Soakin Up the Aeginan Sun!

Aegina Island was the first Greek island I have traveled to. As I stepped off the ferry, the first thing I noticed was the clear, blue water. The port was filled with ships of all sizes, and children ran around with fishing nets, scrambling after the plethora of species. I couldn’t wait to explore what appeared to be a quaint yet bustling village.

First, we took a bus to our hotel. The bus was similar to busses in the U.S. cities I’ve spent time in, such as New York, and Boston; people were packed in, mostly standing, except for those lucky enough to grab a piece of the limited seating. It was the hottest bus I’ve ever been on. Once we were moving, I realized it was very different from my past experiences on busses. The driver seemed to drive much too fast for the rickety vehicle and took corners carelessly and rapidly. On several occasions I was certain we were to go plummeting over a cliff. This is when I realized that the driving on the islands is the only thing consistent with Athens. I paid attention to the scenery as we flew to our destination, taking my mind off of my worries.

The island’s landscape was extremely hilly as we ventured out of the village, and was filled with lemon trees, pistachio trees, and little other greenery. Most buildings were of similar construction; boxy, white, and topped with red roofs. The roads were narrow and winded up and down hills, through small residential areas as well as vast fields, which appeared to be filled with crops of various nuts and fruits. Before I knew it, we arrived at our resort.

After a bit of effort and wandering, we found Moondy Resort. The rooms were clean and comfortable and larger than expected: one double bed, one single, a shower room, a toilet room, an enormous closet and a nice balcony overlooking the pool and beach. I didn’t waste any more sweaty time—I immediately stripped down to my bathing suit and headed to the pool.

The pool was just as clear and blue as the sea. When I jumped in, I realized why: it was seawater, which I might add, is very salty in the Sardonic Gulf. I spent the beginning of the afternoon sitting at the edge of the resort, sketching another island in the distance. Then, I took advantage of the cheap drinks at the bar until dinner time, when we walked 10 minutes out of the resort to a tavern. Moondy Bay was filled with good food, drink, people, and created an overall relaxing and laid-back atmosphere.

When we arrived at the tavern, we sat right next to the sea, where I enjoyed the best shrimp meal I’ve tasted. I also discovered that “garlic souse” is mashed potatoes, mixed with olive oil and garlic. That was also very tasty!

At this tavern, I discovered true Greek dining. The service was slow. When we asked for wine, we received it 20 minutes later, while we watched all the waiters smoke cigarettes and chat. We experienced this problem throughout dinner, and made it back to the hotel hours later. I have realized since that this is part of authentic Greek dining. The Greeks seem to take their time with everything, which is not always a bad thing.

I spent the rest of the night reading in the bar, which was small and next to the sea and had no English-speaking waiters. I don’t think this is usual here, because everyone looked at Dom and I as if we were crazy. I suppose reading in a bar isn’t typical anywhere though. . .

Anyways, we called it an early night and spent the next day checking out the Temple of Aphaia, wondering about town, and swimming in the sea again. I don’t think words can express how refreshing and clean it feels to swim in the water on the islands. I could feel the salt cleansing my body and mind. The temple was breath-taking, but we had no water and they only sold sodas across the street. I was very surprised at how many columns remained intact since the construction of the temple. I also discovered that if you’re in Greece and don’t make a purchase, don’t bother trying to take a seat anywhere near the shop, because you will be rudely and promptly asked to leave. We experienced this when Dom and I bought a soda and Lauren tried to sit with us in the shady area outside the shop. The woman did not speak English, but she made it very clear that Lauren better get out of her sight!

When exploring the town, it was apparent that most of the shops on the main strip were extremely touristy. The best part was surely the fresh pistachios sold everywhere. We eventually walked to the close beach and spent the rest of the day enjoying the water.

Clearly, we had a full weekend of traveling and exploring Aegina. I was pleased by the efforts Greeks make to communicate, despite the language barrier. Here, many less people spoke Greek than they do in Athens, but it wasn’t as much as a problem as it was exciting. Although the majority of the busy areas in the village were touristy, it was not hard to wander off and find authentic dining and markets. My best recommendation is to stay away from main streets and seek out back roads; it has become apparent that happening areas aren’t where you want to be if you want to emerge yourself in their true culture. Speak to Greeks, try to learn Greek. Like I said, even those who don’t speak much English take great efforts to teach and explain new words to you. It can be a challenge, but it’s worth it, and the best way to learn. Also, food and trinkets are much cheaper and unique off the beaten track, so it’s important to stay away from the comfort zone of the tourists and try your best to blend in with the locals.

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