It was short but it was nice. And especially, it was very relaxing. KTG followed the decades-old tradition of mid August and left the boiling city of Athens – like thousands of other Greeks. For the islands.
For Greeks, August 15th, or Dekapentaugoustos is one of the big religious holidays next to Christmas and Easter. It’s the Feast of Dormition of Panagia Mother Mary.
The bank holiday on August 15th gives the opportunity to heat-exhausted Athenians to escape the city for a couple of days and seek the sea breeze at one of the many islands.
According to port authorities, more than 100,000 people left the Greek capital through the port of Piraeus between August 11-13 this year, despite the economic crisis. It was the prolonged August heat wave that pushed masses of Athenians to boats and ferries. Some picked cheap summer destinations, others expensive ones, some went to the summer houses of relatives and friends.
Some sailed for 10-to 12 hours and others just for 60 or 120 minutes. For a quick escape.
For many of us, summer holidays always mean: get aboard, sail to the islands. No matter how far or close. Main thing is: get aboard. The moment you hear the ship engine, you know it: vacation begins right now.
For a couple of days, for a week. It doesn’t matter how long. Because the vacation starts right there. At the port of Piraeus.
For me, the quick solution for a few relaxing days lies right there in the Saronic Gulf with its beautiful islands. One hour sail. The island of Aegina, the resort village Agia Marina.
Sea, sun, relax.
Whether on the crowded beach…
… or at the Rocks -Vrahakia in Greek.
When I left Athens on Sunday, my tiny notebook was in my luggage. And some notes about a report I wanted to do about the island of Aegina. Something like “Ten things to do in Aegina” and things like that.
Upon arrival I realized the graphics card of my notebook was broken. Peng! It was the first sign I should do real relaxing vacations and forget about reporting. My cousin offered me his own laptop, then the internet connection started to have problems. A second sign I should devote my just few days on the island to swimming and other soul and mind relaxing activities than spend hours over a laptop and a keyboard.
By Sunday afternoon I had given up. I let it go. Recreation was in, not reporting.
I suddenly got so lazy… I didn’t even manage to go under the next pine tree for midday nap during the concert of the famous cicadas of Aegina.
Ok, I admit, I thought to prepare a photo-report but Agia Marina has just few original and picturesque things to shoot.
The natural landscape is awesome, the human intervention is indifferent.
The small church of Agia Marina that stands at the end of the sand beach for more than half a century.
The beautiful pine trees forest
A pine trees forest that has stubbornly resisted to the wildfires burning every summer in Greece. Decades ago there were some wildfires in Agia Marina, they burned what they had to burn, summer houses grew where the centuries-old pine trees were standing and then… the wildfires were …exiled. The pine forest stands there, green and aromatic as it did in ancient times.
The beautiful sea and crystal clear waters and the generously offered opportunities for swimming. All colors of blue: from deep blue to azure…
The rest is a bunch of anarchically constructed summer houses, hotels and rooms to let facilities, tavernas, bars and souvenir shops one next to the other.
Insignificant to mention and sometimes even ugly.
But it’s the fresh pine trees air that makes the difference and the sea.
What else does a human needs for a couple of days to relax body and soul?
A collection of succulents going from garden owner to balcony owner to remind one of the nice summer days?
Then time to go home comes and the beautiful sand castle is swept away by the sea.
One day, we pack our things again to return home. It is time, when we, Greeks, wish each other Καλό Χειμώνα! – Have a nice winter! – although it’s just the 15th or the 16th of August.
Ok, for those in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, the August mantra is: Get on a car, drive all the way down to Halkidiki.
Athenians and Thessalonikians will never agree on this: which mantra is the best.
I hear, there are people choosing mountain to the sea for their summer holidays. How is this possible?
PS Greeks may be right with their Kalo Xeimona wish. Today it’s a bit cloudy and temperature at just 32° C. 🙁