Zakynthos town was rather a surprise for me; I had always associated it with the excesses of the ‘party scene’ and so was pleasantly surprised.
We arrived from Ormos Navarino on Sunday evening and were directed to the town quay. This is alongside the main road through town and so was quite busy although it was not intrusive. Our plan was to remain here until Wednesday or Thursday before heading on towards Sami on Cephalonia.
Our prime reason for being in Zakynthos was, again, the weather; even Valeria’s Med Sailing Facebook group had mention of it! On Monday we were due strong southerly winds and on Tuesday the wind was due to swing round to the west; for a change the forecasts were quite accurate. What we didn’t realise was how exposed the quay was to southerly winds. The quay lays almost north – south so the wind, up to 30 knots, was directly on our beam and ‘twisting’ the boat on our anchor and moorings so the port quarter (left hand back bit) was pushed close to the quay, too close for comfort really. So we stayed on board on Tuesday with a fender to hand. It was only later we found out that a local game fisherman on the next mooring to ours moves his boat elsewhere in strong southerlies! Wednesday the wind was mostly from the west and we were quite sheltered so went for a wander round town.
Zakynthos was mostly demolished in the earthquake in 1953 and like many towns in the Ionian Islands is ‘new’. The harbour front is all restaurants, hotels and shops and a few streets back from the quay is a pedestrianised shopping street, the ‘Central Market’. At the south end of the harbour is the huge St Dionisios church and at the north end is the large Solomos Square, with the Byzantine Museum fronting on to it.
I visited the museum and was a little disappointed. It houses a magnificent collection of religious iconography, some of it dating from the 16th and 17th centuries and I assume salvaged after the earthquake, although it could have been salvaged from war damaged churches, unfortunately what explanations there are, are all in Greek.
We found Zakynthos to be a lively place, probably livelier ‘in season’. On three nights we had a busker on the quayside just along from us and it was very pleasant having dinner with our own personal musician on hand. Valeria face bragged about it! We also met a very nice helpful big game fisherman called Yannis, but more of him later.
It doesn’t seem as if there is a lot to do or see in town, it is obviously very geared up for tourists but it was a pleasant place to spend a couple of days.