Friday, 19 September 2008

Travelogue: Quest for Ithaka

Thanks to my good blogger friend Jackie of Visions of Kefalonia who also happens to be an extraordinary guide and a true credit to her profession, during my Kefalonian spell, I was voluntarily sweet-talked into visiting the homeland of the epic hero Odysseus (Ulysses), the neighboring island of Ithaka (Ithaca, Ithaki)...
Though only divided by a channel, at the first glance, not much to catch your eye other than the mysterious green mountain tops that embrace the island as well as many of its long forgotten secrets. I embarked the ferry to Ithaca, hoping to retrace some of Odysseus footsteps with the little help of our wonderful guide.

Little did I know, that after the first few minutes of the bus ride I was about to discover that Ithaka was much more than what it is credited for in the world, the home of Odysseus.
To make it short and simple: in my humble opinion, this magnificent island is everything Kefalonia should have been, had it not been scarred by tourism and the ignorance of the local authorities. First of all, it has luckily been spared by many great fires that had raged through its sister island. Probably why the first thing that strikes your eyes is : green, and more green.

Along with Kefalonia, Ithaka has been loved by Lord Byron of 19th century while modern poets like Kavafis and Christianopoulos have gifted Greek literature with great poems symbolizing the island with journeys and passion.

Furthermore, they have strongly conserved the architectural authenticity and unspoiled beauty. The little picturesque ports are dotted with yachts yet even during high season, the island remains as peaceful as back in the times of Ulysses. Having no water sources of its own, you'd consider it to be quite a barren island, but quite the contrary, you can't help but be mesmerized by the vast diversity of flora and so many charming villages harmoniously in bloom. There's no long, sandy beaches stuffed with umbrellas and Mitch Buchanon wannabes, just a great number of tiny, beautiful, intact, sparkling coves adorned with lush greenery. Unfortunately, that's as far as I got out of a one-day bus tour around the island. Fortunately though, it has surpassed all of my expectations. A small island, but a great memory!

The main port on the island of Ithaca is a secret place, invisible from the sea. Experienced mariners know which inlet to take to find its principal anchorage, a large bay with a simple name: Vathy, meaning "deep". It is an island particularly loved by sea captains, many of whom come to retire here. There are said to be 400 of them living on Ithaca today, many spending their days on the harbour front, drinking coffee and telling yarns. (Elizabeth Speller)

the crystal clear waters
A story told by the poet Homer created a mystery
that has taken 3,000 years to solve.

'' I T H A C A ''

As you set out for Ithaka hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery. Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon-don't be afraid of them: you'll never find
things like that on your way as long as you keep your thoughts
raised high, as long as a rare excitement stirs your spirit and your body...

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
(C.P.Cavafy / Kavafis, ''Ithaka'')
(one of the most distinguished Greek poets ever)

Now, the quest for Ithaca, in the eyes of many, has not yet been solved. There's recent rumors that the mythical home of Odysseus actually stands on the very island of Kefalonia, and there's actually a couple of destinations that perfectly fit the descriptions set in Homer's Odyssey. Does it really matter? Politics and tourism alone will always choose just the next best and most convenient truth. And mind you, the Greeks being one of the most welcoming hosts in the world will make up the most amazing stories just to feed it to your desperate wandering souls. But what you see with your bare eyes is a mystery that will hopefully never evaporate. The mystery of nature at its best ...

And to finish my short tour,
what better than Lord Byron's famous quote:
'' If I am a poet, the air of Greece has made me one. ''

17 komentari:

Jackie said...

Lovely tribute to the island Violet and as Odysseus you will return I am sure! I guess sooner than 20 years!
It was a pleasure to introduce you to Ithaki...happy memories!

Blognote said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and for your most kind comments, Viooltje!!
I visited yours and just had to tell you that I find the colours and composition of your photos stunning, which, together with the thoughts you express, make your blog very special. I will be back soon.

By the way: Viooltje is Small Violet in Dutch. Have you Dutch origins like I have?

Patsi said...

Lovely tour.
Your photos are stuning and you write like a poet.
Haven't spent much time in europe..England ,France and lived in Germany for a year.
I love the different cultures and the beauty they bring.
Thanks for visiting.
I'm still wish to read more of your blog.


Rowena said...

Looking at the images and all I can think of is how magical a place. The colors...stunning!

Now as to your comment about the owl (wink), the drawing does resemble Grissom! I had to look a few times between the two and then it became so obviously clear. The trick now is to find one that looks a 'Horatio'. I've got my husband on a sketching session...any ideas? ;-)

Amanda Thomsen said...

Thanks for the lovely message, I'm so glad you wrote it bcause it lead me to your gorgeous blog. I love your photos, bits of poetry and the post about the Magnolias... I'm going to put you in my links so I can check you out every day!
Yay! New bloggy friend!

Brenda Kula said...

Breathtaking photos!

GardenJoy4Me said...

What an Eden to visit Violet !
it seems almost unreal that such a beautiful place really exists. If I wasn't so wracked up with physical problems .. and the fear of flying after many flights in my life .. this would be the place that would draw me in ..
Gorgeous pictures .. wonderful narrative .. perfect !
Thank You !

Hunde Haus said...

Oh my gosh Violet!!!! What eye candy you have provided!! I soooo want to be there!

Absolutely gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely set of images. A real treat. It made me think of my trip to Corfu, many years ago. Well done,

Richard James

John said...

Photos are totally stunning..Really enjoyed my visit to your blog. Looking forward coming back..

Roses and stuff said...

Thank you for this interesting post about Odysseus and Ithaka! I can feel the wings of history...must have been a fantastic place to visit!

Susie said...

What a great post Viooltje. Loved the photos.

spookydragonfly said...

I so enjoyed my visit to your blog..,very interesting and beautiful photos! Love those dragonfly lights!! You may not have too many dragonflies, but I'll bet you have damselfies dancing around your pond if you look very close!! I'll be back to visit again!

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


beth said...

Interesting article. Must be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Loved every bit of your fab post just as much as I loved lingering about my beautiful Ithaki...

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