I spoke to my sister yesterday and she asked me what’s it like in Greece, so I thought it was about time I shared a post for those of you who are interested - and as much for me to remember what it was like when we move on.
Where to begin?
I suppose I should begin by saying we (that’s my partner, the great Gordon, and I) are staying on an island called Aegina, midway up a hill in a little town named Agia Marina.
Aegina is in the Saronic gulf, only an hour or so by ferry from Athens and yet it seems a world away. I was struck when we first arrived by how quiet it is. It is the off-season now – posters taped to electricity poles still advertise full moon and cocktail parties in August – and many of the hotels are closed, their windows shuttered. There’s hardly any traffic noise (and coming from Newcastle, living near a main road I had got used to the near constant background sound of traffic and sirens). The roosters are noisiest, and they don’t just crow at dawn.
And dawn! The sunrises over the sea are divine. I’ve been getting up each morning eager to see them, though, in saying that sunrise now occurs about 7.30am and is creeping up later each day, so it’s not exactly early…
Our days consist of writing, exploring, swimming, siestas (I am in favour of the siesta), trying new foods – and the various types of Greek coffee – playing cards and catching up on reading all the books I’ve been putting off until I finished writing mine.
We have seen the ruins of the Temple of Aphaia, a great Doric temple dedicated to the mother-goddess Aphaia – apparently this is the only site Aphaia was worshipped at. The ruins date from c.500 BC and from the site you can see back across to Athens. After wandering around the site we decided walking back along the road would be too easy, so we cut down the mountain, through a forest of pine trees where cyclamens were growing wild (and another flower with the fantastic name of “Sea squill”, though more properly Urginea maritima), and managed to make it back with only a few scrapes from some prickly shrub I don’t know the name of, but boy was it thriving…
Other things of note – and quite different to home: the stray cats – so many cats!; the tap water is salty – you have to drink bottled water; people are so laid back – Greek time is good time, nobody is in a rush to get things done!; you cannot flush toilet paper; the sea is flat except when the wind blows it – but the waves I’ve seen are nothing like in Australia; the roads are narrow and most are imprinted with paw marks where cats have walked through the setting concrete; there are black water tanks on every roof; there are mosquitoes (grrr, we didn’t realise until they buzzed around our heads while we were sleeping – and bit us); the ground is rocky and lantana is a popular garden plant; and, finally, there are quite a few half-finished abandoned buildings dotted around the island. We saw an owl in one.
I was hoping to go out today to take some more photos – but the day was overcast and hazy, so we spent the afternoon forming a vague travel plan for after we leave the island.
I’m still getting in the headspace for drawing…and trying to find my style. I’ll post drawings when I’m ready to share, but in the meantime I’ve posted a few of my favourite photos I’ve taken in a separate post.