Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Vasiliki, Lefkada, Greece



Vasiliki was hanging on my "places to visit" list since I started windsurfing. It was about time to check it out and see if it stands up with its reputation as one of the best windsurfing spots in the world. After a week spend there with my son Borna, I can confirm: yes, it does!

We took a ferry from Trieste (Italy) to Igoumenitsa (Greece). I grow accustomed to longish ferry travels. They are time consuming (some 30 hours with this one), but if you like it slow, in the company of some good book, watching amazing onboard sunsets and enjoying long talks with your travel mate(s), that is the right thing to do. In comparison with get-me-there-asap philosophy (which is an unfortunate consequence of modern living) this is more alike oldish way of traveling, with much time to think and adjust to enjoyable moments ahead.

Lefkada is officially an island, but you cross over with one short undersea tunnel and a 20 meters long pontoon bridge. After that, you enter the islands capital city, with the same name - Lefkada. We didn't spend much time there. It looks like very crowded topical Greek city, with lots of car, and no place to walk undisturbed, so we just give it a glance and drove through it.

Our navigational system directed us on the main road to Vasiliki, following the eastern shore of the island. However, following our own gut feeling, we decided to visit some famous beaches on the western side, like Milos beach, and (that one we did latter), Eregmni beach. The western side road is going over the hills, up and down, with lot of turns. But, if you are patient, you are rewarded with some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. And those beaches... My, o my! No, we didn't windsurf there, but that blueness which dazzle your eyes when you look at it from above, and makes you wish you lost your self in it, when you jump in to swim or dive... that is something special, indeed. The western beaches of Lefkada are abundantly decorated with white foam created by moderate swells breaking over their sandy shores.


Windsurfing

Deliberately or not, the bay of Vasiliki was created for windsurfing. It is protected by the hills, the beach is mostly sandy and the see is shallow some 100 meters from the shore, making it ideal for learning all kind of windsurfing skills, from beginners to advanced. The wind there is created each afternoon by local thermal differences. It blows down the hill on the western side, and it is quite regular. You can count on it each day, even if the rest of the island doesn't get any pressure wind at all.

The direction, however, changes from day to day, and also during the day. The usual, light to moderate wind is crosshore, so you can sail crosswind parallel with the western shore. Sometimes, it blows a little bit more from the northwest, and it seems a lot stronger. But, you get a smaller area for windsurfing, and a more offshore feeling.

Choppy it is, always. And gusty it is, always. But, it is not really an issue - it never gets annoying or tiresome. During my stay I never have seen anyone left on the see without a wind. You can always find your way back, especially if you mind the timing and respect the after 19:00 silencing down.

Those searching for flat waters and speed runs... well, you can find them in Vasiliki, but not everyday. You have to wait for a right direction (I would say, northwest is the best one). In that case, you have some 200 meters upwind, and more than a mile pure downwind! If you are lucky, and gusts are merciful, you can catch a great speed, no doubt. But, after that, prepare for a bumpy upwind sailing, directly through a lot of chop. (I was not lucky regarding gusts, and only two days out of seven, we got the right strength and direction - but +36 knots of speed was done with ease on 98 liters board and 7,0 sail).

For a regular windsurfer, though, Vasiliki is a real heaven. Mostly, you can see sails from 4,0 to 5,0. That means -  a lot of wind everyday. And that is all we need, isn't it? The be honest, the only thing I didn't like, goes with a place being so friendly and so uplifting as Vasiliki is: a lot of people. Sometimes, you have difficulty finding your way to clear space through a lot of windsurfing beginners near the shore. And there is simply no spot without a windsurfing sail, so you have to be always on guard for possible close encounters.

Along the shore there are many windsurfing centers; the most famous and with best choices of new boards and sails is, of course, Club Vass. Any freerider or freestyler will find there whatever s/he desires equipment wise. You can bring your own equipment and pay the storage, or, if you don't mind to rig it every day, you can easily park the car some 20 meters from the shore and spear some money. However, if you plan to windsurf every day, it could be somewhat tiresome activity, so better take the comfortable and more secure approach and join some of the Centers there. (Since it is never a good idea to teach windsurfing to your own kin, I left my son Borna in a good hands of the instructors of Quicksilver Windsurfing School.)






The food and the rest

Starting with the rest, Lefkada is typical Greek island with typical Greek activity. I can not say anything about the fun and the parties, but I am sure the ones who enjoy in such activity will find something for themselves. If nothing, each Friday night the Englishmen from the Club Vass will give you some kind of a surprise. You can enjoy in thematic costume party (pretending that you are cowboy or the Indian, old Greek or alien). Man, you can even "enjoy" the BBQ stuff without the costumes, if you are into it (as you can see on the photo).

But, we took more like daily approach to investigating the island. So, we found beautiful long beaches where you can be alone even if there is a lot of people on it. The special little something is a waterfall near the town of Nidri (20 minutes drive from Vasiliki). You can take the morning hike uphill (3,5 km), and arrive there when it gets hot - just for a nice, refreshing swim in the small lake beneath the waterfall. A rare opportunity given that it is a fresh water on the island.

Now, the food is usually excellent. There are taverns all around, and you can hardly make a mistake picking the one randomly, in Vasiliki or somewhere along the road. However, if you are a gourmand, as we are for sure, I have two recommendation for you. Both are placed in Nidri. The first tavern is called "The Barrel". Usually, I would not mention the prices, because, usually, it is understood that quality is expensive. But in this case, the prices are even lower than in the taverns around. But the taste of the food is much more refined.

The second recommendation is probably one of the best taverns, if not the best, on my Greek cuisine list. It is called "Ta Kalamia". Placed on the entrance of the main pedestrian area in Nidri, this tavern has a special "no menu" philosophy. That means, you can chose between four kind of dishes (vegetarian, see food, meat and mixed) and the cook - a genuine food artist by the name of Vanghel - will bring you his version of a perfect meal, made for you. Now, call it a rhapsody, call it a symphony, or a music made in heaven, but that is how his food taste like! If you ever come to Lefkada, Ta Kalamia, and Vanghel, the artist cook, is a must, at least for one night. But, I suppose, you will come for more, as we did. Love and food - that is written on the entrance to Ta Kalamia, and I have no doubt that you will find them both.


Conclusion

I have been there, and I will come again. :-)



2 comments:

  1. I'm going home tomorrow after one week with my son in Vass, and I've had about 20 minutes of total planingtime. For the whole week! Bad luck right? My son had a great week as a beginner though.

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  2. Sorry to hear that. The weather is unusual everywhere. I hope you used you time for biking, suping or just enjoying Lefkada. I was there this year from 18.05.-31.05. All in all, two days good windsurfing, but as you said, great for beginners. They had perfect condition (light wind every day) for learning and improving. BTW, Lefkada is great for hiking - couple of summons above 1000m with amazing view. I know, I know... it is not windsurfing, but... :-)

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