It’s great to have friends and even more wonderful when they are all over the world—and you get to visit them! It so happens that my college roommate of three years and one of my most loved friends is from Greece. More specifically, her family lives in Voula, a town on the edge of the Saronic Gulf, across from the island of Aegina.
David and I had been to Greece a few times already and immediately fell in love with the Mediterranean water, the fresh food, and the many amazing islands. We actually looked into having a Greek wedding, but the logistical and bureaucratic issues (dealing with three countries: US, Romania, and Greece) put a damper on that plan. Instead, we decided to have a US wedding, then enjoy Greece with family as the first stop on our European honeymoon.
From the international airport, we usually catch the X96 bus which takes about an hour to get to Voula but only costs a few Euros. The ticket kiosk is just outside the airport doors, so it’s easy to find. We settled in first, then picked up my family from the airport the following day.
The first point of interest was, of course, the Acropolis and downtown Athens. We took our time climbing the many stone steps, and admiring the history that seem to emanate from every ancient column and statue. We watched The Changing of the Guards at the Hellenic Parliament and got overwhelmed by flocks of pigeons used to tourists feeding them. We strolled through old streets, and rested on quiet park benches. I snapped a shot of David’s mom admiring intricate artwork and jewelry in through the window of a shop side-by-side with a sweet stray dog who longed not for artwork but for some air conditioning.
For lunch, we headed over to a little restaurant we knew about from our friends: Ristorante Scholarchio, a traditional Greek taverna with amazing deals on delicious food (foodies, check out some of these traditional Greek fares). We opted for the fix price menu which included an assortment of yumminess for all to try.
The green island of Aegina was our next destination. We took the ferry from the port of Pireus and about one hour later, we unloaded onto the sunny shore.
We stayed at a B&B called Aphrodite Art Hotel which had views of the Temple of Apollo to our right. For a good traditional seafood meal, we chose Ouzeri o Skotadis. The little taverna had a nice view of the port and of a small fresh market. You know you’re in a traditional place when the octopi lace the awnings!—Greeks hang octopi to dry before preparing them. The seafood was delicious and fresh, but my little nephew shed some tears when he saw the fish’s gaping mouth and eyes staring at him from the plate.
The island of Aegina is quite sizeable and it offers many attractions: from beaches to quaint bars, to architectural gems, to spiritual dwellings. We took a bus across the island to St. Nektarios Monastery – Holy Trinity Aigina (an early 20th century place of worship) and continued on to visit the Temple of Aphaia (dating back to 480 BC and still showcasing some amazing Doric columns). The road meandered through bountiful pistachio and olive groves, away from the tourist-laced beaches to the quiet of ancient countryside.
Our visit to the island came to an end too soon, but we all felt the warmth of Greece and of a great time spent with family and friends.
Next stop, Paris!