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Poros 2007 -
Our September Fortnight in Greece

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'Artemis', Aegina and Aphaia's Temple -
24th September 2007


  • A Voyage to Aegina.
  • Shopping (and Eating) in Aegina.
  • The Turkish Tower and the Old Town.
  • The Temple of Aphaia.
  • Aghia Marina : To Walk or Not To Walk.
  • Aegina - No Museum and Three Churches.
  • Poros and the Baltsera.

Jenny at the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina
Jenny at the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina

A Voyage to Aegina :

Frances and Dennis had decided that they would top off the two visits - to Athens and to the Argolis sites - with a visit to their favourite island Aegina. We got up at 7:15 a.m. to be ready to meet Dennis and Frances at 9:30 a.m., then bought tickets for our favourite ferry 'Artemis' for the voyage to Aegina. En route to Aegina I managed at last to take a good picture up the valley leading to the volcano's crater. Apparently you can get a taxi to the top and walk down after inspecting the crater and its fumaroles. Dennis knew I was interested in lumps of military concrete so pointed out two towers (artillery or observation) further along the Methana peninsula. I got a good shot of the now-eroded ancient harbour at Aegina and the single standing column (the Colonna) of the Temple of Apollo north of the main town. Apparently there is a good museum nearby. We got off the 'Artemis' fairly rapidly, then made good time across the harbour edge 'by pass' towards the bus stands. There was an impressive building overlooking the harbour which turned out to be the nineteenth century sponge merchants' headquarters or guild hall. Dennis was amused at my determination to try to get details of all the historical buildings in sight, but got me to the ticket kiosk, where Frances's knowledge of Greek got us bus tickets for Agia Marina and the Temple of Aphaia.

Volcano Crater, Methana
Volcano Crater, Methana
Colonna of Aegina, from 'Artemis'
Colonna of Aegina, from 'Artemis'
Ancient Harbour of Aegina, from 'Artemis'
Ancient Harbour of Aegina

Shopping (and Eating) in Aegina...

Determined to show us something of Aegina and its shops, Frances then escorted us onto a street parallel with the harbour front but about a hundred yards further inland. There were indeed various lovely shops, notably a jeweller's where I saw some unaffordable but beautiful pieces of amber. Frances was looking for new cushion covers, Dennis wanted an art supply shop as he needed more paint and paper for his hobby. We then went to the Fish Market Taverna (it has no other name) beside the fish market. There we had what Frances and Dennis termed a snack, an assortment of fish, including whitebait, octopus and squid. The whitebait was a bit bigger than normal whitebait and tasted delicious. Jenny, bless her, blinked at the wrong moment as I was taking a picture of the Taverna, her and Dennis, as she did in so many of my attempts to get a good picture of her. However, the food was good and well-cooked on a pavementside grill. Dennis and Frances admitted that the maps of Aegina island are not very good, the tablecloth having one of the best on it. Nothing loath, I asked if I could have the paper tablecloth, a grinning waiter producing a new one folded up for me to take away. I think that the Greeks in Aegina are used to crazy English tourists...

Fish Market Taverna, Aegina
Fish Market Taverna, Aegina
Aegina Fish Market
Aegina Fish Market
Old Turkish Tower, Aegina
Old Turkish Tower, Aegina

The Turkish Tower and the Old Town...

Aegina is one of several places (Poros, Nauplion and Trizina being others) that lay claim to being the home of the Greek Parliament, with Aegina and Nauplion really having that entitlement. We were guided by Dennis to see the old Turkish tower where Governor Kapodistrias and his advisers were sworn in and from where they initially administered Greece. I also managed to get a view of Jenny and Frances, with Dennis striding out in front, in one of the back streets. We passed an excavation that included part of the Classical-Era city wall and came near but not beside the Orphanage, a structure gifted by wealthy merchants after the tremendous loss of life in the War of Independence. I think that Greeks value their families partly because the Turks massacred so many thousands of people - the only nation with greater family losses in the past two hundred years is probably the Israelis who survived the Holocaust. Dennis and Frances left us to go back on the ferry with their purchases, whilst I and Jenny found a friendly Taverna with decent toilets, then went on the bus to Aphaia's Temple. I was amused to see that the famous orange validation box was broken and the mechanism partly removed; it seemed that Aegina was not as efficient as Athens, whilst in Poros you buy a ticket from the driver and that's it.

Dennis Strides Ahead in Aegina
Dennis Strides Ahead in Aegina
Ruins of Ancient City Wall
Ruins of Ancient City Wall
Or You Can Go By Carriage...
Or You Can Go By Carriage...

The Temple of Aphaia...

The bus to Aghia Marina runs right across the mountainous centre of the island, near the huge and now little-used Monastery of Agios Nektarios. The Monastery is so large because it and its adjacent town were the safest places to be, in the days when piracy was almost a way of life in the islands. Strongholds like the old Turkish tower on the coast were frequently besieged by Turkish and Greek corsairs. It was only after the War of Independence that the population of Aegina became confident enough to expand their town to its current importance. Jenny and myself were waiting slightly impatiently for the bus to reach the Temple of Aphaia, but the scenery and the sun were too good to ignore for long. We got off by the Temple opposite a small Taverna, keeping that for later as we went to the site ticket office for our 5 Euro tickets to enter the site. Sunlit, very hot, ourselves with one small bottle of water... but the Temple is beautiful, the way the Naos Poseidson on Kalavria would have looked before the Hydrans robbed it. I achieved excellent pictures of the Temple and (thanks to Aphaia, I'm sure) a really good picture of Jenny. The view from the Temple to the northwest was incredible; I took a picture of the Gulf of Salamis and (but for an olive tree) would have had Piraeus as well. It's easy to see why the Athenians distrusted the strong city-state of Aegina and why they eventually conquered it, after Aeginiote raiders had attacked Piraeus.

Jenny Contemplating the Divinities
Jenny Contemplating the Divinities
Rainwater Settling Tanks...
Rainwater Settling Tanks...
...And the Temple Cistern
...And the Temple Cistern


Temple of Aphaia : Interior Sanctuary
View North to Salamis and Piraeus
View North to Salamis and Piraeus
A Final Look at Aphaia
A Final Look at Aphaia

Aghia Marina : To Walk or Not To Walk...

Alas, disputes occurred at the Temple, for Jenny wanted to walk down the switchback of roads to Aghia Marina and I was very definitely against it. We got some Coca Colas from the snack bar/Taverna opposite, gaining shade and rest in the heat of the day. The ferry would be in Aegina at 7:40 p.m., so although it was mid-afternoon, I did not want to risk getting stuck in Aegina overnight. In retrospect, I was probably still shaken by the Athens incident, but steadfastly stayed where I was with Jenny until the bus came from Aegina. The driver thought we were a bit lazy not to have gone down to the village, but in the event the decision was wise. Jenny was rather dismayed by the hairpin descent and the steepness of the road, even when the bus ran out of the town, turned in a rather awkward lay-by and charged back into Aghia Marina for its return run to Aegina. Some very exhausted tourists seen at the Temple scrambled aboard in Aegina, which was a typical Greek seaside town and not really a patch on beautiful Poros.

Aegina - No Museum and Three Churches...

Back, then, to Aegina and a major failure; we got to the Colonna and the Museum (3 Euro a head entry) - and it was after 3 p.m., so both were shut. I had to apologise to Jenny, then went back and bought her an ice-cream. We walked south along the harbour front past the yacht marina to the Church of St. Mary Metropolitan, with some very lovely Byzantine-style frescos. The Church apparently was used by Kapodistrias's government for a service of dedication, so there was an interesting link to the history of modern Greece. The Church also had comfortable seats and there was a fair amount for Jen to look at. After that, we drifted along the streets we had visited earlier with Frances and Dennis, using up time and eating salted pistachio nuts. Aegina is the major producer of these nuts, which are a delight when fresh and on a hot day, so we rather enjoyed ourselves. I found people going into another little Church, this one also dedicated to St. Mary, checking the time with them before heading for the harbour in the growing dusk. It was getting cooler, but I peeled the husks off more pistachio nuts for Jenny, before heading along the pier. A false alarm with a different ferry (this one heading to Piraeus) then we found and visited another tiny chapel on the pier, run for the locval fishermen and administered by a group of hospitable elderly ladies. I asked their permission to take a picture and left a small donation. Soon after, the 'Artemis' backed up to the pier, we got aboard and were on our way back to Poros.

Guildhall of Sponge Merchants
Guildhall of Sponge Merchants
Church of St. Mary Metropolitan
Church of St. Mary Metropolitan
Interior of St. Mary Metropolitan
Interior of St. Mary Metropolitan

By the time we got back to Poros it was full dark, Jenny was asleep on my shoulder and neither of us could face a big meal. The Baltsera provided us with a piece of chocolate cake (Jenny) and a chocolate croissant (me) with hot chocolate and the obligatory glasses of water. We then made our way back, tired but happy, to the Saga Hotel.

Little Aghia Maria Church
Little Aghia Maria Church
Aegina Harbourfront
Aegina Harbourfront
Fishermen's Chapel Interior
Fishermen's Chapel Interior

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© 2007 and 2008 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.