Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Hellas Calling - Day 5


Upon my return from the day tour last evening, I booked a cruise tour for next day from the hotel reception. Again, I have to wake up early morning to be ready for pick up at 7:30 am. In the morning we reached the Piraeus to board the “Agean Glory”. This cruise ship will take a trip to the islands of Poros – Hydra – Aegnia. 

The Agean Glory was a luxurious cruise ship of medium size. It had disco, bar, restaurant, swimming pool and a big deck area.  I settled myself at a cozy location on the deck, it was sunny and windy. Slowly the cruise ship started to move out of the dock area. Blue sea and the surroundings were really beautiful.

First stop – island of Poros.

Poros is the island of peace, romance and jauntiness. It is overgrown with pine trees which reach the rugged shores or the sandy beaches. The residents of Poros are like all islands, spontaneous, decent and hospitable. It’s Historic Clock is imposing from the distance on the highest top of the hill, among prickly pears and pine trees. It was built in 1927, it is visible from every part and it is the jewel of the town.

At the center of town you can find the archaeological museum, the library, and on the beach there's an open air cinema. There are many little taverns spread among the backstreets of Poros.  Along the pier, the visitor can see plenty of cafeterias, restaurants, tourist shops, many bars  and discos with foreign and Greek music.

On the outskirts of the town in Northwest there are the Military and Navy facilities, that is where today the pre-training of the sailors takes place. Moreover the visitors can enjoy the wonderful view that the nature offers.

Moving on to the island of Hydra

No Cars, No Mopeds, Only Donkeys For Hire!

One of the stipulations of the National Preservation Order that encompasses the entire island is that there are no motorised vehicles or mopeds allowed on Hydra Island, with the exception of three municipal trucks. Everyone gets about on foot or by donkey or mule and by sea taxi.

The island of Hydra is situated approximately 44 nautical miles south-west of from the Athens port of Piraeus in the Gulf of Saronikos. The hills of the Peloponnese can be clearly seen across the Saronic Gulf to the north of the island. Hydra is about 23km long and at its widest point almost 5.5km. The main harbour and town is also known as Hydra.

There are three small museums on Hydra Island and all are well worth a visit to get a feel for how life was lived on Hydra in the 17th & 18th Centuries. Although not large or on the scale you would find in a large city, they have more than enough information and some beautiful exhibits to illustrate Hydra's illustrious history. These are Museum of Historical Archives, Lazaros Koundouriotis and Ecclesiastical Museum.

Island of Aegina

Aegina is a place of rich history. You will find signs of that everywhere: in the archeological sites, in the temple of Aphaia, in the archaeological, historical and folkore museum, when you wander through the medieval village of Paleochora, visit the historic monasteries or look at the imposing mansions and the building of the Kapodistrian (the first governor of Greece) period. Most of the sights on Aegina are easy accessible by motor bike or rental car.

One of the most visited sites on Aegina is the church of Agios Nektarios. Agios Nektarios of Aegina (1846-1920), is one of the most widely known Greek Orthodox Saints. He was officially recognized as a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1961. Each month, thousands of people visit the tomb of Agios Nektarios, to pray to him, or ask for his blessings, which always seem to be answered. His memory is celebrated by the Church on his nameday the 9th November.

 Aegina is the island of the pistachio nuts. They are called in Greece: Fistikia. The harvest of the pistachio is celebrated every year in September with "The Aegina Fistiki Festival". During these 4 days of celebration you can buy all kinds of products that are made of pistachio on a trade fair market at the Port of Aegina town. The Aegina Fistiki Fest is a A festival with lots of food, music, dance, theatre, art etc.

I decided to hire a mountain bike here to explore the island. I rode in different directions for about an hour and enjoyed the views all along.

It was now time to head back. Announcements were made for the Greek Traditional Dance and Music show to commence. This was part of the package and will keep you entertained till you reach back to Athens. It was very delightful, the dance and the music.

It was a long day. I was very tired when I reached back to the hotel. Both yesterday and today had been very eventful and busy for me, so tomorrow, I’ll keep it slow.

Something to remind me of this wonderful trip........ my embarkation ticket.

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