Upstairs / Downstairs
Vathy spreads from the harbour to the hills around. The main streets and nearly all the tourist activity runs around the main square that is by the harbour.
But if you happen to rent a room in a house that is up the hill, you'll have to climb up and down the stairs a few times... anyway, the furthest point is about 10 minutes walking!
Bay of Dexa
This little beach just below the Cave of the Nymphs is a wonderful quiet place for a swimm. It's got a Blue Flag of the EC, a food stall, and clear waters.
Here is where the Phaeacians disembarked and laid the sleeping Odysseus on the sand.
Your eyes aren't lying
Ithaki is a small beautiful island that is not nearly as popular as its neighbor, Kefalonia. That's a good thing in my opnion. It lacks all of the amenities (hospital, one small sand beach) of more touristy spots, but is comfortable and serene nonetheless. I spend several weeks here during the summer and loved it, despite sweltering heat. Unfortunately this was pre-digital camera days for me, so I don't have any pictures of the island. I believe that another member, Sir Richard, does have several up on his page.
The main town of Ithaki is settled in a quiet cove. The town was virtually rebuilt after the last major earthquake (about 50 years ago), so there are few old buildings. In 2000 during my visit the town was finishing restoring its plaka. This was definitely the heart of the area with its location right on the water and amongst the largest concentration of commercial buildings and restaurants.
Ithaki did seem to be popular with the sailing crowd. Its docks were consistently filled with boats stocking up on provisions and enjoying some time on land. I also saw many boats anchored around the island in its many quiet nooks.
The Arethousa Fountain
"A literary place"
The Arethousa Fountain is named in the Odyssey, that book from Homer that tell the comeback journey from Troy of the Greek King Ulisses (Odysseus) to his island, Ithaki.
It is the place where Ulisses meets his pork sheperd Eumeo after finally returning to the island.
It is one of the few homeric places you can visit in Ithaki. Is located in the south-east part of the island.
The nearest town is Vathy, the capital. BUT there is no bus or any other public transport going there, neither touristic excursions. You have 2 choices:
A.- Walk all the way there (1 and a half hours).
B.- Take a taxi (or rent a motorbike) to the nearest place on the road and walk 1/2 hour from there.
I took the hard way... ;-)
"1 hour walking by a lonely road"
There are no signs indicating the way to the Fountain. So you'll have to ask in town. Is the road that leaves from the petrol station, in the south of Vathy. 500 metres further take RIGHT, go up a bit and there you are, on the way!
You better go early in the morning or just before sunset if it's summer, as is terribly hot!
Is a lonely narrow road, very quiet and with nice olive landscapes. Once in a while you find these green grasshoppers, that use to eat each other like in this pic...
"Take some water"
You better take some water for the road, as there is no fountain (the famous fountain is dry in summer) nor house to ask for a drink. There are some wild fruits on the way though, as these berries and wild grapes.
You will find no signs at all for nearly an hour, till you get to the top of the hill, where you'll see this sign, which BTW indicates no distance). You think you are there already, but there is still 30 hard trekking minutes ahead!!!
From the road you take a narrow goats path and just keep going ahead. There are not many crossing on the way, but in those that are, you won't find any sign: just take the widest.
After 20 minutes without seeing no fountain you start thinking you really took the wrong way and there is not such fountain around... Besides, the sun is setting down and you start thinking on how to spend a night lost in the Ithaka hills...
And there, after the last turn, you see the sign!!! (the little sign in the pic) and you know you are there!
Of course, no trace of any other tourist in miles around. I don't know if the fountain has many visitors yearly, but I can tell you there are no tourists buses or Coke machines around, LOL
At last, I sat down at the fountain, drunk my bottle of water and read the chapter of the Odyssey where they talk about this place.
"An in the end..."
So why walking more than 3 hours by lonely tracks just to see a dry fountain, U might wander?
OK, I guess I'm a romantic, I just wanted to live the places Ulisses had "lived", step on the landscapes I had so often imagined, sit in the original sceneries of one of the most famous human epics...
Worth the effort? For me, it was, but I guess it wouldn't for many other people... ;-))