“The isles of Greece! the isles of Greece
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.”
-Lord Byron, The Isles of Greece
Taking a bus, train, and a boat, we left the comfort of Athens to visit the island of Aegina, which was only about an hour off the coast. We planned to visit the Temple of Aphaia, but the buses were shut down over the weekend due to austerity measures, forcing us to take yet another mode of transportation: the taxi. The taxi drivers were quite friendly, pointing out monuments and pistachio trees. Fun fact: Aegina is one of the best producers of pistachios in the world.
Aphaia was a water nymph, originally from Crete, who fled from the rather inappropriate King Minos. She was captured by pirates and brought to Aegina. She’s become associated with Athena, who is also well represented in the temple. The temple held lots of colored pigment unlike many of the classical temples we expect.
Afterwards, we went to St. Nektarios Church, a local pilgrimage site, where many come to be healed by the saint, who we found out was sainted in the last century. He didn’t seem to like us, since the beautiful sunny weather turned into a ferocious windy and rainy storm that lasted from when we went inside to when we returned to town.
Since Greek weather is even crazier than Virginia’s, the sunny weather was back, so we visited a local cafe and got some coffee while we discussed our homework readings about previous travelers to Greece. After we went to lunch, which heavily featured seafood and two cats that continuously begged for our food and love.
When we finished eating, we were left to our own devices on the island. Some went shopping, some went on a photoshoot, some went to a cafe, and others simply relaxed by the Mediterranean Sea. We met back up to catch the ferry back to Athens (and the train and the bus). We got to watch the sun set over the Mediterranean but we’re happy to be back in our dorms with food after a long day.
-Melissa and Sarah