After 6 days of island hopping in Santorini and Crete, we return to Athens for three more nights.
We were told by friends and guidebooks (alas too late after we booked everything) that 3 days in Athens were plenty enough. How would we fill the next three?
Well, we ended up in a completely different and grittier part of town near crowded Monastiraki and the seedier Onomia neighborhood right next to the Central Marketplace where even taxi drivers didn’t want ro take us to go on our first round of the city!
We were in a gritty, graffiti ridden, urban zone and our hotel, though stylishly modern, was a giant step down from our posh Island stays and was also deep in the seedy zone.
What do you on a Saturday night in Athens? We did our laundry! And we used the laundromat’s free wifi to figure out how we’d survive the next couple days. We came up with a plan for Sunday that was nearly our best day ever!
Our Aegina Odyssey
Sunday morning, after breakfast, we took the train to the port of Piraeus to catch a ferry to the nearby island of Aegina (aka Pistachio Island). In 45 minutes on a hydrofoil, we are out at sunny Aegina, a charming little island known for their local pistachios which hawkers offered samples of at every shop and stand.
We’ve been having a run of warm, sunny weather lately so we ambled the little town, then sat at a cafe and savored a cone of fresh pistachio and coffee gelatos while using their free wifi to plot our next moves.
We decided to rent a car for a couple of hours and visit the temple of Aphaia on the far side of the island. At $25E, it was cheaper than a cab! Barely 10 minutes later, we were in a green jalopy cruising across the island! Easy peasy.
The Temple of Aphaea was amazing. Like a mini Parthenon high atop the island with 360 views. And entrance was free, this being the first Sunday in November. Who knew!
We then drove the rest of the island, took lots of pix, returned the car in town and strolled over to a homey fish tavern where an impromptu, authentic concert of regulars had the patrons singing along. We ordered fresh grilled sardines and a glass of wine, enjoyed the warm, late day lighting, the camaraderie, the music, the view and felt enormously lucky to be present in this moment.
To return, we took the slower 1:15 hour ferry back to Athens and were transfixed by the epic sunset that unfolded slowly over the entire ride.
We got back on the train but got off at our first Athens location (evagelisma station) and had italian food at Blu Codice, a restaurant I had eyed on our first round. It was delicious, quiet and the perfect way to end our 2nd day. It felt like a little vacation!
On Monday, our last day in Athens we plan to eat local , walk local neighborhoods and simply hang out like locals.