Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Greece - Aegina

The poor islands got short shrift from us. They certainly don't deserve it. Greece has a plethora of islands, all lovely in their own ways. Most people who have spent some time in Greece will have a favorite island or two - personally, my knees go weak for Milos, which is stunning and usually fairly quiet. Milos is in the Cyclades, so you're looking at a 5 - 8 hour ferry ride from Athens. If you have the time, go for it. Rent a car when you get there and zip all over the small island. They have stunning beaches and white rock formations and also some old catacombs that you can crawl around in, much to my delight.

We were short on time this trip, so we opted for Aegina instead, a mere 40 minute ferry ride from the mainland. We hired a cab to drive us up to the temple of Athena and he kindly made it a bit of a tour for us, stopping at a monastery on the way down. I was wearing a dress, so I didn't enter the monastery and frankly I was a little uncomfortable even standing in front to get some pictures. Rules vary from monastery to monastery. Some won't allow women at all, some will but require various standards of dress, some will even provide cover ups. As a rule, dress modestly and bring a long skirt to wear while you walk around, to avoid any hint of disrespect.

greece - aegina - taxi
{aegina - taxi}

greece - aegina - temple of athena
{greece - aegina - temple of athena}

greece - aegina - monastary
{aegina - monastery}

greece - aegina - monastary
{aegina - monastery detail}

It was incredibly hot, so we stopped in a small cafe and drank frappes under a giant fig tree.

greece - aegina
{aegina - cafe}

greece - aegina - frappe
{aegina - frappe}

Frappes in Greece are a thing of joy. Nescafe (I was skeptical too, at first)  is whipped frantically with a bit of milk and then it all somehow coalesces into this foamy, icy deliciousness. During summer some cafes offer them as ice cream floats. Highly recommend.

If you make it to an island, you should probably gorge yourself on seafood. I never order seafood in Athens, even if I do happen to find a restaurant that serves it. Greece prides itself on fresh food, and you won't see many seafood options unless you are near a good port. In fact, most restaurants print disclosures on the menu, so there will be an asterisk next to some seafood options and it tells you that they were made from frozen seafood. I don't know if this is legally required or just niceness, but I appreciate it.

At a port, find the fish market (easily identifiable by the smell) and then choose a restaurant nearby. Choices will vary from island to island, but you'll generally find whole fried whitefish (very lightly battered, eat them like french fries, bones and all) and mussels saganaki, which is fresh mussels + cheese. Keep your mind open and ask the waiter to help you order and you won't be disappointed.


  1. one of the best meals i've ever had was fresh squid from a restaurant on aegina. i still dream about it all the time.

  2. Oh how I LOVE Aegina. My husband and I day-tripped there during our week in Athens last summer, and it was perfection!


  3. the idea of eating fresh fish by the water sounds amazing...as do those frappes. such beautiful pictures!

  4. I've never had the good fortune of visiting Greece, but your recaps leave me itching to fly there immediately. My dad is thinking about a trip there in August, though...I'll definitely be lending him your recommendations! Thanks for all your insider tips.

  5. fresh seafood? *swoon*

    love those shots....even more lust to go to greece now

  6. Oh, I want to go there! All the architectural detail is beautiful.

    I think I'll point my sister to your Greece posts, when she finally starts planning her trip. She's wanted to visit for a few years now.

  7. What a lovely trip! I am SO glad you mentioned modest dress for the monastery. I have been to North Africa several times, and it is terrible to see the buses of scantily-clad tourists who visit the mosques. They have cover-ups for them, but still. The whole culture is modest, and most tourists pretty much completely disregard it, which I think is so disrespectful.

    Your photos are gorgeous... they're totally reminding me of North Africa.

  8. I am thinking of heading to Greece next Easter. I know it won't be beach weather, but I can only imagine how amazing it would be to spend that holiday there. Any recommendations for a great island to visit that time of year (ie, an island that has more to offer than amazing beaches)?

  9. @ Vanessa, I spent Easter on Crete one year and it was fabulous. Actually hot enough to sit on the beach and enjoy it, although the water was still a bit chilly. There was a beautiful candlelit procession to the church the night before Easter and it was perfect. They also celebrate with fireworks. You're right - Easter is probably the best holiday to spend in Greece. Crete is larger and has an airport, which is a huge advantage if you don't want to deal with an overnight ferry ride.

    Just remember that almost everything will be closed up on Easter Sunday and Monday, so plan accordingly.

    Apparently Santorini is a good place for Easter festivities as well, but I've never been there.

  10. yum, the mussels & fish sound delicious! would love to visit greece someday, but it'll have to wait till we save up a bit. for now, i live vicariously through you!

  11. Milos is absolutely lovely!! Otherwise I'd recommend Kalymnos (I've been 8 times!), and Syros... All prettiful!

  12. That frappe looks delicious and refreshing! I love iced anything! I've never been to Greece, so looking at your photos makes me wish to go!


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