This time we decide to fly to an area less known to major international tourism than all of Greece, this fact alone should make them take them into consideration with interest. We will land in Athens and from there, in comfortable and short ferries, we will reach some of the most beautiful islands of the Saronic Gulf.
Yes, in the strip of sea between the northeastern coasts of the Peloponnese and the west coast of Attica, there are the wonderful Saronic islands (Νησιά του Αργοσαρωνικού in Greek), also known as the Argosaronic islands: Salamina, Aegina, Agistri, Poros , Hydra, Spetses and Dokos.
Traveling in covid time is quite nerve-wracking, between formats (domestic and foreign), tampons and various certificates with the fear of being blocked due to an incorrect document or inaccuracy; now you must always be up to date and informed if you want to leave peacefully and it is absolutely recommended to take out a good insurance before the trip because the risk is really too high. For this trip we have chosen: assicurazioni low cost (you will have a 10% discount code if you enter: B2T). Don't venture out without insurance!
We land in the middle of the night in a sleepy Athens, retrieve the backpacks and take the comfortable bus (x96 that connects the airport to Piraeus, where we will spend our first night before leaving for the islands), at a cost of 6 euros per person , we reach our wonderful hotel: The Alex Monte Kastella, where a splendid suite welcomes us, albeit for a few hours, but we will get to know him better when we return from the islands!
Today we leave, early in the morning, by ferry, direct to the discovery of the islands of the Saronic Gulf, the reason for our Hellenic trip!
Not too far from Athens, these islets allow you to immerse yourself in island life without facing long and tiring journeys.
Our first stop is Spetses, a land pervaded by the scent of pines and its ancient maritime history.
The atmosphere is decidedly intoxicating ... what a strange feeling, from the first moment we set foot here I immediately felt a sense of general well-being, light-heartedness, relaxation ... this is truly a magical island!
We will be guests, for the next four days of the magnificent Kastro Hotel, a quiet, elegant and very quiet private complex just a few steps from the port and the small town center, family-run and masterfully managed by the sweet Christianna with whom we immediately bond.
Kastro Hotel, 70 years ago was the island's kindergarten. Having gone into abandonment, it was purchased, restored with lots of love and passion according to the style and colors of the island and transformed into a welcoming traditional hotel, a small, very serene oasis where you can truly recharge your being.
Every detail is taken care of with precision, everything in the right place, the staff, very attentive to preventive anti-covid measures, will pamper you at all times and you will feel at home throughout your stay, which will make your departure even more difficult!
The swimming pool or the panoramic terrace, from which you can admire the sea, soon become our favorite spots… even more so in the evening, after sunset, when soft lights illuminate this little gem in Spetses!
The lucullian breakfast deserves a separate mention. A huge choice of artisanal products of excellent quality and variety, from homemade jams and desserts, to different types of honey, from Greek omelettes to fresh fruit, biscuits, bruschetta, Greek yogurt with dried fruit and liters of excellent juice freshly squeezed orange juice, all in a relaxing and picturesque background. One of the best breakfasts ever!
The small town of Spetses is located on the east coast of the island and develops on a winding promenade including several piers and beaches.
The port of Dapia, the new pier, is the most used now and close to Plateia Limenarhiou and Plateia Orologiou (Clock Square) where there are numerous very chic tourist shops and cafes frequented by foreigners.
It is strange to think that this island remained uninhabited for almost six centuries, from the tenth to the fifteenth, when some communities of Albanians fleeing the bloody fights between Turks and Venetians landed there.
Already in the past it was one of the capitals of commerce and trade and the proof is in the splendid houses that still survive today in the port of Dapia, which is striking for the elegance of the buildings, the squares with mosaics, trendy cafes and boutiques.
When the Greek Revolution of 1821 broke out, local transport ships were transformed into military ships and helped liberate the country.
It should be noted that traffic is limited but not prohibited and that people travel around the island with horses, mules, donkeys, and boats. There are only 7 taxis but agree on the price before using them to avoid unpleasant surprises as happened to us who, for a 15-minute journey, had to pay 40 euros!
It is picturesque to admire the sea from the top of the old steps!
Fortunately, we had a good stroller that allowed us to reach the top of the amphitheater easily, allowing our little Jago to enjoy the entire route in comfort thanks to the large seat and integrated shock absorbers.
We spend four wonderful and intense days on this island falling more and more in love with its atmosphere, the mood of its people, the tranquility and peace that you can breathe everywhere.
We had planned to spend a few days also in the beautiful nearby islands of Hydra and Poros but, we were so deeply captivated by the wonderful atmosphere of Spetses that we decided to postpone this exploration to a next trip: because for sure we will return and we will have one more excuse to to do it!
Póros is a popular holiday destination, but its forest-covered interior will give you a remote island feel. It consists of two islands joined by an isthmus: the tiny Sfería, almost entirely occupied by the city of Póros, and the larger Kalavría, where most of the hotels and beaches are located.
Hydra is the queen of the Saronic Gulf, small, chic and glamorous. Often compared to Capri and Portofino, Hydra is an expensive island but remains accessible and well connected. Above all, it is a haven of tranquility where you can move around on foot, by bike or on a donkey, because cars cannot circulate.
Tomorrow morning we will leave this magical island and, after a short pit stop in Poros, we will sail to Aegina where we will spend a whole week traveling!
On board a ship by Saronic Ferries, we reach Aegina island.
It was very comfortable to move between the various islands of the Saronic Gulf aboard such comfortable and clean ships, punctual, equipped with large spaces with numerous sofas, bar corners and where there is a lot of attention from the staff in anti-covid prevention. . We appreciated the excellent organization at all stages of the trip. Well done.
In addition to a lively port, Aegina has the simple charm of a typical Greek island but with the advantage of having several important museums and archaeological sites.
During the week ends the Athenians mingle with the relaxed locals.
One of Aegina's prides is its pistachio; he is said to have "the color of the sunset, the scent of resin and the taste of the divine".
In fact, thanks to its particular breezy and moderate climate, the pistachios grow luxuriantly and take on an intense green color, a unique flavor and aroma. The sandy soil of the island creates favorable conditions for a healthy pistachio that is rich in health properties.
The lively port of Aegina, where we will spend our first night, is lined with a promenade teeming with people, motorcycles, cafes and restaurants.
Just move into the internal lanes to rediscover the atmosphere of the old Greek villages, a small fish market that supplies the surrounding restaurants, stray cats resting waiting for some bones, some elderly people chatting while drinking a cold coffee ...
We enjoy yet another Greek dinner at a cute little restaurant in the center away from the crowded promenade! How good is the Mediterranean cuisine!
Before returning home we decide to admire a suggestive sunset at the pier, just when a couple of retired Bolognese invites us aboard their catamaran for a glass of wine!
We book a small apartment near the center but we are not very satisfied, tomorrow we will change area. Even though we stayed only one week and despite being quite small as an island, we decided to stay in 4 different areas to get a broader idea of the area, living it as we like it and not just looking at it briefly, so every two days we will change the area. .
Today we take a day trip to Agistri, about 15-20 minutes by ferry from Aegina.
the port and seaside town of Skala, where we land, is full of small hotels, apartments, taverns and cafes.
We decide to reach a small beach not far from the port but with a crystalline sea.
We rent beach umbrella and deck chairs at an Italian restaurant and spend a wonderful day at the beach between baths and laughter in a fairytale background.
It is an authentic island, far from mass tourism, rich in vegetation and bathed by a splendid sea. Agistri is ideal for those looking for the small Greek island lost in the blue of the Aegean, but do not have many days available and want to navigate between ferry changes and hours of navigation. A destination "for Greeks and for Greeks" and Mediterranean like few others, perfect for families or couples looking for relaxation, or singles who will love to socialize among the bars of Skala.
Back in Aegina in the afternoon, we slightly change the area moving south, in the area of Marathonas, we will spend two days at the:"Ostria Apartments", delightful apartments managed by the kind and friendly Kostas.
Ostria as the “south wind. Warm, mild, sweet, cheerful, cloudless, relaxing, the southern wind of hospitality that welcomes you every year from April to mid-November in the wonderful Ostria apartments on the shore of the Marathonas of Aegina, just 4Km from the port and a stone's throw from the most important attractions of the island ".
Here we have an entire apartment with two bedrooms, a bathroom and two balconies right in front of a postcard sea. But it does not end there, this structure has a restaurant that is the end of the world, a few tables, soft light, simplicity, the highest quality of its dishes consumed a stone's throw from the shoreline ... two steps not just in a manner of speaking ... but: one, two, you're in the water!
With a taxi taken along the main road, in a few minutes, we reach the village of Perdika, a fishing village from where the gulets leave for Moni Island (5 euros per person return) for 10 minutes of navigation.
The island has become a reserve of colorful peacocks that wander undisturbed among the umbrellas under the amused gaze of the bathers.
Beyond the beach with its turquoise waters extends a beautiful forest that climbs the slope of a steep mountain and covers almost the entire northern area of Moni. The rest of the island is bare and desolate with rocks that, at the highest point, taper into a pointed cone. Those who love hiking will appreciate the climb. You don't have to be very experienced to go up, but bring good shoes and a large bottle of water. At the top you will find 2 stone sheds that were used by the Germans during the Second World War, (to ensure that no enemies entered the Athens side), today it serves as a hiding place for the animals that live on the island.
We spend the whole day soaking in a sea so clear that it gives you the impression of taking a dip in the pool!
Today we completely turn the page and, while moving south for only 4 km, we will be guests of a very chic villa: Angelina Boutique Escape.
This is an elegant structure born in 1992, a small oasis just a few steps from the small village of Perdika.
Its external look is very picturesque, the attention to detail in every single room tries to preserve the classic Hellenic touch with modern shades and the large swimming pool turns out to be the icing on an already rich and inviting cake!
Numerous taverns overlook the elevated promenade that flanks the port and, after sunset, the sleepy atmosphere gives way to an effervescent nightlife with bars open until late.
We enjoyed a “drunken saganaki” of mussels, shrimps and cuttlefish in front of a postcard view of Moni Island, once again.
Time to turn the page and it costs!
We cross the entire island from south to north, from the west coast to the east and, along the way by taxi, make a brief stop at the Moni Agiou Nektariou, an imposing Orthodox church that dominates the central part of the island.
Here we see an Aegina completely different from the image we have created so far ... small and almost uninhabited villages immersed in a very desolate background.
Suddenly the road becomes a difficult dirt road as we approach the sea ... we turn right and here is the wonderful "The Beachhouse Apartments” appears in its simplicity and beauty before our eyes!
We will spend three days here in a delightful apartment with an unrivaled sea view. It is the ideal place for complete relaxation and to find the balance of one's self.
The exclusive seaside location of The Beachhouse Apartments makes it an ideal place for everyone: for couples, lone travelers or families with small children. The sea in front is like a shallow pool with crystal clear water and very safe for small children as it is protected by a natural stone formation. Parents really like the position as they can relax while their children play in this clear water whose colors range from the white of the shore to the intense blue of the horizon.
All the apartments are minimal but cared for in the few simple details and embellished by the colorful paintings of the very strong Lizzy who manages the structure!
50 meters away is a typical Greek tavern, without too many frills, family-run, where you can eat excellent fresh fish and which becomes the ideal place after a whole day spent on the small beach of our Vagia Beach nest!
The closest supermarket is inside a petrol station, about 2 km away, fairly well stocked ... all around various summer houses, currently uninhabited, and unspoiled nature.
Here is a place where you can really disconnect, you can recharge and seek peace within you and balance your balance ... maybe ask Lizzy for advice too, who will be happy to guide you towards the right path.
The days fly by in the most true and natural relaxation and soon we find ourselves at the ferry port of Aegina waiting for our ferry to Piraeus.
We travel again with Saronic Ferries, in just over an hour we reach the port of Athens in absolute comfort.
We return to the chaotic Piraeus after two weeks spent in the quiet and peace of dream islands!
Here we soon find our balance in the comfort of the wonderful hotel that will host us in the coming days: The Alex Monte Kastella.
The Alex is a modern, minimal boutique hotel, the perfect solution both as a stopover if, as happened to us on the way out, you book an early morning trip to the islands as it is very close to the port of Piraeus, not even 3 km, or for those who want a refuge in a characteristic spot to be able to enjoy a perfect city break. Piraeus is a real gem, with picturesque views, many places to discover and many activities to do in the surroundings, it is also very well connected with the center of Athens thanks to public transport as well as the ubiquitous taxis.
Just think that each of the rooms in this extraordinary boutique hotel has local works of art specially commissioned for the hotel.
In the evening we enjoy a romantic dinner at the Nest Kastella restaurant on the rooftop of our hotel. Rich, delicate and very elegant menu in the setting of a very picturesque view point of Piraeus at sunset!
The chef delights us with a series of delicacies ranging from Greek salads revisited in a slightly more gourmet way to finish with a masterful panna cotta with a white chocolate mousse and a millefeuille with pistachio cream and kaymaki ice cream ...
We can now abandon ourselves in the arms of Morpheus! Tomorrow a wonderful day awaits us in the center of our beloved Athens!
Today we live one of the busiest days of the trip.
By metro we reach the picturesque area of Monastiraki and we are immediately ready to dive into its most characteristic alleys but the first task of the day is the buffer to do for the return to Italy (another novelty of this journey in covid time).
No problem, a few steps from Syntagma Square, we find a laboratory that solves the problem in a few minutes. I notice that by now this tampon has become a real business but, unfortunately, it is a fundamental requirement to be able to travel!
We are now free to enjoy our beloved Athens without worries.
Monastiraki is a sort of compendium of the history of Athens, just think that a church from the 10th century and the Ottoman mosque of Tzistarakis overlooks the square while, in the background, the Acropolis stands out.
The scent of souvlaki that spreads from Thanasis, the seasonal fruit peddlers and the crowded pedestrian streets lined with very nice shops.
The center of Athens is traditionally a vast commercial area full of various shops where the main shopping street remains the pedestrian Ermou which connects Syntagma to Monastiraki.
Go around the narrow streets of the flea market where the palaiopoleia (antiques sellers) reign as well as the many souvenir shops. The best day to visit is Sunday when there are also stalls in Astingos and the neighboring blocks.
We take the opportunity to board the "Athens Happy Train” which in 40 minutes takes you on a nice tour of the historic city center with the possibility of getting off and on at any of its many stops.
Ideal if you have children and if you want to spend an hour relaxing while admiring the many main monuments from a more original point of view.
In the late afternoon, when the sun gives us a little more respite, we reach the base of the Acropolis.
The Acropolis crowns Athens and its most precious gem is the Parthenon.
This ancient monument watches over the city from above and its museum holds its treasures.
The marble of the buildings sparkles white in the sun as it takes on a golden hue at sunset and then shines on the city at night.
The Parthenon is the monument that represents the splendor of ancient Greece. Dedicated to Athena Parthenos, goddess who embodied the power of the city, the temple was finished in 48 BC.
The sun sets making this place even more magical where ancient history is breathed in every corner.
Thanks once again wonderful Greece. See you next trip!