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Aegina: island of the nymph Aphaia – and the pistachios

View from the sanctuary of Aphaia to the coast of Pireaus an Athens

Aegina is a beautiful island that is almost a suburb of Athens, which makes the port extremely turbulent and hectic. Many boats from Athens make short trips here. But more about the harbour later. In Aegina, hydrofoil boats from Athens, Methana, Poros and other islands dock, as do large car ferries.

The island is hilly and overgrown with pistachio trees. In the city there are kiosks and shops everywhere, selling huge quantities of pistachios and pistachio products, from ice cream to salted, unsalted, but also unroasted pistachios or pistachios pickled in honey or covered with sugar. For dessert we once got unroasted soft pistachios, marinated in honey with ginger - a delicacy.

On a hill, about 15 km from the main town, with a wonderful view as far as Piraeus and the entire Athens coast, lies the sanctuary of Aphaia, who was worshipped here - and only here on Aegina - the temple is older than the Acropolis in Athens. Probably already in Mycenaean times a fertility goddess referring to Egyptian deities was worshipped here, a sphinx stood on a column. In Greek-Classical times it was a daughter of Zeus (once again).
A large, relatively well preserved temple, surrounded by a mighty wall, evokes associations with Agrigento or Paestum, but is not quite as complete. And the frieze, which is hardly surprising after all the history, is in the Glyptothek in Munich.
The hill is located above a small fishing and bathing resort, Agia Marina, very idyllic, but it has also suffered from the financial crisis and now the Corona crisis, some taverns and also hotels are abandoned.

After three days we left Aegina - but first with heavy obstacles: The harbour, where you lie with bow anchor and line at the stern to the pier, has a roughly semicircular ground plan. That means: All boats drop their anchor approximately in the middle. This in turn means that the anchors of the boats with their chains lie criss-cross over and under each other. And suddenly, when we were pulling up our anchor, we had a chain on it and an anchor, but it was from another chain. This caused stress, the wind pressed us against other boats, a chain blocked our propeller - a diver untangled the chains and freed our propeller. After I told him that I didn't have enough cash, he was content with 150 instead of 200 €, an expensive "fun"!

Aegina Port
Although Port is already full, boats come in all the time
Pistachos everywhere
The fishmarket
Entering a Bus, you have to wear a mask
Agia Marina
The sanctuary of Aphaia
While Leasing we picked up a foreign anchor and at the same time another chain was under our keel (Foto: Krzysztof Czopek)

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