Podcast 13 in my travel podcast series – I’m taking you on holiday with me to the Greek island of Zakynthos or Zante as it’s popularly known. You’ll hear about how we explored the island, enjoying Greek mezze in Zante town, watched some traditional Greek dancing, visiting ancient monasteries, wine tasting with our friends at Oenolpi winery and a boat trip around Laganas bay that’s known as a protected nesting site of the Caretta Caretta turtles. As my sister lives on Zakynthos, where she runs the Windmill Studios and Windmill Bay Hotel with her Greek husband, we visit her every year and this year we were there in May, which is an ideal time to visit.
- You’ll hear the sounds of the birds chirping in the background as I describe the view from our room above Windmill Hotel owned by my sister and her husband, with the olive groves and fruit trees and view over the teracotta roofs and across the bay to Zante town.
- In Zante town I describe our lunch of typical Greek mezze, in a restaurant by the harbourside. We tried miniature sardines in batter, creamy tsatziki with herbs and spring onions, giant broad beans in fresh tomato sauce, courgettes baked in the oven with oil, stuffed vine leaf dolmades with rice and mint stuffing . After a walk to the end of the harbour to watch the boats coming and going we sat in a trendy cafe, sitting on rattan sofas for our frappé chilled coffee.
- You’ll hear the evening of Greek dancing at my sister’s Windmill Hotel, where the traditional Greek dancers do their floor show and then get all the audience dancing around the swimming pool and my nephews and the barman did a show of their own.
- I walked around the vegetable garden that my sister’s Greek mother-in-law maintains with fruit trees, especially oranges and lemons, a poly tunnel with tomatoes, as well as courgettes, onions, beans and garlic as well as keeping chickens and rabbits for eating and eggs. She makes delicious traditional dishes from the produce such as these Greek stuffed tomatoes.
- We visited Oenolpi winery to meet up with Christina-Maria and Timothy who we met last year and made a video of our wine tasting – Christina tells us why, although she grew up in Athens, she finds she’s even busier running a business on Zante, but why she feels she has a better quality of life surrounded by nature in the vineyards.
- We spent a day on a catmaran trip faround Laganas bay, from Porto Roma booked with Nature World Travel who organise turtle-friendly trips to see the marine park in Laganas Bay. I talk to Yannis Vardakastanis about his work to conserve the turtles and other wildlife in Laganas bay and to Cathal, who works at the Earth Sea, Sky centre that Yannis runs at Gerakas, who tells us about the survey trips that he and the other the volunteers do every day to check on the turtle nests, and monitor their numbers which are sadly in decline.
- We drove to the rocky northern end of the island to see the old monastery of St Denis, the patron saint of the island and drove on to the outlook over the much photographed Navagio bay or Smuggler’s cove which features on many a postcard before finishing with a late lunch in a local taverna at Alykes
If you enjoyed this travel podcast please check out my other podcasts in my Travel Podcast Archive
Things that you might enjoy on Zante or Zakynthos
Learn what to look for in a traditional Greek taverna
Take coffee and glika (sweet cakes) in the backstreets of Zante town, or on the main square.
Visit a beautifully furnished 18th century Greek mansion at Romas Mansion in Zante town
Admire the fishing boats, yachts of all sizes and cargo ships in Zante harbour and walk right along to the end of the sea wall
Visit the Venetian fort or castle overlooking Zante town
Visit the winery and do some wine tasting at Oenolpi winery at Machairado
See pottery being made and hand painted at the Sigouros workshop at Machairado or browse in the shop in Zante town
Visit the Earth, Sea, Sky wildlife conservation centre at Gerakas beach, have lunch in the taverna next door and relax for the afternoon on the unspoilt Gerakas beach
Spend a few hours at the waterpark at Sarakinado – great for older children and teenagers
Sun yourself on one of the many beautiful beaches on Zakynthos