Things you should know!
Alykanas and Alykes are 2 resorts but only separated by a small canal like river, so they are only walking distance from each other.
Alykes adopted it's name from the salt works that are now known as the salt flats that years ago supplied the island with all it's salt.
Alykes is more compact than Alykanas with shops bars and restaurants side by side through the main streets, Alykanas is more spread out. It seems for some strange reason that whichever resort people holiday in first, they return to and favour year after year.
Both resorts have a strange enchantment and are so laid back that they almost fall over.
The choice of bars and restaurants in the resorts are never ending and you will struggle to find a bad one. The food here is excellent no matter where you eat and the choice of wines and cocktails from the bars are mind blowing. Local village wines flow freely and taste magnificent. From Coffee bars to music bars, the local people are so welcoming that you wont want to leave, and be sure, they wont make you!
The Greek people love children which makes family holidaying here a breeze.
It's a peaceful relaxing resort, so dont expect nightclubs and disco's as there are none here, but some of the younger bars have music to suit younger people, so they wont be bored.
All in all, if you need a relaxing holiday or even if you want to see some amazing scenery, this is the place for you.
I suppose that one of the most important aspects of your holiday is going to be the beach. The beaches in both resorts are beautiful. Alykes boasts a wider beach than Alykanas with a string of beach bars and restaurants along it, but Alykanas has a more tropical feel to it. It's your choice and the nice thing is that you do have a choice. Whilst staying in either resort the other is just a few minutes walk away.
At the moment you will pay about 7 euros a day for a pair of sunbeds and a parasol. Most of the sunbeds on the beaches in both resorts belong to adjacent hotels bars and restaurants so charge a fee for their use.
Alykanas beach has less in the way of buildings along it and is more unspoiled.
Both beaches have their own beauty and identity. You could almost be on a different holiday each day by alternating which beach you use, and resort too!
Other beaches in the area include the beautiful serene Shoestring beach (left) which is also known as old Alykanas beach. This stunning hidden little gem can be found by walking through the old village of Alykanas. As you reach the top of the as you are leaving the village you will see a spot with a stunning view of the bay of old Alykanas and Kefalonia island in the background. Just past this you will find the Shoestring restaurant where you can access this wonderful hidden cove of a beach. Spend a day there, walk back towards the village along the seafront and have some refreshment at the redskins bar, another hidden gem within the village area. I took this photo as the sun was coming up at around 6 in the morning on my way home from a night out at the Cuba Bar, trying to sober up on a sunbed. Luuuvley!!!!
Walking further past the Shoestring, maybe a mile or so will bring you into the resort of Amoudi. A part of unspoiled Greece. If you want a quiet stay on Zante, Amoudi is beautiful housing some lovely hotels and another beautiful beach. I will cover Amoudi further a little later.
I thought I'd get this out of the way now. I think that you are better forwarned as many people are a little taken back at the price of the goods in the shops here, especially English products.
It's not that the shops in the resort are trying to take advantage of you as much as visitors to the island may think. Zante is a relatively small island that imports most of it's goods. This is always costly and going to affect the pricing. Also, most resort supermarkets are only open 6 months of the year which affects the running costs and also has to be applied to the cost of the goods. The exchange rate and poor value of the pound at the moment, makes things seem worse. Prices in the area havn't increased for some time now. Locals have to keep these factors in mind, but the cost of goods will always seem to have increased if you look at what you got for your money a few years ago.
A tin of Heinz beans for example is around 1 euro to 1.20 euro. As the pound is almost 1 to 1 with the euro this makes the beans around a quid a tin!! this seems a lot, but you have to remember, somebody has to purchase this item in the UK and then they have the added cost of bringing them here. The cost of the beans hasn't risen in 3 years when the exchange rate was around 1.48 to the pound. At this exchange rate which made the beans about 68 pence a tin. nothing has changed here, the rates havn't increased, it's just at the moment the pound is low.
I advise you to bring what you can from the UK and just buy essentials here. OK, so beans are an example, but the same, you will pay around 4 euros for Coco pops, 3 for a loaf of English bread and 4.50 for a jar of Marmite. Nappies and things are very expensive here too.
The problem also can be the carraige of items. the airlines now only give you small luggage amounts and excess baggage cost have soared. Items like sun lotion and toothpaste can add to your luggage and affect the amount of clothing etc that you would like to bring. Buying these items in the airport after you have passed through into the departure lounge can be the answer to this, you've already had you hand luggage weighed!!
Dont be put off by these prices, just be aware of them. Eating and drinking out locally can be cheap compared to the UK over here, even now.
Please use the Calendar to inform us of your holiday arrival
Eating & Drinking out
an average meal here is around 7.50 euros for the main course and kids meals around 4.00 euros. Most places have deals with kids meals and offer maybe ice cream free after. You can find meals for 5.00 euros at some restaurants and good meals too.
Bottled beer is around 2,50 a pint and draught about 3,00. If you want British beers like John Smiths or Ciders like Strongbow or even Guinness they are going to be expensive as they are imported and expensive to buy here, but they are available in some bars.
Try to stick with local beers and wines and you will find it cheap to drink here and believe me, they are good beers and wines. Cocktails are available in most bars for around 3.50 but check that the cocktail you order is on offer at that price. Most are. Spirits are good value. You still get large measures for around 3.50 and usually over here the mixer is included in the price. Again, some spirits can be more expensive than others, please check the price before totting up a large bill. Local wines are around 2 euros a large glass and can be found for 1.50. a glass, half litre about 4 euros and 7 euros for a litre.
There is an all inclusive hotel in the area, but I believe it is a mistake to take all inclusive holidays in these types of resort, where half the fun of the holiday is eating and drinking out. Meeting the fantastic local people and making friends with them is what brings people back here year after year. Do you really want to miss this part of the culture that makes this place so addictive. Do you rally want to be tied, Butlins style to a complex? Save all inclusive for the countries where you are better off staying on the complex.
In and Around Zante
Zante is a large city which can be found in the Western area of Greece. Zante is the sixth Ionian Island and is actually the third largest of all the islands. To the south of Zante, you will find an area which is bordered by the deepest part of the Mediterranean Sea. The island was largely shaped by many earthquakes which happened in the region and as a result of this the terrain of Zante is very rocky with many steep cliffs and smaller island formations off of its shores. The west of the island is home to many stunning limestone cliffs which offer beautiful views out into the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea. Many islands are within travelling distance of Zante, including Cyprus which has many popular cities including protaras.
The island of Zante has a very rich history as do many of the islands in Greece and the surrounding area. In 150 BC, the island was conquered by the Romans and piracy was rife in the area, resulting in many violent deaths. Many Roman scholars took up residence on Zante, which helped to provide it with the rich cultural history it is proud of to this day. After this both the Byzantine`s and later the Venetians became prominent on the island resulting in many stunning pieces of architecture, some of which can still be viewed today.
The natural beauty of Zante is a big draw for tourists who love the mixture of sandy beaches, lush scenery and the rugged beauty of the many cliffs. There are lots of things for tourists to do whilst on the island no matter what kinds of things they are in to. The town centre is a great place to visit. It has been rebuilt on the ruins of the old town centre and many pieces of ancient architecture including the Solomos Square have been preserved for all to see.
To the east of the island there is a beach called navagio or shipwreck it is a cove which was famous in the past for its smuggling activity. The beach is very popular with tourist due to its sprawling white beaches and clear blue waters perfect for swimming or snorkelling.
The Blue Caves of Zante are an excellent example of natural architecture. They are one of the most surreal natural cave clusters you are ever likely to see and are definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
The church of Agia Mavra was built in the 14th century and is a stunning piece of architecture. It is generally considered one of the most important churches on the island of Zante and a place of much interest for tourists.
It is relatively easy to get to Zante these days with regulars flights from Athens available all year round. The flights from Athens generally take 45 minutes and are very comfortable. You may also get there by Ferries which depart from both Killini and Kefolonia. Zante is a great base to explore other areas and is a great start off point for people who are going on cheap holiday in Protaras as it can be reached easily from there.
Please bring your E 111 card with you when you visit here. The holiday companies will not advise you of your right to use the local Medical Center and I curse them for that!!! and people are being charged a fortune by the recommended Doctors. There is nothing wrong with the local doctors, but they are private and expensive. You are looking at 150 euros every time the doctor visits and believe me, even a sprained ankle can mount to 800-900 euros, we see it all the time.
At the medical center the doctors speak very good English and are very good and at the most it will cost you a taxi ride of about 5 euros each way and the cost of prescription. Please don't think that your insurance will help, because even if you are covered, and most are not for small inflictions, you will have to pay and claim your money back from the insurer.
If you are over and need a doctor, pop down and see us. We often run customers to the center, time permitting. Also, the Chemists here are quite highly trained and many things that you visit a GP for in the UK can be dealt with there. They will inform you if you need a doctor, so try this first, you may be surprised.
Food and Drink
The mains tap water here is not for drinking. The high mineral content of the water would most probably upset your stomach. Bottled water is relatively cheap here, so it is not worth taking a chance, however, we use the tap water to clean out teeth etc, but not to cook with although once boiled it is quite safe, it has a strange taste a it lends it to the food cooked in it.
Dotted around the villages you will find outside taps. These taps provide mountain spring water which is safe to drink according to locals, and has never harmed us. Most of the ice on the island is provided by companies that use drinkable water, so you should feel safe with most. If you are somewhere that has an ice machine like we do, ask if they use spring water to make the ice. We do. All the water at the Cosy Corner is mountain spring water as we have no incoming main, but we still use bottled water for food and drinks as most do.
Greek food is tasty and can be exciting to eat. Not over spiced but amply seasoned and spiced to give it character.
A few examples of the more popular Greek dishes to try are:
Traditionally baked with lamb. On Zakynthos Kleftico is a lamb stew usually baked and served in a clay pot topped with feta cheese and served with oven potatoes, which are divine by the way, and sometimes rice.
Most popular is beef Stifado, although it can be found on most menu's in a variety of meats including rabbit. Again, Stifado is a kind of stew, but the meat is cooked in a tomato and red wine sauce and laced with baby onions, bay leaves and cinnamon are added to spice the dish.
A bit like a lasagne without the pasta this. Mousaka is Minced beef layered between potatoes, aubergines and topped with a cheese Bechamel sauce. Sometimes Mousaka is served in a clay pot.
Usually Pork or Chicken, although can be found in some restaurants in other meat varieties. Souvlaki basically is a kebab or meat skewer that has been marinated in olive oil and thyme and is chargrilled and basted with lemon. It can be served as a meal or as a snack with a Greek pitta bread with chips and salad. Souvlaki can be a great takeout snack and is very cheap, around 1.20e a skewer.
Pronounced Yearos, You will see these great big Doner kebab style meat stacks in many restaurants, especially those providing take out meals. Usually available in Pork or Chicken, the gyros is probably the most popular take out snack there is. the spiced meat is cooked Doner style and sliced the same, served wrapped in a Greek pitta bread with chips and salad inside the wrap and all for about 1.80e. Bargain and very tasty too, especially after a few drinks when the munchies grab you.
There are many dishes to try and if you are adventurous you will be finding new flavours regularly.
Non Greek meals such as Spaghetti Bolognese and Cod and Chips are not as you know them. They are nice meals in their own right, but are not as you are familiar with them so if you are going to try them, expect them to be different.
Chinese, Indian and English food is available in the resorts for those who do not like foreign food or fancy a change during your stay, and don't be bullied by the fools who believe that you cant enjoy Greece if you don't eat the food, you are allowed to enjoy the sunshine, culture and people without having to enjoy the food.
Local wine is cheap and in abundance. Some of it is excellent but generally it takes a bit of getting used to. There are a few good wineries on the island whose wines take some beating, but I suggest trying the family brewed wines, they are potent though!!!
The national drink of Greece is Ouzo. Ouzo is an aniseed flavoured spirit very similar to Pernod. Delicious served with water, lemonade or just ice to finish an evening meal.
Metaxa is the Greek brandy that everyone knows, but is not the same as french brandies, it has it's own unique flavour.
Eating and drinking out is a major part of the enjoyment of coming to Alykanas or Alykes. Enjoy!
Driving on the Island
The opposite to the UK, we drive on the right here.
If you haven't used a left hand drive car before, don't worry, you soon get used to it.
Hiring a car is the best way to get around the island and see the things you want to see. Excursions can work out expensive and you have no control over time.
The roads here are generally small and quiet. You will struggle to find a traffic jam.
There is one main road on the island which a part of it is a dual carriageway. This road runs between Zante town and Katastari, the neighbouring village to Alykes.
There are many fantastic sights to see on Zakynthos, small beach coves, mountain roads with fantastic views and beautiful hillside and countryside drives.
You will need a valid full driving licence to hire a car. I recommend that you check internet prices before leaving the UK if you intend to hire for the duration of your holiday and you can pick up your car from the airport, but if you only require a car for a few days, then hire in the resort.
Car hire prices are quite good at the moment, especially in off peak times. the average price for a small car off peak in the resort is about 30euro a day, but can be even cheaper if you are prepared to shop around.
Scooter and Quad hire is available in the resort and plentiful too. it's worth checking internet prices before leaving the UK you might get a great deal. I know many people that did last season. I'm not sure what the licence requirements are for scooters and quads but I will find out and update this article.
If you would like a price for either Car, Scooter or Quad hire for next season, please message me.
Smoking and the Greek Smoking ban
I think that by the beginning of next summer season, attitudes might change. Some may take the risk, but as soon as someone is ticketed in the resorts, I think things will change. There are some small bars that have exemption stickers that stem from the first ban, but nobody is sure whether these still hold water.
It is OK for bar owners to allow you to smoke in their establishments, but be warned, unlike the UK the smoker will be fined as well as the business owner and fines for smokers can be up to 500 euros, a big lump out of your spending money.
It will be interesting to see what the new year brings.