Ionian Islands

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  Forty years ago, the Ionian islands were the forgotten islands. When people vacationed in Greece, they headed for the white washed Cyclades and the Ionian islands were left to their own splendor. Unfortunately that is no longer the case. It began in the 70ís with British tour operators booking and exploiting southern part of Corfu. This opened the door for tourism and by the late 1990ís the islands had a fairly well structured tourist structure.

   Corfu is by far the most visited. This is partially because Lawrence Durrell wrote stories about his childhood on the island and inspired millions of my generation to visit the island. It is also because there are daily ferryís that stop from Italy to Patras. Because of this 14 hour ride, many tourists stop over for a few days on the island. The rest of the islands vary in terms of the amount of tourist that visit it. Partially because of tour book operators favoring one island over others. Partially because of transportation connections. It is possible to start on Corfu and work your way south during the summer, however that does require perseverance and some degree of time.

   To give you some history about the islands, settlements have been found on the islands dating as far back as 50,000 B.C. These people most likely crossed via land bridges to the main land when during the last ice age when the water level was lower. All of the islands are in reality just the peeks of submerged mountains. The mountains are the result of plate tectonics as well as volcanic activity which gives them very fertile soil. Unfortunately, because they are so rugged, it is hard to grow anything on the islands. Ithika and Kefallonia are known for mainly goat farming as well as grapes.

   One can not mention the Ionian with out mentioning Homerís Odyssey. Odysseus, hero of the Odyssey spent ten years back to his beloved Ithica. Of course, almost every island claims to be the Ithika that Odysseus was from. However, the island of Ithica in the Ionian is thought to be Odysseusí Ithica because it matches Homerís description. It is believed that he set sail from Kefallonia though and that he visited Corfu on his journey home.

   The islands have known their share of invaders. It was mostly Venetian, French and English. Corfu, more than any other island, has remnants of these foreign invaders. Corfu, was also the island that they most wanted to hold on to.

   Since all of the islands have similar origins, they all have the same terrain. They are all very mountainous, though some get more rain than others due to whether patterns and rain shadows. They have both white sand and pebble (rock) beaches. They also all have impressive cliffs that overlook the some of the bluest water of all of Greece.

  During my last trip to Greece, I was only able to visit three of the islands. Corfu, Kefalloniá and Ithaca.

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Updated 12/31/99