Friday, 28 June 2013

The Onassis hideaway in the heart of the Ionian

It’s Mr Grigg’s birthday and we’re on a quay at Nidri, Lefkada, while an engineer fixes the alternator on our boat, Nestor.
I can think of worse places to be.

An imposing figure towers large on the quayside, just outside Nik the Greek’s, his jacket hung nonchalantly over his shoulder. Through his big glasses he sees everything.

He gazes out to the small island of Skorpios. He runs his eyes along the ridge to the flat-topped bit on the left, his helipad.
Skorpios looking towards Nidri and Lefkada
It is not Mr Grigg who is looming over Nidri like some benign giant. 
It is the statue of Aristotle Onassis, the man who it is said never spent the night on his island but preferred to sleep aboard the yacht Christina anchored by the seashore in the clear waters of the Ionian.

These days he is buried here, along with his son, Alexander, and daughter, Christina.

This was the shipping magnate loved by the local population and the man who brought Jackie Kennedy here and married her, five years after her husband was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.

Jackie enjoyed the solitude of a little Cyclades-style beach house right next to the sea. It gave her the privacy she so needed and desperately deserved.

Today, according to newspaper reports, the island belongs to the daughter of a Russian billionaire.

The parkland grounds are still kept beautifully manicured, and you can just about make them out from the deck of your passing boat. You can sail around the island but you can't land on it. A sophisticated security system is in operation which can detect intruders at the drop of a pebble.

This part of the Ionian is indeed an idyllic spot. There are yachts a-plenty and holidaymakers traipsing around in baseball caps and sarongs looking for an English newspaper. But, like Corfu, there is so much that is far away from the madding crowd.

It is green, with land and islands all around you and the most wonderful clear waters in coves dotted along the shores.
On days like these, it is hard to be homesick, especially when family and friends and arriving by the plane load over the next few weeks.

Big Fat Greek Gap Year? It's positively bursting.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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