Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 December 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 DECEMBER 2017 17 TRAVEL Last year I was here with another cousin. The only problem was we almost didn’t secure a return ticket as it was, ironically, busy; always have a return ticket as there are few boats off the island. AEGINA This is one of those islands you are drawn to or wish to avoid. Neighbouring and certainly overshadowing Agistri, you will find an island with a population of almost 14,000 and all year vibrancy. Being close to Athens and indeed once a sea merchant rival, you have a few businesses here that connect with Athens on a daily basis with boats coming and going. This provides a sense that it is almost a suburb of Athens. You can drive around this island; during the height of summer, you may even notice a traffic buildup. If you are religious, certainly worth a trip to Saint Nectarios and from there make your way to the quirky Temple of Zeus Hellanios, near Pachia Rachi village. This is a Byzantine church, built on the ruins of an ancient temple from the fourth century BCE. SALAMINA have mentioned, no vehicles just a caique to take you around. Once we actually managed a pub crawl using a caique. Ironically, it doesn’t count as an official pub crawl when my drink is essentially a cola light. Unless you are not a romantic, take your partner on the horse and carriage along the ocean and dream of the time when Laskarina Bouboulina the famous revolutionary lived on Spetses. Her museum is a must as well as the crystal clear beaches. The architecture is magnificent and will transplant you to the age of neoclassical buildings of previous centuries. Even though the prices are expensive compared to the neighbours, just the thrill of counting out of commission cannons, similar to Hydra, is worth it alone. As is the fact the island is well organised, a hallmark of the Saroniko, and you can take a water taxi around the island or to neighbouring Costa for a taverna on the beach or Porto Heli, both on the Peloponnese. A population of 4,000 awaits, and during summer is seven-daya-week destination. AGISTRI Upon my return to ‘civilisation,’ I inevitably plan my next outing. This time I make my way on a ferry to the tiny Agistri. A place named after a fishing hook, I first visited here in 2004 and like Poros I seem to visit frequently with last year being the most recent. Usually on a weekend it is full of Athenians seeking a quick escape for a few days and being only an hour from Athens, why would you not want to take advantage? With a population of less than 1,200 the island relies on tourism, yet it is not exactly flushed with tourists daily. This makes it even more attractive as you will receive decent service and a spot at the beach. Camping is also well known on the far side of the island, and I use the word far loosely as it’s only a few km only. Returning in 2008 with my cousin and his partner was something I will always cherish. It was before the economic crisis and unfortunately was the last holiday we all took together. As usual there was plenty of laughter and we could never figure out the proud eatery proclaiming the ‘best English breakfast in Greece.’ I think we preferred an Agistri breakfast of a gyros at around Midday when we would normally wake up. My cousin Kostas introduced me to the stunning beach on the other side of the island called Limenaria. A friend of mine in London, Tryfonas, is from the island and will only ever entertain holidays on Salamina. To many, this is essentially an extension of Athens, and with a quick ferry crossing, it does lend itself to being a suburb with 40,000 living here and containing Paloukia, the second biggest port of the Hellenic Republic. Salamina may not have the same wow factor of the rest of the islands, it does have that village meets city element, modern meets old. Most importantly you can feel the history. For without the Battle of Salamina, history may have taken a different direction if the Hellenic fleet had failed, and like most of these islands it is the birthplace of some significant names including Ajax and Euripides. You do not need my friend or myself to tell you that the delicious food on Salamina is up there with the best. Essentially, I enjoyed sitting on a beach taverna with the water lapping our table, feasting. History never sets here, as of course culture and paradise never sets on the truly spectacular Saroniko Gulf. *Billy Cotsis is the author of ‘From Pyrrhus to Cyprus: Forgotten and Remembered Hellenic Kingdoms, Territories, Entities and a Fiefdom’.
09 December 2017
23 December 2017