Monday, July 14, 2008

Saronic Isles - Aegina, Hydra, Poros - Greece

Today we parted ways with our two lady friends. They would be flying to Cyprus today while my wife and I continued our stay in Athens. We had booked the one day cruise to the Saronic Isles of Poros, Hydra and Aegina that would leave from Piraeus so the coach had to pick us from the hotel at 7am. Since the breakfast at the hotel only starts at 7am, we could not have our breakfast there. When I informed the hotel about this last night, the receptionist told me that they could pack my breakfast for me before I leave for Piraeus. True enough, 2 packed breakfast bags were waiting for us in the morning. This contained sandwich, cake, bun, fruits, and a bottle each of orange juice and mineral water. That's great service.

The cruise ship left Piraeus at 8am and headed for the first stop at the island of Poros. This is a typical holiday island with plenty of souvenir shops and seafood restaurant at the harbour all within easy to reach distance.

The next stop was at Hydra. This is visually the most attractive among the 3 Saronic islands on this cruise as the harbour is horseshoe shaped with buildings all around. There are the usual souvenir shops and many tempting seafood restaurants. There are also no motor vehicles on the island (bar some small refuse collection vans) so it is great for pedestrians and the main form of transport are the sad looking donkeys.

The last stop is the island of Aegina. This is the largest of the three islands in the cruise. We opted for the bus tour round the island (the other option is for the visit to the Temple of Aphaia, one of the best preserved temples among the islands) to get a panoramic view. The tour included a sampling of the local sea food and ouzo, the Greek spirit drink consumed everywhere. I did not like it since it tasted like gripe water, I suppose it needed to be an acquired taste.
Aegina is most famous for its pistachio that is reputed to be the best quality in Greece. (However, I found the pistachio samples given out in Oia, Santorini tasted better but it was more expensive there.) So if you are a pistachio lover, this island is a must on your list. There are pistachio tress everywhere and there are so many varieties of pistachio on sale in the many stalls in town. The other major attraction in Aegina is the monastery of Agios Nektarios.

We sailed back to Pireaus and boarded the coach back to Athens. As there was a street demonstration (a common occurrence, I was told) this evening, the coach could not drop us at the hotel. In fact, many of the passengers had to drop off at a certain square and a guide walked with us to somewhere near our hotels and we made our way back.

We had dinner at Goody's, a sort of McDonald. Since there was a large group of US students probably on a field trip, the service was slow and a bit chaotic. However, the food was good. A plate of bolognese spaghetti smothered with an incredible amount of Parmesan cheese, beefburger with generous fillings of greens plus coke came to less than 10 euros. Well, the Greeks really love their cheese.

Ronald Kwok

No comments:

Post a Comment