Who is aspiring to the delights of sun and warm sand thought naturally about Greece, and in particular its islands. Proximity, warm welcome, rich past, charm of island life is for many the real first experience of independent travel. The most difficult for the traveler is to choose an island! And since I did not have enough time to go to the most known locations, such as Santorini or Mykonos, I chose an organized tour from Athens to visit the nearby Hydra, Poros and Aegina Islands.
After a pickup at my hotel in the early morning, we head to the port of Piraeus and ship to the island of Hydra. During the cruise, our charming guide gives us some information about the islands which we will visit during the day. The weather is just beautiful and the air of the sea feels great.
A little bit later, we enter the port of Hydra, whose amphitheater form served as a safe spot for the Pirates of the Saronic Gulf.
Located near the island of Spetses, Hydra is best known for its small colorful town full of narrow and charming streets, picturesque and traditional houses and mansions, silent witness of a long and eventful history. The people of Hydra live largely of tourism, but there are also fishermen and farmers on the island. Hydra is also home to many artists and foreigners who have settled their home there. Because it is so close to Athens, many islanders go to work in the capital during winter. We land and our guide informed us of some activities we can do and the shops and cafes to visit and let us explore the area for about two hours.
I take the opportunity to explore the streets at the top of the city and take some pictures. I then go back down to the harbor and eat something before embarking on the next island. When we get to Poros, the smallest of the three islands, we have 1 hour of free time.
I walk again into the charming narrow streets around when a storm breaks out. It lasts only 10 minutes, during which I sit down on a covered terrace and eat a delicious icecream. Before leaving, I buy some caramelized almonds (my guilty pleasure) that I eat on the deck of our boat while enjoying the warm breeze as we sail to our final destination, the big Island of Aegina.
Upon our arrival, we can join two guided tours to choose from: the Temple of Aphaia or the Monastery of Saint Nectaire. The pricing for both tours is not included and I finally choose the cheapest one, the monastery dedicated to St. Nectarios of Aegina, an extremely popular saint of the Orthodox Church who died in 1920 and was canonized in 1961.
Today, 14 nuns still live in the monastery, celebrating a panegyric in honor of the saint every November 9, the day of his birthday. Thousands of people from all over Greece then meet in the church built in the immediate vicinity of the monastery. It is the largest in Greece, so that it can accommodate the crowds of pilgrims. This sanctuary was built in 1982 on the model of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (nowadays’ Istanbul). It has two large towers and four rows of crowned arches red windows. The interiors are beautiful with colorful frescoes and an intense smell of incense, but pictures are not allowed. Then it is time to go back to the harbour and embark on our return to Athens. A Greek folk show with singers and dancers in costume will lead the trip to the port of Piraeus. Upon arrival, we are transferred to the center of Athens, where our excursion ends.
It’s a beautiful day I’ve spent today on this blue sea. The trips were not too long and we had enough time for my taste to visit the area. I look forward to return to Greece to make this time a tour of the most famous islands!