Aegina happened entirely by chance. I knew I wanted to leave the mainland and work my way through the Greek archipelago, but I left Tuesday’s destination up in the air, deciding to purchase whatever was handed to me through the ticket window at the Port of Piraeus.
The three of us hopped on a catamaran, pocketing our ticket stubs to Aegina (to be saved for the scrapbooks I know I’ll never make), and then proceeded to fight over the window seat. Of course, my insistence won out and I got to spend an hour with my cheek pressed against the window, staring out at an endless expanse of ocean and sky.
The island was quiet, sound muffled by the ocean and swallowed by the warm air. Save for the tourists who arrived with us, there were a few shopkeepers twiddling their thumbs behind fully stocked counters and more than one sleeping taxi driver. After buying double scoops of pistachio gelato on waffle cones, we set out to find a taxi that wasn’t taking a post-brunch nap and would take us into the deserted heart of the island.
And then we drove up to a literal fairy tale. All the clichés of chirping birds (they were actually causing a racket), butterflies, golden sunlight filtering through olive trees, I could go on. Agios Nektarios is a hundred-year-old monastery, quietly existing in its own solitary, dreamlike space. We meandered through the grounds, trying not to disturb the nuns going about their daily work, feeling every bit out of place.
We had lunch back on the oceanfront: fried feta in honey, salty sea breeze, octopus, candied orange peel for dessert. All we needed now was gelato round 2, which we accomplished 5 minutes before running back to our return boat. In between lunch and the ride back: hopping into abandoned plots to take photos, strolling through winding lanes that the locals called home, learning the origin of OK from an enthusiastic jeweler (we later heard this story 3 more times), dipping our toes in turquoise water, getting painted orange by the Mediterranean sunset. Such was the quaint beauty of Aegina.