Only one block from the waterfront quiet backstreets enchant
This is my second in a three-part series on Mediterranean Islands. With the winter solstice approaching, I am in need of some sunshine to brighten these dark days. Memories of my recent trip to Aegina Island in Greece are still radiating warmth and illuminating my December.
Located only 20 miles from Athens, Aegina feels like it's on another planet from the frenetic-paced capital. While I've been to more than a dozen Greek Islands, I've never been to Aegina. As it was the pandemic, I was looking for an island without an airport---hoping that would mean fewer tourists. I was right.
Reasons to visit Aegina?
1. Closest island to Athens (reached in < 60 minutes by hydrofoil)
2. Mid-September Pistachio Festival---Aegina's pistachios are the most coveted in Greece
3. Good hiking (e.g. an ancient hilltop town, a grove of 3,000 year old olive tree, a 2,500 year old temple)
Where to stay:
- Aegina town: there's only one place to consider and that's a harbor side apartment with a 180 panorama of the entire waterfront. The brand new apartment is managed by Dream Travel in Aegina, and it's listed on VRBO as the Pelaisos Apartment (where you'll find the glowing review of my stay). Its location is the best spot in town and working with Dream Travel was a dream.
- Marathonas Beach: located 3 miles from Aegina town, this beach is popular because of its excellent swimming & its drop-dead gorgeous situation. With shallow water protected from the winds, the sea here like a bathtub. I suggest you contact Dream Travel to have them book your hotel as there are three or four possibilities.
Ammos' salad with sheep cheese, oranges & Pistachios would please any Greek God (or Goddess)
Where to Dine
1. Ammos is the number one choice on the island. I am enamored with this place for so many reasons. First is the food (one of the owners is Greek, the other is French), the second is the warm hospitality, the third is the stunning location on Marathonas Beach where you can dine on the sand. The restaurant's motto is "The secret ingredient is always love." There's a lot of love being served in this special spot.
2. Sti Fou-Fou, a casual restaurant & deli, has a large take-out business featuring rotisserie chickens. If you rent the Pelasios apartment, it's only a one minute walk (located just behind the waterfront church). Don't leave the island without tasting their baked eggplant with tomatoes.
- Palaiochora: built in the 9th century by islanders whose seaside village was the constant prey of pirates, this decaying hilltop town is filled with a huge number of still functioning private chapels. This place is hauntingly special & involves lots of stairs.
- Eleonas: a high mountain valley of ancient olive trees, it is reached by a fairly arduous one hour uphill hike from Marathonas Beach.
- Temple of Aphaia: this sanctuary was built 500 BC and has a superb museum.
Stay tuned for the last in my December series of island escapes, another Greek Island... Santorini!