This blog aims to give a personal and totally biased view of the Greek islands I have visited. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to the islands. Two aspects of Greek islands that I love are seeing goats wandering around and the dawn chorus of cockerels crowing. Accordingly, each island I have stayed on will have a Cockerel Count and Goatiness rating.
Unless otherwise stated, all images are my copyright and may not be reproduced or copied. Should you wish to purchase a license for commercial use of my images please follow the link to my stock photography blog where you will find details of my agents. Comments are welcomed but reviewed before publication. Enjoy your visit. Regards, David.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Aegina 2017 (Saronic Gulf):

Marine Research vessel Aegaeo at Piraeus
Whilst on my second visit to Athens in April 2017 I decided to take a day trip to the nearby island of Aegina. This wasn't to be my first time on the island as back in 2002 whilst enjoying my first ever Greek island holiday on Agistri I also made a one day visit to Aegina. That time it was a short ten minute journey as the two islands are in sight of each other. From Piraeus expect from 45 minutes to a bit over an hour depending on which of the several transport methods you choose. I passed on the faster hydrofoil and opted for being up on deck on the slower ANES Lines ferry boat Nektarios. Outside of peak season don't worry too much about booking tickets -just head down to the harbour where all the operators have ticket offices and signs displaying departure and return times. In 2017 my return ticket was circa 13 euros.

Being up on deck meant I was able to take photos of the harbour as we got under way and I was
Carriage rides past the Panagitsa church on Aegina
lucky enough to capture the Marine Research vessel Aegaeo. Operated by the Greek Institute of Oceanography this is a high profile vessel that is involved in all sorts of research work -both around Greece and further afield. I didn't, to be fair, know any of that at the time but the power of the internet worked wonders when I got home. After a thoroughly enjoyable crossing (during which I yet again failed to spot a single dolphin) we were soon docking at Aegina Town.

After capturing images of passengers disembarking from Nektarios it was on to the first Aegina landmark in the form of charming whitewashed chapel of Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas -patron saint of fishermen). That duly photographed it was out of the harbour onto the main seafront road. Despite the fifteen year gap since my last visit it all seemed very familiar though what I hadn't remembered were the number of horse drawn carriages waiting at the harbour entrance to give visitors rides round the town. Maybe they weren't there back then because it's hard to imagine forgetting such an obvious photo opportunity. It's maybe a bit of a photo cliche but this is just the sort of image guide books and the like are going to buy to illustrate "Aegina". The question was where to capture them at their optimum and the answer soon presented itself when walking along the seafront for a few minutes to the impressive looking Panagitsa church. Here it was then, great looking church with horse and carriage going past. Easy. Well not really as I stood on that spot for a very long time waiting for a carriage to go past (and for there not to be traffic going the other way and blocking the view). And people. People constantly walking in front of my camera (they obviously didn't realise the work of art that was in progress!).

The Temple of Apollo on Aegina island
Carriage and church picture finally caught I headed off back along the seafront and up the hill at the other end of town. What was drawing me on was an ancient looking column which I vaguely remembered from last time. I soon realised that you cannot just access this from the road and backtracked to the foot of the hill (Hill of Kolona). There you will find the entrance to not just a museum but a whole archeological site full of fascinating excavated ruins from a whole variety of periods. The column is, in fact, the last remaining part of the ancient Temple of Apollo (dating from circa the 5th or 6th century BC -depending on your information source). There's a modest charge for entrance (4 euros when I was there) but it was worth every cent for such a fascinating site. Informative signage throughout gives you all the information about what you are looking at. I wonder how many visitors to Aegina miss this experience just minutes away from the town centre? I certainly did last time I was there.

Back into the town centre and exploring further I came across a lovely old building which turned out
The historic Markellos Tower in Aegina Town

to be the Markellos Tower. Dates for this also vary according to source but lets just go with 17th century for now. Back when Greece was fighting the War of Independence (against Turkey) this tower was one of the seats of Government and, indeed, Aegina itself was for a time the Capital of Greece.

There only really remained the importance business of a late lunch. Aegina Town has a plethora of eating places all along the seafront and it was great to be able to sit with my lunch and the obligatory bottle of Mythos and just watch the world go by. And then it was time for another enjoyable (dolphin free) crossing back to Piraeus.

Aegina Town seafront is certainly busy and bustling with tourists but during my visit I managed to find some fascinating subjects to photograph. I certainly cannot offer a Cockerel Count or Goatiness rating for Aegina as that would take a longer visit and the time to explore the island further.
Regards, David.

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