwiches, chips, pizzas.  Ice creams also in the freezer but excellent drink selection - all kinds of spirits, cocktail at 5 Euros each, Amstel on draft in frozen glasses is highly recommended at only 2.5 Euros for a large pint.
 
Only a few downsides to the Lovides:
Firstly I should mention there is construction work still going on which Olympic did not warn us about.  A JCB is located to the left side of the village next to the pool - they move earth around in the mornings and evenings.  One couple of ladies mentioned to me they were working at 6.30am one morning and we noticed them again at 7pm when we went out to dinner.  I think they give up when it gets too hot.  Luckily we were located in C block to the right and heard it only in the distance but it all depends where your apartment is.
Secondly water flow from the taps can be interrupted - it was only on two nights when we returned to our apartments at 10:30pm ish to find that there was no water from the taps in the bathroom or kitchen, not a drop.    The loo however did still flush?  One resident advised us it was due to a pressure problem they were endeavouring to fix.  We showered before we went out that night so it didnt really bother us since we had water chilling in the fridge to drink and water ressumed as normal the next morning.  If you have young children though this is useful to be aware of.
The owner appeared to have a couple of young boys aged approx 8 or 9 and they had a motorbike.  On a couple of evenings at around 7pm I'd be reading on my balcony and they would drive their motorbike across the grass, back and forth again and again inches from the balconies on the ground floor and in inbetween the apartment blocks which was very frustrating and noisy.  It did only happen a couple of evenings but if it became a regular occurance or went on into the evening I'd be inclined to mention it to Rhiannon or the owners.
You also only get one flat little pillow which is a little sad.  I'd recommend propping it up with the blankets located on top of your wardrobe which will give you a bit more height if needed.  Just a tiny thing really for comfort.
We flew from Bristol and arrived in the early hours which meant that coming home we were told to vacate our room at 11am prior to being picked up by the coach to the airport at 8:45pm.  Thats a long time with no room.  Luckily we lazed by the pool by day where there was shade if needed and our neighbours (Ian and Susie from Croydon, hello guys! ) were so very kind as to let us borrow their room to shower early evening so we could change in privacy and have a bite to eat all clean and refreshed prior to boarding the coach.  There are showers pool side but there was no room provided, and suitcases had to be left poolside all day long.  We are so grateful to Susie and Ian, thank you so much if you are reading, as my mum is 71 and it made all the difference to her.
 
Generally though we had little to complain about staying at Lovides and it was a lovely week an we would return there even though we like to explore a new Greek Island each year.  The setting was lovely and complimented in tradition by the tinkling of goat bells gently in the mornings and evenings as the resident herd went out for the day and then came in on an evening.
 
Eating out..... When staying at Lovides you are in the middle of the resort.  A shortcut to the tavernas is to turn right out of the apartments and pass the pool and walk to the end of the road.  Then turn right again.  The road turns a little gravelly but its still walkable in flip flops, its not bad.  The road bends around to the left sharply and you stay on it and follow it to the end.  On the way you will see Andromeda restaurant on your right up the steps (we heard it was good, a little more expensive than the others though) and then at the bottom is the best restaurant of all - SPIROSWe ate there on 4 evenings it was so good and everyone we spoke to agreed!  Its only about 100m from the apartment and has scenic views of the ocean and is beautifully set outside but under cover with an olive tree between the tables and under umbrellas in places.  The staff are so friendly and you couldnt ask for better service, it was immense.  For Greek authentic food & lovely fresh fish its a must - please do try the fillet of sole stuffed with seafood (baby squid, mussles & prawns) this dish was stunning!!!  I had Stamaki which I've not seen before on my Greek travels - big a casserole of tender chunks of lamb with a tasty greek herby tomato based sauce and vegetables and topped with melted cheese - yummy! They also do excellent pasta dishes, the bolognaise was really lovely and other grilled & UK foods for the less adventurous. Generous but not over the top portions. The appetizers were also gorgeous - try the mezze which is really unusual even though it had chips - a little bit of everything, lovely cheese pies.  If ordering seperate starter the calimari is to die for!  
Klimatis Taverna is right down on the beach but worth the trek... so friendly and a lovey setting looking right out on to the beach with a alfresco dining under a roof of vines and a bounty of hanging grapes.  The food again was stunning and really enjoyable.  It was very popular too - one lady we spoke to had her birthday there and they made her a gorgeous cake of chocolate and orange!
Dinonysis is also good down the hill towards Lourdata about 100m - very friendly and a lovely garden to the rear although the Kleftico had the neck of lamb (with bones) rather than chunks of meat, but still very tender. 
Inonysis as you turn right at the main road and right along about 800m was a little more expensive but the view was stunning across the bay as the sun set - the service could be more polished, we had to ask twice for a glass of water, but the Becre Meze (tender chunks of beef in greek tomato based sauce) was absoutely gorgeous & two of the tenderist pieces of beef - almost fillet steak!  I requested potatoes with it instead of chips but was told this was not possible  so I had rice instead.  Apart from that, this dish was superb.
 
The beach....  well believe what you have read about the climb down to the beach, its a monster of a hill.  It winds downwards, slowly at first and then steeper (very steep in places) towards the bottom nearing the beach.  We walked down one morning and it was hard work at the bottom (my calves really felt it and I'm only 32 and quite fit!).  Walking up though - crazy, seriously.  We tried it and nearly passed out half way up .  Its not so much the hill - it is steep and quite long but it could be done if it were not for the heat.  Before the sun rise and after it sets it would be ok.  There are benches you could stop at along the way if need be and have a rest.  But in 32 degree heat (which is what we just came back from) its a formitable effort only for the brave hearted and 6 times a week gym goers.
 
Instead get a bus for only 1 Euro each way, which goes along the main road in Lourdes at 10:15am and 11:15am - walk down the brief hill from Lovides towards the main road and you can flag him down there if you dont want to walk to the bus stop.  He stops just short of the beach, there is a brief climb to get back up to the bus stop where he drops you off - he'll pick you up at 2:45pm and 6pm.  He is usually on time and running mostly - we found a notice up the day he was not running so for Greece, this is pretty reliable!  Otherwise a taxi is about 6 euros but there are no taxi ranks, you will have to ask Lovides bar/reception to order you one.
 
The rest of the island... a hire car is highly recommended to get around and see this beautiful island - Kefalonia is one of the most beautiful I've seen so far and I've been to quite a few now.  Its green, lush, friendly and there is lots to see despite the earthquake.  The beach at Skala is gorgeous and you dont have to climb down a cliff to get to it - okay its a very fine shingle with sand but to be honest thats a lot cleaner than sand that sticks to you constantly and its very fine and walkable and the waves are so calm there you can sit in it by the shore and watch the world go by, perfect for children.  Lourdes beach had stronger waves which could actually knock you off your feet if you were infirm or a child.  Sami was a lovely harbour worth visiting, we had the best meze ever at the taverna on the shore down the very end of the harbour when you turn left.  Stunning.  Portos was ok, not so friendly atmosphere and a tiny beach, more of a port.  Drive up in the mountains for stunning views where every you go to get to the tomb of St Gerominis and the incredible church they re-built in the 90s after the earthquake - also pop into the wine tasting factory next door to sample he Robola.  The roads themselves are worth the drive to see the abundance of vineyards and mountain landscapes and roaming goats.
 
Money.... be aware there is no cashpoint or bank in Lourdes.  You will need to go into Agostolli for this.  However, CSR the car hire place near La Mer restuarant, does a good exchange rate of Sterling into Euros.  But if you get stuck the Lara Hotel (on the road about 200m before you get to the beach) will apparently take cards and give you Euros of smalls amounts i.e. 100 Euros or less.
 
Hopefully we have covered everything that we learned on our week in Lourdes and hopefully it might give you a head start to making the most of your holiday  Enjoy!!

Lourdas Beach - (Beaches on Kefalonia)

Abbigail H          7/10

click to enlarge

This was a very nice beach, possibly it doesnt compete with some of the other amazing beaches along this coast line but if its local to you its worth the visit.  The main problem is the very steep hill down to it.  If you are staying in Lourdes be warned it is a very steep slope towards the bottom and is quite hard work down - mind going up if you're on foot.  My mum (71 yrs) and myself (32) walked down in the morning and tried to walk up.  We nearly passed out, I kid you not.  Its not so much the hill, which would be quite hard work any other time but its the heat - we've just returned from an average of 32 degrees which is great - but not when you are climbing!
 
The bus goes at 10:15 am and 11:15 am from the top of the hill, you can flag him down too.  He drops you near the bottom as he cant turn around and picks you up from the same point at 2:45 pm or 6 pm.  Its only 1 Euro and well worth it!  Otherwise a taxi is 6 euros each way roughly.
 
Plenty of parking though if you have a car. The traffic is very limited to be honest, we found it didnt disturb us at all.  For the best parts of the single and sand beach drive along to the left as you reach the bottom of the hill.  There is a lovely restuarant called Klimitis near the end and a supermarket next door with just about everything.  The waves get very strong later in the afternoon and would knock a child or the elderley off their feet so be careful.  But generally its lovely and clean.  There is a tiny beach at the very end which looked nice but we didnt go too far down due to the JCB moving earth around down there.  Check out the little gardens inbetween the tavernas and apartments though - so sweet and right by the sea road!

Dionysis Restaurant - (Restaurants in Lourdas)

Abbigail H          6/10

Located on the road towards the beach but only about 25m down the hill and around the corner past Muses Cafe...a lovely restaurant with air conditioning and a sweet little olive grove garden out the back which was refreshing and cool if there is a table free - worth a peek as you arrive.  We had calimari and vine leaves to start which were both generous and stunning.  We then asked for some olives to nibble and a huge plate of kalamata olives arrived!  Lovely.  My mum had the Kleftico which she very much enjoyed, very tasty and a good portion, the only critisism was that it was a neck of lamb to be picked off the bone whereas elsewhere we experienced lovely tender chunks of lamb without bone.  I had the mousakka which was a little bit of a let down as I could see it was an old piece that had been warmed up - the mince had little flavour and the aubergine was skimpy and shrivelled and the potato on top was browned inside and limp.  Bit of a shame because other than that the rest of the meal was lovely, with lovely wine too and reasonable.  The waitress was sooo sweet to - she gaves us a rose before we left and chatted away to us.  We visited on a Monday but no live music so I guess you need to watch out for a notice or something to catch it. 

Inopolis Restaurant - (Restaurants in Lourdas)

Abbigail H          7/10

Inopolis Restaurant is located towards the far west of Lourdes on the main road.  It is worth the walk along on an evening for the stunning views alone. 

On a hill looking out across the bay of Lourdes, this restaurant you enter off the road at the front and walk through the eloquent inside surroundings and at the back you will see everyone has ventured towards the outside mezzanine area.  Get there early to get the best seat right at the edge of the large balcony for the most amazing view watching the sun set.  Absolutely stunning view.
 
However, the service could be better; we had to ask twice for a glass of water to go with a Greek coffee (which is traditionally always served with water anyway).  We tried several times to catch the waitress' attention to get the bill too.  The one waitress working forgot and appeared to struggle to cope on her own.  The food was excellent though.  I had the Becre Meze (large and tender chunks of beef in greek herb tomato sauce) was absoutely gorgeous & two of the tenderist pieces of beef - almost fillet steak standard.  A generous portion too. However, being a Greek dish I requested potatoes to accompany it instead of chips but was told this was not possible.  I was then offered rice instead which I accepted. Apart from that, this dish was superb. My mum had the chicken in a pot (cant remember the name) with vegetables which was very nice and tasty, if somewhat boney though.

Spiros Restaurant - (Restaurants in Lourdas)

Abbigail H          10/10

click to enlarge

This is one of the best restaurants I've visited during my travels of the Greek Islands over the past 8 years and I cant praise it enough!!  I am very puzzled by the previous comments on this restaurant and this is why....

We ate there on 4 evenings it was so good and everyone we spoke to agreed! It is centrally located in Lourdes on the main road opposite the jewellery shop and has scenic views of the ocean.  It is tranquilly set outside for al fresco dining but under cover with an olive tree between the tables and under umbrellas in places. The staff are so friendly and you couldnt ask for better service, the lady and more mature gentleman serving (I think may be Spiros) were accomodating and described the dishes excellently.  They were friendly and attentive without being intrusive.  If you venture into the restaurant kitchen where the till is to pay your bill (which you are welcome to do if paying by card or are in a rush) you will see the family preparing the food for everyone to see and chatting away to each other - delightful.
 
For Greek authentic food & lovely fresh fish its a must - please do try the fillet of sole stuffed with seafood (baby squid, mussles & prawns) this dish was stunning!!! I had Stamaki which I've not seen before on my Greek travels - big a casserole of tender chunks of lamb with a tasty greek herby tomato based sauce with vegetables and potato and topped with melted cheese - yummy!
On another evening we tried the swordfish - a beautiful tender big piece fresh from the sea.  I also experienced the meatballs - 3 large filling meatballs spiced with Greek herbs and a rich tomato sauce.  Our neighbours tried that too and they loved them also, highly recommended. 
They also do excellent pasta dishes, I fancied the bolognaise was evening and it was really lovely if you would like something a bit more simple and other grilled & UK foods for the less adventurous. Try to be brave though and indulge the Greek part of the menu, absolutely gorgeous.  Very generous but not over the top portions. The appetizers were also fabulous - try the mezze which is really unusual even though it had chips, look past that to the lovely variety of different things - a little bit of everything, lovely little cheese pies. If ordering seperate starter the calimari is to die for, a big plate of generous lightly battered tender squid.
 
The Greeks, as do many countries in the med, do favour olive oil.  You will see this in their dishes.  Try not to be frightened of it - scientists have proved this is part of the reason the Greeks are far healthier than us westerners.  Mix the olive oil on your plate with the light vinegar provided and dip your bread in it - much heathier than the butter we favour in the UK and its very tasty.  Whilst in Greece... do as the Greeks do... maybe you'll learn how they live longer than we do!  People mistake the food as greasy but its not to be honest, its simply the virgin olive oil they use in cooking which gives their potatos and food a sunny glow.  Its traditional and its healthier than our butter and our packaged food full of additives and bad fats, embrace the culture and remember you are not in the UK.
 
On top of this the restaurant was very busy every night and one of the most reasonable in Lourdes - only 4.20 Euros for a litre of white wine served in their traditional jug - lovely gentle wine to accompany any meal.
 
Look out for the black and white cat who is subtle and patiently mills about the tables for any generousity she can tempt from you - almost as cute as the little black kitten her accompanies her and who is adorable and loves to be cuddled if you let her know you like cats and show her some attention.  Bless.
 
I must visit, I cant speak highly enough - thank you Spiros and family for such excellent food and evenings.

Blue Sea Restaurant - (Restaurants in Lourdas)

Abbigail H          8/10

We stopped here for lunch and found it to be very nice.  We both had Greek salads which had a two reasonable sices of feta topped with oregano.  The salad beneath was fresh, crisp and tasty.  We didnt experience a main meal here but we couldnt fault our salads - the service was prompt and the waiters attentive.  A nice view across the sea too.  I'd recommend it for lunch or something light.

Greek Islands - (Restaurants in Lourdas)

Abbigail H  (July 08, 2008)        7/10

A lovely friendly restaurant whose owner was very honest indeed when we asked if the fish was frozen or not.  My mum had the fish anyway and thoroughly enjoyed it.  We shared the skin with a patient little cat who was very grateful but unfortunately this attracted another 3 cats who were not so well behaved and the poor owner had to shoe them away!  We felt very guilty.  But the fish was excellent.

I had the seafood risotto which wasnt so great unfortunately - it was long grain rice instead of arborrio so not a real risotto and the seafood was scarce, only a tiny amount of squid and a couple of mussles and prawns.  For the serving I guess it wasnt badly priced though.
 
Other than that it lacked a sea view that so many other tavernas in Lourdes benefit from but we couldnt fault the service.

Klimatis Restaurant - (Restaurants in Lourdas)

Abbigail H          9/10

Klimatis Taverna is located on the beach but worth the trek... so friendly and a lovey setting looking right out on to the ocean.  Alfresco dining under a roof of vines and a bounty of hanging grapes.

We ate at lunchtime and had stuffed peppers and vineleaves, both was stunning and really enjoyable. It was very popular too - one lady we spoke to had her birthday there and they made her a gorgeous cake of chocolate and orange!
 
What we experienced on a lunchtime was lovely, highly recommended and excellent friendly service too.

Fiat Seicento - (Hire Cars on Kefalonia)

Abbigail H          9/10

For a small car we were very pleasantly surprised - she climbed the mountain roads with ease and turned the hairpin corners in second with the effort you'd expect from a much more powerful car.  I drive a large Honda 2.2 at home so I was surprised how well it went.  No air con on these models but thats what windows are for - take in the Greek air!! 

CBR - (Car Rental on Kefalonia)

Abbigail H          10/10

Martin (who is Engish) provides an excellent service - clean and serviceable cars and a happy disposition with each one!  He gave us a map and was happy to give advice and answer any questions we had.  A full and excellent service explain in every detail and this is imporant - fully comprehensive insurance cover - note that most claim this but what you actually get in our terms is third party.  So if you come back to find a dent in your hire car (and be aware the Greeks drive like nutters) then you dont have to worry. 

The Pines - (Restaurants in Skala)

Abbigail H          8/10

On our adventure around the island by car we stopped at Skala and had lunch at The Pines before heading to the beach.  It was a very hot day and we came across this restaurant at the bottom of the main street, opposite the sea through a few pine trees.

A good variety on the menu, maybe a fraction more expensive than other places we saw.  We had the meze and it was lovely - vine leaves, little meatballs, cheese pies, saganaki - all of which was described by the efficient waiter.  Clean, lovely setting and good food.  We had a good lunch.

Poros - (Exchange Rates on Kefalonia)

Abbigail H          10/10

I took out Euros from the AlfaBank which was on the main road in Poros and there was no charge at all for withdrawing and I got an excellent rate of exhange too.