Kefalonia, Greece – a shaky start

Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian islands in Greece and a very good choice for a laid back holiday. If you’re after raving pubs and clubs, try Ios or Mykonos. If you’re after picture postcard white-washed buildings with blue doors and shutters, then go to Santorini. If you want great food, good beaches and pretty views, I can highly recommend Kefalonia.

Our holiday didn’t get off to a good start. We left our villa in Paphos, Cyprus at 6.30am and drove an one and half hours to Larnaca airport. We flew to Athens without incident, and after a short delay at Athens Airport, we flew to the small airport of Kefalonia about 4.15pm. I waited with the hoards of ‘Brits Abroad’ to collect our luggage while Zorba and my brother-in-law Con headed to the Hertz desk to collect our hire cars. As we’re a party of ten, we booked and paid for two large cars. For some reason, we booked the hire cars from 11am, which really should be irrelevant. Zorba picked up our Toyota Rav 4 but for some reason, Con’s car was given away to someone else, despite booking and paying for the car – the reason given: because we were late. Now, an airport car hire desk should know that it’s quite common for flights to be delayed. And, it’d be safe to assume that they would honour a customer’s booking when they have paid.

The Hertz clerk told Con that they would have a large car for him in two hours, which meant that Con would be driving to our villa on small island roads in the dark. It also meant having to wait at a crappy airport with kids who had been travelling all day. It was pointless for Zorba to do two trips because our villa was over an hour away from the airport. After about 45 mins of arguing with uncooperative Hertz clerk (who promised to refund the cost of the car then reneged), asking other car hire companies if they had cars available and trying to find a solution, it was decided that Zorba, mum, dad, John and I would drive to our villa and keep in touch with Con, Marnie, Katie, Leo and Matt by phone. They would wait another hour and half for a car to be returned.

The Rav 4 was packed to the brim with as much luggage as we could squeeze (in case there was an issue with Con getting a car). Using our Vodaphone roaming sim card to activate Google maps, I plugged in the villa address and off we went. We missed the first turn out of the airport. The driver let out a few terse words and found a place to do a U-turn. Google maps then took us the fastest route, which happened to be over the mountains that reach 1600m++ and along goat tracks. Narrow, winding, twisting, turning, pot-holed roads that suddenly went from tarmac to dirt and back to tarmac, with sheer drops down the steep mountainside and not a safety railing in sight. I reckon I only breathed about three times the entire hour and half trip, and left an indent in the door handle and floor from gripping on for dear life and braking for the driver. I let out a few yelps as Zorba neared the edge of the road, as a truck screamed around a corner (how does a truck cope on these roads?) and as goats trotted along the side of the road. As such, there aren’t many photos to share with you as I was too busy hanging on for dear life.

Driving in Greece - 2It was the most stressed I’ve been in a car ever, besides the first time we drove in Sicily a few years ago when we got horribly lost and didn’t’ have a map, GPS or smart phone and found ourselves in a chaotic little town negotiating Sicilian parking (middle of road or anywhere they see their friend), trucks speeding, buses zooming and Vespas darting all directions on roads as wide as my hallway.

Driving in Greece - 3

When we arrived at the villa, I let out a huge involuntary sign of relief.

About an hour later, Con and the clan arrived, more stressed than we were – they were driving a Fiat Doblo (big 7-seater tradie van thing). They had to hire a car from a different company (thanks CBR) and didn’t get a refund or an apology from Hertz. Our family was treated in such an appalling way that it caused cool, calm and collected Marnie to crack it. She said she yelled at the Hertz lady who kept telling them different things. Let me remind you that the hired car Con had booked was also paid for. How can you give away a car that was hired and paid for? There was nothing about being late in the Hertz terms and conditions. Just pathetic lie after lie is what Marnie and Con received from Hertz. All the Hertz lady wanted was to serve other customers

I’m sorry Hertz, but unless this is redeemed in a major way, never ever ever gain will I use or recommend your services.

Besides the disgusting customer service (or lack of) from Hertz and the hair-raising drive to the villa, we were rewarded with a view to die for. Five nights here was a just reward.

Kefalonia villa - 1


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