Aegina Travel Blog› entry 12 of 26 › view all entries
Mid Semester Break in Aegina
Our first three week course on the â€˜Magnificent Mosiacâ€™ ended on Friday and we FINALLY had a weekend off! Most of the students from the first class were only staying for the first three weeks, so they went home, but my roommates stayed, so we decided to go on a trip together. We debated over Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, but in the end, we decided we would rather save some money and go to Aegina, the closest island to Athens. The small island is famous for its pistachio crops and classical temple to the goddess Aphia.
We stayed Friday night in Athens so that we could have one last hurrah with friends that were leaving. On Saturday morning our new roommate Bridget arrived, completing our apartment of now 5 girls. We invited our new roommate to join us on our island adventure, but she had just arrived and was a little overwhelmed, so she decided not to join us. So it was just my roommates Katie, Jen and I, and our two friends Cassie and Andrea.
Taking only our swimsuits and a toothbrush, we hopped on the bus that stops right outside our apartment, and rode it to Syntagma where we got on the metro. Two metro changes later we arrived in the port city, Piraeus, where we were just in time to catch the ferry to Aegina. (they leave hourly) The ferry ride was lovely, birds fly right next to the boat, the water is perfectly blue, and the breeze is the perfect amount of cool to compliment the sunshine. We sat on the deck and listened to our ipods for the short hour ride.
We arrived in Aegina Town, and were a little overwhelmed to find out that the hotel we booked was actually in another village. We had lunch on the pier, and then found the bus stop to take us to Agia Marina, where our hotel was. We looked up Agia Marina in the tour book which described it as a resort, so we knew we were in for some good beaches. The bus ride there was the strangest ride of my life. The driver was growing a rose bush in a pot on the dashboard, and he drove with the door open. He looked like a Greek bus driver version of Fabio. Very strange. Just as we were taking off, this woman ran along the moving bus and jumped in. We think it was the cab drivers girlfriend, because she kept lighting cigarettes and giving them to him. This woman jumping on the moving bus caused an old man next to us to erupt into an uncontrollable laughter, which made us laugh too. This old man and his wife began talking to us, completely in Italian. The fact that we didnâ€™t speak Italian seemed irrelevant to them; they lectured us on politics, telling us to vote for Obama, and then also I think the Euro cup came up, but Iâ€™m not sure, I just nodded and smiled. They were very friendly.
The bus dropped us off in Agia Marina, a tiny town with a fabulous looking beach. The town was basically 6 blocks of little shops and restaurants, very small. We were dropped off in front of a surf shop, and I suggested we ask inside for directions to our hotel. Some of the girls protested (I donâ€™t know why, they didnâ€™t know where the hotel was) but I just went in and asked. (in Greek!) The woman running the store that I asked didnâ€™t speak any English, which wasnâ€™t an issue because she can just point in the direction we need to go. I asked her which way, and she started prattling off to me in Greek, and picking up her phone, and pointing to another phone, and asking how many of us were there. It ended with her making us follow her down the street.
So there we were, 5 American girls following our new Yaya like ducklings down the street to wherever she was leading us, hopefully the hotel. A car in the street stopped and our Yaya threw up her arms and motioned us to the car â€“ I was feeling somewhere between frightened and amused. The man in the car told us he ran the hotel, and would be right there, and told us where to walk. When we got there he told us that the woman we asked for directions was his mother. Small world? Our hotel room was nice, and simple, all the hotels here have balconies, no matter how inexpensive they are. The hotel manager brought us presents including a basket of shells, a Greek flag and a map. The hotel was so sweet and accommodating, that we didnâ€™t hold it against them when we found a cockroach. Thank god for Jen who fearlessly smacked it with her flip flop.
After the cockroach incident, we put on our suits and went to the beach. This was the first sand beach that Iâ€™ve been to in Greece, most of them are pebble beaches. The beach was pretty large, and the water was perfect, totally clear and stayed very shallow for about 100 feet. I splurged on the most extravagant thing Iâ€™ve treated myself to on this trip â€“ a 12Euro boogie board, decorated with a very strange picture of three dolphins wearing pink sunglasses. We spent about three hours floating on our boards, body surfing and just totally enjoying that we didnâ€™t have class, and no one was going to make us climb up a mountain.
At about 6:30pm it got a little breezy, so we headed back to the hotel to take showers and get ready for dinner. We window shopped on the way home at all the cute store stuffed full of Dolce Gabbana knock offs. We got cute for girls night out, and went to a restaurant that was recommended to us. The seating was on a rock right out on the ocean, decorated with white lights. It was almost too perfect; we ate our dinner under the sparkling lights, being serenaded by the ocean waves crashing on the rocks. Since dinner is so slow and relaxing, we didnâ€™t get finished until after 10, so we decided to go to this discotheque that the man at our hotel had suggested to us called â€˜Zorbas Castleâ€™. With a name like that, we just couldnâ€™t refuse the opportunity. It was only a few blocks away from our hotel, but we had to walk down a little path, it was completely hidden from the street, and it was quite literally, a castle. Like a medieval stone castle discotheque. We stayed for one drink to listen to the American music that they were playing (all the classic Beyonce songs) but were pretty tired so we didnâ€™t stay out very late. Zorbas was pretty calm, I donâ€™t think things pick up until about 2 in the morning.
After fighting over the air-conditioning level all night, we woke up pretty early and packed up. We checked out of the hotel and went down the street to rent 4wheelers! The man did not seem happy about renting out 3 vehicles to 5 kids who have never driven them before, but he did it. He fitted us with helmets. (he teased me that my helmet was extra large, but itâ€™s not my fault Iâ€™m extra smart and apparently have a big skull.) After lecturing us to go slow on the corners he shook his head as we drove away. I think he didnâ€™t think weâ€™d make it back in one piece.
First we rode our ATVs to the temple of Aphia, which was close to Agia Marina. The temple has been reconstructed from orginal pieces, so itâ€™s fairly authentic, but not completely. Aphia was a local ancient goddess in Aegina, who later became affiliated with Artemis. Aegina was a huge rival of Athens back in the day. The temple also regained importance under the Roman Empire. From the temple you could look out on the sea, and see across to Athens. Supposedly if the pollution level is low you can see the Akropolis, but unfortunately Athens pollution is a problem.
We got back on our ATVs and just went exploring. The roads were pretty empty, occasionally a car or motorcycle would pass us, but we just cruised along peacefully. We stopped at different smaller beach to have brunch. When we first got there the waiter was wearing a T-shirt and shorts, but after he seated us he came back in jeans and a button down shirt and had done is hair. All dressed up for us. We had a leisurely brunch, and hopped back on our ATVs! We drove around by the coast and through the mountains till about 3pm. We filled up our tanks (4 wheelers are gas efficient!) and then returned them and headed back to the beach. The tops of my legs and my shoulders were completely sunburned, I have the funniest tan lines.
We got a gyro for dinner, took the bus back to Aegina town (with that same crazy bus driver) and took the ferry back to Athens. The new kids for the second session arrived, so we went out with a few of them for a bit. They seem great. We had the intro to class this morning; the new prof is an archeologist. Tomorrow weâ€™re going to the Akropolis!
Anyway, just wanted to tell you about my great vacation weekend.