Aegina island: the place where the best pistachio grows

I am looking at Aegina every day from my terrace. Sometimes it is clearly visible and I can recognize the town of Vagia on the coast. At other times it is not visible at all because of the haze and at night I watch the shimmering lights. At first, I thought I was looking at the other side of the Saronic Gulf, maybe the Peloponnesian peninsula. But then I saw the map and I decided to the one-day trip to the Aegina island.

I woke up early and travelled through the sleeping city to the port of Piraeus. Finding a ferry was not difficult. I did not have my ticket yet but I was calm. There was no season, and I kept some time reserve. On the way out of the subway, I was walking slowly, observing the place and bought a koukouli for breakfast. What was my surprise when I noticed that the ferry leaves earlier. I quickly bought a ticket and jumped into the ferry.

The ferry is not a sailboat. It is a noisy and smelly boat. After a while, I hide inside. During this time of the year, the boat was nearly empty. A small number of tourist were travelling to the island, plus it was Friday, a weekday. It was a good choice, I avoided crowds of Athenians, who usually visit during the weekends.

 

Aegina island

 

I planned to hike the trails on the island. In the harbour was a map of the island so I made a picture to not get lost because my mobile app is not showing the trails. Before I started my hike I visited the ancient excavations. The area itself is not maintained well. The signs do not contain enough information. It was not clear if the entrance is free or not. So I just started walking to the ruins when I heard a voice shouting at me that the admission is 2 euros.

 

Aegina, archeological site

Aegina, Kolonos

Aegina, archeological site int Colonos

 

I am trying to see the ancient city in the ruins. Where the houses and temple of Apollon were. Later on the internet, I found an information, that all found valuables are placed the British Museum.

Finding start of marked trails was difficult. According to the map, the trail should start just outside the city. However, when I reached the point where I should start following the trail, I did not find any sign and the only road was closed with a big gate. I had no other choice, only to continue on the road. I walked through the Tzikides village to another called Pachia Rachi to find trail number 3. I saw a sign of the trail number 4 and decided to go further in the village and have a look there. Luckily I found my trail and started a nice walk between green hills.

 

Aegina, Pachia Rachi

Aegina, trail

 

I am descending. Surrounded by silence. The path follows the dry creek. Probably during the winter rains, there is some water. I am observing the birds and small flowers next to the road.

It supposed to be sunny. Instead of nice warm weather, it is windy, cloudy and rainy. I have to laugh. It seems the rain follows me into the mountains every time. I am in a good mood. walking with a wooden stick literally signing in the rain.

 

Aegina, nature

 

In one moment I am surrounded by green hills and the only building I can see is a small church. Is it possible? So close to the Athens? There were horses on the crossroads. I tried to walk aside but I was like a magnet for the foal. The animal followed me so closely that sometimes he poked me with his nose.  But after a few minutes, he returned to his mother.

 

Aegina church

Aegina, horses

 

It is hard for me to read the trail between many other goat trails. I am the only one around. Not a sound of civilizations. The nature here is very nice. Rocky and green and unfimiliar to my eyes. I reach the stream and I am lost. Somewhere uphill I hear voices and far away on the opposite hill I see the goat man. I decided to sit down for a while and eat my snack. Beautifull flowers grow around me. Blue, violet and yellow.

 

Aegina, on the hill

Aegina on the trail

Aegina, bay

 

I finally found the trail again and ascended to the old water tank. I decided to go further to the top of the hill. And then I lost my way for good. I tried maybe five times to follow different tracks. With no luck. So I walked through the thistle and stones until I reached a paved road for cars. The other side of the island is different. With deep valleys. I can hear the goat bells and the ocean from distance.

Once I’ve reached the paved road I decided not to go on the trail again. I am passing through Lazarides village. A lot of barking dogs. It scares me a bit. After some minutes walking alone, I reach the road to the monastery. The white building is contrasting with green hills and gardens. It is a very peaceful place.

 

Aegina, monastery

Aegina

 

I followed the track to the monastery and church of Saint Nektarios.  It is five a clock. I have only a few minutes to light a candle and thanks. I had to leave for the port very soon. After few meters, I am stopped by a man who was selling pistachio nuts in front of the church.  He offered me a ride on his small motorbike to the port.  He helped me a lot plus he gave me packaging of his delicious pistachio nuts. I am sure these are the best pistachio in the World. At least for now.

 

Aegina, church of saint Nektarios

Aegina island, church of saint  Nektarios

 

I walked about 27 Km and  I had very good time. Back home I am reading more about the history of the island. It was the first place in Greece to adopt the use of coined money. One of the biggest rivals to the ancient Athens and famous trade port. Twice the island was under Venice control and the place was ransacked by corsair Barbarossa. He killed all men and sold all kids and women to the slavery.  Most of the residents left during and after the Second World War and the original capital city is a village of ghost today. It is a very famous place for weekends and vacation and many people who live in Athens have a summer house here.

 

Aegina, port

 

If you are planning to visit the island of Aegina and see as much as you can, probably the best thing is to rent a car or motorbike. I walked all day but did not have the time to visit the temple of Afaie, which is the second oldest temple built in Dorian style in the whole Greece. And do not forget to buy the famous pistachio.

Reaching the island

You can easily reach the island on a sailing boat or by ferry from the Piraeus port in Athens. The voyage takes from 40 minutes up to 1 hour and 45 minutes. The tickets cost 8 euro for slow ferry and 14 euro for the fast Flying Dolphin. I did not book the ticket in advance and bought it before departure in the harbour. Leave a time reserve for yourself, the timetables do not have to be correct.

For more information about the ferries follow the link: http://www.aeginagreece.com/aegina-island/boat-timetables-aegina-boat-information-aegina/

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