Sami, Kefalonia, Greece .... Sami or Gialos is the island's second largest port. The modern town, built after the 1953 earthquakes at the foot of the hills of Agii Fanentes and Kastro with assistance from the British, has lost none of the importance it had in ancient times. It's hotels, restaurants, campsites, archaeological and geological points of interest attract a large share of the island's tourists. Sami was one of the island's four ancient cities. It occupied an important geographic position. In the Homeric epics, Samos or Same (quite possibly a reference to the whole island) is mentioned as having participated in the Trojan War. Another passage states that 24 of Penelope's 108 suitors were from Same. As a self-governing city-state, Same had its own coins; they and other artifacts from the excavations of the acropolis testify to the town's wealth as well as to the density of its population.
Lord Byron stayed for a night in the hostel near the church here. At the foot of this hill, in a fenced-in area, stands a well-preserved building from the Roman era. The locals call it Rakospito (a corruption of Drakospito); it most likely housed Roman baths (hot springs) Near it a superb mosaic was discovered in 1956, and two years later an extraordinarily fine bronze head dating from 300 AD, possibly of a Roman patrician. It is now on exhibit in the Argostoli Archaeological Museum. In 1957, three 3rd-century BC graves were found, whose grave stelae are also in the Archaeological Museum in Argostoli.
We cannot have a page on Sami without a mention of my day in the mountains on horseback. Located close to Sami are the Bavarian Horse Riding Stables, run by Cornelia Schimpfky. I can recommend the experience to even the most timid non horse person (err...like me). However Cornelia is most definitely a horse person and knows her trade. That said she was still prepared to risk her beloved ponies and let me up on one!! We opted for the ride up into the mountain to see the old village destroyed in the 1953 earthquake. The track here lulled one into a false sense of security, round the corner it starts to get, ahem! interesting.
Our guide for the trip was Christina, and before you ask, yes that is her holding on to the lead reign which is firmly attached to my horse! Never claimed to be a John Wayne type. I struck an early deal with my pony called Fantasy, I would not do anything rash, make any sudden movements, jerk the reigns, or jump about on her back, provided she would do the same. It was a happy arrangement we both kept to! I sat quietly like a potato sack the whole time taking in the scenery and doing nothing to disrupt the status quo! Fantasy in her turn carried me up the mountain and then back down again. Wonderful arrangement and a good time was had by all...maybe not so much the pony, she did all the work! (Please forgive this old story teller Christina, but it was just like a scene from 'Allo 'Allo, including accents).
The Ponies are Halflingers, a Bavarian breed, and as Christina (also from Germany) explained when I asked the question as we were going up a 1 in 5 hill (and not the best time to ask I grant you) "You, Gloria and me are on ze whole halflingers, Judi is on ze half halflinger and ze other half is Arab, which is why she is nervous and skittish". "What!??!" Judi said voice rising to a crescendo, who had until that moment been riding with the confident ease of a saddle tramp. "Nervous??!! She said looking down a sheer drop of 500 feet, "Skittish??!!"
A few moments later Christina turned to me and said with a smile "And now ze adventurous bit" Calling out to Judi who was leading "Judi pleeze turn right." Neither Judi, Gloria nor I could see a right turn, just an old crumbling wall. "Where? there is no turning, just this wall" Judi said "Ya Ya, up ze vall" said Christina...............err....What?!!
And so up the wall we went!! For a few moments I was pre-occupied with brushing the overhanging branches away from my face from the trees to my right, Then I looked left.....big mistake.....whilst I was dodging tree branches to my right, I was looking down on tree tops to my immediate left, I could not see the ledge we were walking along! The drop was....impressive. The total experience was exciting and very enjoyable and my sincere thanks Cornelia and especially to our guide Christina ............. get the impression I was pleased to get back...?????
Cornelia Schimpfky, You lied to me. I quote you ....... "You hav a vestern saddle it is like an armchair, very comfortable " After nearly two hours in the saddle the doctors tell me my legs will return to normal in time! Bit sore or what??! However, a real thumbs up for the day!