My friends joke that I have a love affair with the island of Aegina. It’s true, I love the place. I’ve been to the island, which is a mere 1-hour ferry ride from Athens, countless times. The island is laid back and quiet. And it has mountains and good beaches. When I lived in Athens, it was my great retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Still today, I make sure to visit Aegina at least once a year.
I typically take the early morning ferry to Aegina from the Port of Piraeus. Aegina may not have a glamorous port like some Greek islands, but what lies beyond the port is delightful. I head straight to the Trust Motorbike for Rent, located directly behind the Piraeus Bank that you see when pulling into the Port of Aegina. I rent a motor scooter for the day with a helmet. The rentals here are old and slightly rickety, but that adds to the adventure.
My day on Aegina starts with a drive north, hugging the shoreline. I make a brief stop at the Lighthouse Bouza to take a deep breath of sea air. From there I keep driving along the shore and it starts to wind toward the west. The next stop I make is at Agia Sotira to stretch my legs and look north toward Greece’s mainland. The world seems so big at this point of the island.
From Agia Sotira, I turn south and start to climb up the mountains. There are several outlooks along the road. I like to stop at a few to take time to observe the abundance of nature. I rarely take photos, as I strive to be fully present during my time on the island. Having the memory of the view means much more to me than a photo that I may only look at few times.
Winding my way through the mountains and forest, I eventually make it to Agios Nektarios. The architecture of this church and monastery draws me in every time I see it. I love to walk around the grounds and check out the view from the majestic balcony. Eventually, I wander inside and walk around quietly to take it all in. I can smell the incense burning just thinking about it. So much community, pain and happiness happens in this place. Being present there makes me feel a unique connection with the island.
After my visit to Agios Nektarios, I cross over the mountains to the southeast side of the islands. I go straight to my favorite beach near the Fyki Beach Restaurant. I rent a beach chair and order lunch. For the rest of the day I relax, read, swim in the sea, and repeat. In the winter months, the water is typically too cold to swim but I still sit on the beach and get mesmerized by those blue waters.
About a half hour before the ferry departs to Athens, I return the motor scooter and grab a gelato for the boat ride back. But the day of delight is not done yet. I time it so that the ferry I take back is traveling while the sun is setting. My day ends with a beautiful sunset, as I bask in more memories of Aegina.
Being outdoors and enjoying nature feeds creativity. This is what a day on Aegina does for me. My creative juices start flowing. Sometimes I bring a journal with me to write down my thoughts along the way. While other times, I simply ride around the island or spend time at the beach giving my brain a break.
Others may wonder why I spend so much time on Aegina when there are countless other more sexy Greek islands. But Aegina holds a special place in my heart. Like a solid relationship, it has been with me through ups and downs. I love Aegina.
by Julie Slagter