For my 22nd birthday we decided on visiting another island, as it would never be possible for me to visit the beach for my birthday in England. After looking into it and not wanting to be sitting on a ferry for another five hours as we had been for Mykonos and for Naxos, we found Aegina only an hour ferry away from Athens and just as beautiful as the other islands that were much further away.
Also, it proved cheaper with it being closer, but also having our ISIC (international student card) cards gave us 50% off on ferries. So, with a group of 7 we booked our ferry and apartment and soon the time came to visit this beautiful island.
When we arrived on the island we hired two cars (which I would highly recommend anyone doing as it is quite a large island with monuments and sights spread out). We were there from Friday till Sunday and it was only 20 euros each, and this meant we could see more of the island.
After dropping off our bags we decided to visit the Cathedral of Saint Nectarios (or Agios Nektarios) which was so beautiful. This monastery had also only been built in the 20th century so wasn't as old as many of the other religious buildings we had come across in Greece. The flowers that surrounded the walk down provided splashes of colour perfect for taking photos in-front. Due to it being a religious monastery we all had to borrow these long skirts to wrap around our own clothes, which were actually pretty comfy.
After this we drove around 20 minutes across the island to the Temple of Aphaia, which almost looked like a smaller Acropolis, but with a beautiful view of the see and the many pistachio trees down below on the island. Due to this attraction being up on a hill you could see to Athens from there, which truly shows how close it really is.
With it still being around 25 degrees in October, we all decided to make the most of it and head to the sea for a swim and to relax on the beach for a bit. We found a pretty much empty beach, apart from around 5 other people, that also had beautifully clear water. (However, this was around 10/15 mins drive away from our apartment, so we decided to head back to a beach/ harbour near our apartment for sunset in order to have a couple of beers without anyone having to be the designated drivers.
With it being towards the very end of the season it is quite strange walking along with not many people around, with the restaurant’s being pretty much empty – although, it is almost the perfect time to visit somewhere like this as you are still able to swim and relax but can also walk up hills and see sights without becoming too warm.
The next day us girls made breakfast/ brunch while the boys went to watch the rugby down by the harbour. This meant that we had the upper hand on what we would do today.
We decided on the Wildlife Hospital, this seemed like a relaxed activity that we would all enjoy, so we headed on our way… trying to rely on google maps to get us there, as it was positioned in the middle of the island which is incredibly hilly. But, the girl’s car managed to get there, however, on arriving we realised it was closed to the public. With the boys saying that they were just “5 minutes away” so to “wait there” we decided to pull up into the space in front of the gate to the wildlife hospital and wait. Little did we know we would in fact be waiting around 40 minutes. While trying to get in contact with the boy’s car to make sure they were still alive we continually got told to wait, they wouldn’t be long and then as time passed we soon got stressed out phone calls saying they were lost on a dirt track somewhere in the island, with the maps suggesting they were only 10 minutes away… When they finally got to us alive they seemed to all be thankful they were still alive after Alex’s directions had taken them god knows where.
So, having wasted the most half of the day due to the boys we moved on to this chapel that was just a short hike away from where we parked up our cars but again provided some beautiful views. With Alex and Mitch climbing up some dangerous rocks, we could again see who truly valued their lives.
Keeping in the theme of religion and hiking we went to this village that contained only old chapel’s, this village is called Paleahora, which actually translates as old village. This was really interesting as there were dozens of chapels on these rocks as you made your way up to the top and each of them was in a different state of abandonment, with some having pictures and alters still in position as though they were still ready to take Sunday Mass. This also includes twin chapels of Saint’s George and Demetrius, here was were a medieval fortress once stood. I would highly recommend visiting this as it makes you think about what it would have been like when people still visited these chapels or whether there would be houses surrounding them, or whether these little chapels may have once housed people of the island?
After hiking for the majority of the day, we decided we deserved a swim in the sea and headed to the little beach nearest to our house. After seeing the sunset here again, we walked back, stopping off at the shop to cook ourselves some dinner and grab some alcohol we arrived back home. That evening when we had headed out to the kiosk, we came across a litter of kittens which were so adorable and seemed to be treated well here.
I would recommend Aegina, as not only is it close to Athens but it also has a lot to see and do. So this allows for a weekend get away that won't leave you with the only option being to head to the beach. It also has some amazing Pistachio nuts and products made from pistachio’s (pesto's, spreads etc) as they are all grown on this island. (So of course - save some money to buy some of these)
Article by Elly Babe (@elly_babexxx)
Edited and published by Elly Babe
We are three Brighton University students who have been given the opportunity to study at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. This blog will be our way of sharing our experiences of living and studying in Greece, plus will include tips and advice for those also looking to study abroad or even just visit Athens.
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