Well this was probably one of the most fortunate experiences that I had in Bergamo. I flew with Ryanair late Thursday evening from Barcelona to Bergamo and I didn’t have my flight to Greece until the next morning, so it was a night layover in Italy. However I was contacted by Andrea, a local Italian from Bergamo, through my Couchsurfing profile and she asked if I was up for a tour around the city by her. I responded within seconds and told her that that would be incredible!
So I landed with my backpack full of swimsuits and tank tops into the chilly mountain city of Bergamo located 50km east of Milan. There, Andrea and her good friend Chantal met me at the airport and we began our Italian adventure! I couldn’t believe it but they were so excited to show me around their incredible city and practice their English at the same time! We drove first to ‘The Upper City’, the walled city perched high above the city. It was like walking into a medieval city. We parked the car and walked along the walls and just looked just upon the beautiful nigh lights and Bergamo. After a bit of touring around the cobble stone streets of Bergamo, the girls took me to their favorite local restaurant where they ordered me the tastiest local Bergamo dishes, that consisted of course….of Pasta!
My appetizer was called ‘Salumi misti con polenta’ which was a mix of incredible Bergamese meats and cheeses along with their local specialty of Polenta. Then after a tasty local red wine they ordered me the famous Bergamo pasta called ‘Casoncelli alla Bergamasca’. It was the best pasta dish I have ever eaten in my life. It was a ravioli, stuffed pasta type drizzled with a tasty olive oil and garlic sauce.
Then we headed around the streets again where Andrea and Chantal showed me the historical buildings of Bergamo and where we ended up having a tasty ‘Cioccolato and Cannela’ Gelato!
The night concluded with the girls dropping me off late that evening at my hostel where I slept for about 4 hours before jumping in a cab back to the airport bright and early the next morning!
Well it was a chilly departure from Bergamo bright and early Friday morning for the 1.5 hour flight to Argostoli International Airport on the Ionian Island of Kefalonia Greece. But what an incredible flight it was for scenery. We took off and broke through all the clouds surrounding Bergamo to see the sun shining on the snowy Italian Alps behind us. Then we followed the Italian coast southbound, flying right between the ‘Boot’ (Calabria) and ‘Heel’ (Apulia) of Italy! Then it was flying west of Albania, over the island of Corfu and landing at the ocean side airport of Argostoli. I spent a couple of hours touring around the capital of Argostoli and this small Ionian Island capital before having my first ‘Chicken Gyro’ and then jumping in the bus to Sami and then onwards to the literally 500 person fishing village of Agia Efimia where my couch surfer lived.
So this trip I was going to try couch surfing. For those of you who don’t know what it is, ‘Couch Surfing’ is simply a website where you create a profile on their website and when you are traveling, you can search up hosts in any city in the world who are willing to lend their couches to you for free. Normally the hosts also show you around the city and show you a bit of the local side of life as well.
So I did some research on the website and found this couple, Auba and Athena who have a profile filled with incredible reviews from couch surfers across the world. I decided to send them a request to see if I could stay with them. Auba responded back and told me thy everything was great and that they would be happy to host for my weekend in Kefalonia, however they told me that they lived in a small fishing village in Agia Efimia where I needed to meet them.
After landing in Argostoli I jumped on a bus that toured me up through the incredible mountains of Kefalonia and then to the town on the east side of the island called Sami. However, I stumbled out of the bus and was asking around for the transfer bus to take me to Agia Efimia. I was quite nervous because there is only one bus a day between Agia Efimia and Sami and I had less then 10 minutes to find it. Turns out the nice locals led me to a bus that was also acting as the local school bus! So not five minutes after I got on, we stopped at the local school and picked up all the local Greek School kids! It was great to hear them laugh and yell across the bus all in Greek!
Anyways, I got to Agia Efimia where the ocean side town was literally empty because all the tourists had left from their holidays. I toured around the village and went for an incredible swim in the clearest water I have ever seen in my life!
Auba met me later that day and he introduced me to Athena, instantly we hit it off really well as I found out that he is a Dive Master from Spain and he was living in Greece teaching scuba diving. Athena told me tons about the local life in Greece and attempted to teach me a bit of Greek which I struggled with for the whole weekend!
However, that evening I was fortunate to have been invited to one of there friends birthday parties in Argostoli. Jerry was having his birthday and we went out to a Pizzeria in the city center. However I quickly found out in Greek culture that for your birthday, you are the one that pays and it is considered rude for those who try to pay for you. So that was a bit of a culture shock at first, especially after a full dinner and some drinks as well! We then went out to a local bar in Argostoli and made our way home just before sunrise early that morning!
Sleep was not an option the next morning because we got up at 8:00am to go to the islands big festival, “Name Day” which is the Patron Saint day of Kefalonia. In the town of St. Gerasimus the church was where they hosted this big event. St. Gerasimus was the saint that cured the city of sickness way long ago. And every year they parade his remains around in a glass casket for the people to see. A very interesting cultural experience! Then in the church you could climb down into the tomb where he was buried which is suppose to give you lucky powers. I decided to go down to take a look and had the weirdest feeling ever, there was no oxygen and I was in a place where a person had been buried for two hundred years! Anyways we went to the Gypsy Market after and then it was back home for a nap!
That night was spend having Souvlaki and Pita with the best olives I have ever tasted! We then ended up at a local Greek bar in Sami and danced to Greek Music until way to late!
The last day was the best, we woke up and decided with all of Auba and Athena’s friends that I had gotten to know quite well, that we were going for a hike! So we made our sandwiches and drove up into the middle of the island where we were on top of the mountains! We hiked through the forests and olive groves for about forty minutes before coming out to the most pristine beach ever. Polished white stones with about 300m of beach, crystal clear water, and not a soul there whatsoever! After snorkelling and cliff diving for around 4 hours, the sunset had started and we returned back for a great last night out eating Gyros, Calamari and Feta with tons of Greek Salad at the local Greek Tavern!
Then it was a quick flight back to Barcelona and the memories of a great Greek Island Trip to Kefalonia!