My mum and I have just returned from the Lovides Village Apartments where we had a weeks holiday from 29 June to 6 July and found them to be excellent on the whole. Lovides is situated in an excellent location in Lourdes, right between the old part (Lourdata) which is located to the left down the hill and at the bottom you will find the beach. Too the right is the long straight horizontal road where you will find the majority of the supermarkets, tavernas and a couple of bars. Its worth the trek down the hill half way to teh beach to reach the old part of Lourdes and the 'square' (Lourdata). There is a little old taverna on a hillside there run by a very friendly Welsh guy an his Greek wife and the locals congregate their to discuss the state of the world. Its a little step back in time and worth the visit, perhaps in the evening when its cooler and less hard work to walk back up the hill!
Lovides is a little village of apartments set slightly off the main road up a small incline. The apartments face towards the ocean and some have better views than others. The village itself is generally quiet and serene and lovely to sit and watch the sunset from with the breathtaking mountain backdrop behind you. Our apartment was right at the back (C block) and we were on the second floor (see picture attached, view from our balcony). I was surprised by the excellent standard of accomodation. Our room had a small kitchenette area as you entered the door to the right and on the left a good sized bathroom with toilet, good size sink and mirror above and best of all an excellent shower with hot/cold water and the cubicle itself was a seperate built up floor area with curtain. There was also a hairdryer fitted to the wall!
The balcony was an excellent size and segregated descreetly from your neighbour. The chairs were a little uncomfortable if you have bare legs though - I'd advise a towel to cover them!
The room itself was well furnished, two good sized single beds side by side, a chair (which I think may also turn into a bed for a third/child), a big wardrobe, two drawers, two tables, two stools. The cutlery is very basic indeed but function - a couple of pans, knives/forks/spoons, plates, a couple of glasses - no bottle or can opener though. There is hob rings but no cooker or kettle - we easily heated water in the morning by pan to make coffee/tea. The fridge was excellent - a good size and a little freezer compartment which can easily store a 1.5L bottle of water overnight to take out with you on adventures the next day. Best of all though you can drink the water from the tap!! This was verified by our Olympic Rep, Rhiannon (who is also excellent, friendly and very knowledgeable) as we arrived. We havent been to Greece for a couple of years so maybe this is standard now but its news to us and it was great - no dragging heavy water back to your apartment all the time!
Our apartment was only cleaned once mid-week and the towels and sheets changed. The notice on the back of your front door will say twice a week however. We are quite tidy so it didnt bother us but people with children might have to have a word. We had a mop and broom on our balcony in the corner though and found it handy to sweep the bathroom through after showering to stop the tiles being slippery.
The apartments themselves I would guess are fairly new and in excellent condition and very pretty indeed - terracotta walls and roofs surrounded by palm trees, palms and flowers and grassy areas - very well kept. It has a lovely safe holiday village feeling - residents are also very friendly and always say 'hello' as you pass by. Mostly we found the village and Lourdes occupied by couples of all ages and families and couples of friends. The balconies have glass doors as well as metal vented shutters and we confess we left both open during the day to air and felt it was safe to do so. There is however no safe for valuables so excersize your own common sense as you feel fit.
I'd recommend going to your welcome meeting - Rhiannon is not pushy at all and extremely knowledgeable about the island.
The pool area is lovely, a good size pool (it slopes down a little suddenly in the middle, take care) and has a shaded area under roof where the bar is located (also a reception area for questions etc), television, books/magazines to read. Katerina and her children speak excellent English and are very helpful. The food is a bit basic and limited - the Greek salad was lovely but other than that its toasted sandwiches, chips, pizzas. Ice creams also in the freezer but excellent drink selection - all kinds of spirits, cocktail at 5 Euros each, Amstel on draft in frozen glasses is highly recommended at only 2.5 Euros for a large pint.
Only a few downsides to the Lovides:
Firstly I should mention there is construction work still going on which Olympic did not warn us about. A JCB is located to the left side of the village next to the pool - they move earth around in the mornings and evenings. One couple of ladies mentioned to me they were working at 6.30am one morning and we noticed them again at 7pm when we went out to dinner. I think they give up when it gets too hot. Luckily we were located in C block to the right and heard it only in the distance but it all depends where your apartment is.
Secondly water flow from the taps can be interrupted - it was only on two nights when we returned to our apartments at 10:30pm ish to find that there was no water from the taps in the bathroom or kitchen, not a drop.
The loo however did still flush? One resident advised us it was due to a pressure problem they were endeavouring to fix. We showered before we went out that night so it didnt really bother us since we had water chilling in the fridge to drink and water ressumed as normal the next morning. If you have young children though this is useful to be aware of.
The owner appeared to have a couple of young boys aged approx 8 or 9 and they had a motorbike. On a couple of evenings at around 7pm I'd be reading on my balcony and they would drive their motorbike across the grass, back and forth again and again inches from the balconies on the ground floor and in inbetween the apartment blocks which was very frustrating and noisy. It did only happen a couple of evenings but if it became a regular occurance or went on into the evening I'd be inclined to mention it to Rhiannon or the owners.
You also only get one flat little pillow which is a little sad. I'd recommend propping it up with the blankets located on top of your wardrobe which will give you a bit more height if needed. Just a tiny thing really for comfort.
We flew from Bristol and arrived in the early hours which meant that coming home we were told to vacate our room at 11am prior to being picked up by the coach to the airport at 8:45pm. Thats a long time with no room. Luckily we lazed by the pool by day where there was shade if needed and our neighbours (Ian and Susie from Croydon, hello guys!
) were so very kind as to let us borrow their room to shower early evening so we could change in privacy and have a bite to eat all clean and refreshed prior to boarding the coach. There are showers pool side but there was no room provided, and suitcases had to be left poolside all day long. We are so grateful to Susie and Ian, thank you so much if you are reading, as my mum is 71 and it made all the difference to her.
Generally though we had little to complain about staying at Lovides and it was a lovely week an we would return there even though we like to explore a new Greek Island each year. The setting was lovely and complimented in tradition by the tinkling of goat bells gently in the mornings and evenings as the resident herd went out for the day and then came in on an evening.
When staying at Lovides you are in the middle of the resort. A shortcut to the tavernas is to turn right out of the apartments and pass the pool and walk to the end of the road. Then turn right again. The road turns a little gravelly but its still walkable in flip flops, its not bad. The road bends around to the left sharply and you stay on it and follow it to the end. On the way you will see Andromeda restaurant on your right up the steps (we heard it was good, a little more expensive than the others though) and then at the bottom is the best restaurant of all - SPIROS.
We ate there on 4 evenings it was so good and everyone we spoke to agreed! Its only about 100m from the apartment and has scenic views of the ocean and is beautifully set outside but under cover with an olive tree between the tables and under umbrellas in places. The staff are so friendly and you couldnt ask for better service, it was immense. For Greek authentic food & lovely fresh fish its a must - please do try the fillet of sole stuffed with seafood (baby squid, mussles & prawns) this dish was stunning!!!
I had Stamaki which I've not seen before on my Greek travels - big a casserole of tender chunks of lamb with a tasty greek herby tomato based sauce and vegetables and topped with melted cheese - yummy! They also do excellent pasta dishes, the bolognaise was really lovely and other grilled & UK foods for the less adventurous. Generous but not over the top portions. The appetizers were also gorgeous - try the mezze which is really unusual even though it had chips - a little bit of everything, lovely cheese pies. If ordering seperate starter the calimari is to die for!
Klimatis Taverna is right down on the beach but worth the trek... so friendly and a lovey setting looking right out on to the beach with a alfresco dining under a roof of vines and a bounty of hanging grapes. The food again was stunning and really enjoyable. It was very popular too - one lady we spoke to had her birthday there and they made her a gorgeous cake of chocolate and orange!
Dinonysis is also good down the hill towards Lourdata about 100m - very friendly and a lovely garden to the rear although the Kleftico had the neck of lamb (with bones) rather than chunks of meat, but still very tender.
Inonysis as you turn right at the main road and right along about 800m was a little more expensive but the view was stunning across the bay as the sun set - the service could be more polished, we had to ask twice for a glass of water, but the Becre Meze (tender chunks of beef in greek tomato based sauce) was absoutely gorgeous & two of the tenderist pieces of beef - almost fillet steak! I requested potatoes with it instead of chips but was told this was not possible
so I had rice instead. Apart from that, this dish was superb.
well believe what you have read about the climb down to the beach, its a monster of a hill. It winds downwards, slowly at first and then steeper (very steep in places) towards the bottom nearing the beach. We walked down one morning and it was hard work at the bottom (my calves really felt it and I'm only 32 and quite fit!). Walking up though - crazy, seriously. We tried it and nearly passed out half way up
. Its not so much the hill - it is steep and quite long but it could be done if it were not for the heat. Before the sun rise and after it sets it would be ok. There are benches you could stop at along the way if need be and have a rest. But in 32 degree heat (which is what we just came back from) its a formitable effort only for the brave hearted and 6 times a week gym goers.
Instead get a bus for only 1 Euro each way, which goes along the main road in Lourdes at 10:15am and 11:15am - walk down the brief hill from Lovides towards the main road and you can flag him down there if you dont want to walk to the bus stop. He stops just short of the beach, there is a brief climb to get back up to the bus stop where he drops you off - he'll pick you up at 2:45pm and 6pm. He is usually on time and running mostly - we found a notice up the day he was not running so for Greece, this is pretty reliable! Otherwise a taxi is about 6 euros but there are no taxi ranks, you will have to ask Lovides bar/reception to order you one.
The rest of the island... a hire car is highly recommended to get around and see this beautiful island - Kefalonia is one of the most beautiful I've seen so far and I've been to quite a few now. Its green, lush, friendly and there is lots to see despite the earthquake. The beach at Skala is gorgeous and you dont have to climb down a cliff to get to it - okay its a very fine shingle with sand but to be honest thats a lot cleaner than sand that sticks to you constantly and its very fine and walkable and the waves are so calm there you can sit in it by the shore and watch the world go by, perfect for children. Lourdes beach had stronger waves which could actually knock you off your feet if you were infirm or a child. Sami was a lovely harbour worth visiting, we had the best meze ever at the taverna on the shore down the very end of the harbour when you turn left. Stunning. Portos was ok, not so friendly atmosphere and a tiny beach, more of a port. Drive up in the mountains for stunning views where every you go to get to the tomb of St Gerominis and the incredible church they re-built in the 90s after the earthquake - also pop into the wine tasting factory next door to sample he Robola. The roads themselves are worth the drive to see the abundance of vineyards and mountain landscapes and roaming goats.
Money.... be aware there is no cashpoint or bank in Lourdes. You will need to go into Agostolli for this. However, CSR the car hire place near La Mer restuarant, does a good exchange rate of Sterling into Euros. But if you get stuck the Lara Hotel (on the road about 200m before you get to the beach) will apparently take cards and give you Euros of smalls amounts i.e. 100 Euros or less.
Hopefully we have covered everything that we learned on our week in Lourdes and hopefully it might give you a head start to making the most of your holiday