Lobster town…. Astakos means ‘lobster’.
We have spent two nights in Astakos, this little Greek town on the mainland, east of Ithaca and Kefalonia. The waterfront is fairly pretty, with many tavernas, and tall palm trees, with a dramatic back drop of steep hillside. There are some beach areas, but they are generally rough and shingle, not my sort of beach, but the local Greeks seem to like to use them, and there are some sunbeds and umbrellas and even showers. At the other end of the harbour a ferry calls in everyday, taking large lorries and other vehicles to and from Kefalonia, which relies on the ferry for supplies from the mainland.
Behind the waterfront, the town is not very attractive, very Greek, with scruffy pavements, tiny shops and businesses, not at all touristy. There is a very large church set back from a town square, and a couple of schools. I always find it interesting that in the UK, if you have a pushchair, or need to use a wheelchair, mobility scooter or have any sort of impairment, you are catered for in every way. In the UK the pavements are wide and clear, the kerbs are lowered every few yards so you can access them easily, there are crossing points at every junction with pedestrian operated traffic signals.
Ha! Nothing like that in Greece. Not here in the sticks, anyway, or on any island I’ve visited. Mostly, pavements don’t exist, and if they do, they are of varying heights, often very high. Trees grow out of the middle of the narrow pavements, potholes aren’t filled in, and half the time you find yourself walking in the road. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone in a wheelchair in the back streets. They certainly wouldn’t be able to move more than a few yards before being impeded by obstacles, and crossing the roads would be a nightmare. Traffic seems to park where it wants, usually half on-half off a pavement, or directly in front of a doorway of a shop. There are no double yellow lines preventing vehicles from parking, no road markings, few traffic signs and virtually no traffic lights, and no traffic wardens telling you not to park.
But hey, this is Greece! Everything seems to work well. You soon get used to it, it all adds to the charm of this lovely country.