Happy Easter to my friends and family back home! I spent the day with the closest person I can call my family while in Europe, Mike. We took a cruise to the islands of Aegina, Poros, and Hydra. This was our first time on a cruise ship, and what better way to do it than in Greece to some of the most beautiful islands of the Saronic Gulf. Did I mention my friend, Mike and I, danced the traditional Greek dances on the way to the first island. We certainly shattered the barrier of fear each of us had dancing in front of a bunch of people we didn’t know.
The first stop was Poros. Poros is the smallest of the three islands in the Saronic Gulf. We only had about 40 minutes on the island as there were still two others to see. The island is a small Greek island-pair in the southern part of the Saronic Gulf, at a distance about 58 km (31 nautical miles) south from Piraeus and separated from the Peloponnese by a 200-meter wide sea channel, with the town of Galatas on the mainland across the strait. Its surface is about 31 square kilometres (12 sq mi) and it has 3,780 inhabitants. I did like stopping here because it was colorful and peaceful. Hard to argue with that.
Hydra, I would say, was my favorite island because of its amphitheatre-like port. Looking at
this aerial image of the port itself, it’s easy to see what I mean. Mike and I walked around the port and through a little bit of the town, which reminded me of the Amalfi Coast with all its white and blue majestic beauty. Hydra is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece, located in the Aegean Sea between the Saronic Gulf and the Argolic Gulf. It is separated from the Peloponnese by narrow strip of water. In ancient times, the island was known as Hydrea (Υδρέα, derived from the Greek word for “water”), which was a reference to the springs on the island.
Determined to make best use of our time on the island, which is one of the nicest in the Saronic Gulf, we took to the rocky shoreline and prepared ourselves for what was about to happen next. You see, Mike and I are very smart, but we like to take risks. So without thinking twice, we took off our clothes and jumped, cannonball style into the Aegean Sea. To say that jumping into the sea so far away from reality was memorable is an understatement, it was unforgettable and exhilarating.
After a traditional Greek lunch on the ship and an afternoon siesta, we docked at an island
called Aegina. Aegina is home to the world’s most successful pistachio harvesting. Thousands of Greek citizens make their way to island during harvest season to assist the locals with the duties of picking the nuts from the trees. We also visited the temple of Althea, one third of Greece’s sacred ancient temples. The temple is from the 5th century and one of the best-preserved works of architecture in the world. The temple is located within a sanctuary complex dedicated to the goddess, Aphaia on the Greek island of Aegina, which lies in the Saronic Gulf. It stands on a c. 160 m peak on the eastern side of the island approximately 13 km east by road from the main port.
We also saw the monastery of Saint Nektarios. This was built in the early 20th century. The saint was the last true saint of Greece and this monastery is considered the orthodox center of the world.
An hour and a half mellow cruise across the quiet sea marked the end of my illustrious journey. I never thought for a million years that I would spend Easter on a boat, in front of 5th century Byzantine architecture, and on the Aegean Sea.
It really still hasn’t sunk in yet that I was there, because in that moment I swear I felt infinite. I loved the cruise I went in today for many reasons. I couldn’t wrap my head around the ancient ruins, and still haven’t been able to in Athens, either.
Throw in a picture perfect sunset on the water to make the trip back to Athens all the better. What an unforgettable day this was, I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. I still can’t believe it was real.
Come back tomorrow for more thoughts on Athens. Also, see my pictures here. Enjoy!