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Tuesday, 01 March 2016

A Certain Time of Day: Cycling and Sailing in Greece - Page 3

Written by Dale Fehringer
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The wind comes up the next morning as we sail to the island of Kea.  It’s an exciting crossing, with white-capped waves, some serious up-and-downs, and salt water spraying the boat.  It reminds us that we are on a small boat and subject to the elements.  We spend much of our third day exploring the small island of Kea by bicycle and are amazed to learn that it has been populated since 3,300 BC when a settlement formed near the harbor town of Korissia.  Our cycling is gorgeous – up and over mountains to the picturesque town of Ioulis, the capital of Kea, and a haven for artists and the wealthy from Athens.  From there, we coast down the hills and enjoy scenic overviews of the coastline and harbors on the way back to our waiting ship. 


The next morning during breakfast our guides announce that a storm is coming up from Africa that includes strong winds, so we spend part of our fourth day diverting from our scheduled tour and heading to calmer waters in the Argo-Sardonic Gulf and the Peloponnes Islands.  Our first harbor is at Poros Island, which the ancient Greeks dedicated to Poseidon, the brother of Zeus and god of the sea.  We cycle to a sanctuary atop the island’s highest hill and listen as Catharina relates the myths of Poseidon.  For dinner, we dine on fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, and local Retsina wine, made by adding pine resin to white or rosé wine.  The food and wine here is healthy, delicious, and inexpensive, and we relish each meal.        


Our guides have a surprise for us on our fifth day; and we take a ferry to Hydra, a tiny, delightful island that appears to be frozen in time.  Life here goes on as it has for centuries; the locals fish, make handicrafts, and entertain tourists. Cars are not allowed and the only source of transportation is a group of temperamental donkeys.  Homes are small, painted white, and built into the hillsides, with blue window frames and gorgeous lace curtains. We clamor up the hills and through the narrow walkways, enjoying fabulous views, a striking coastline, and neat homes. A statue of a boy on a dolphin stands in a prominent position on the west end of the island, commemorating the movie of that name (Boy on a Dolphin) filmed here in 1950, starring Sophia Loren, Alan Ladd, and Clifton Webb.   


We spend our sixth day and last bicycle ride on the island of Aegina. Catharina tells us the island was named for the daughter of Asopos, the river god, who eloped with Zeus to this island.  It has been inhabited since 3,500 B.C. and was at one time the economic and social center of Greece.  More recently, it was the first capital of independent Greece, from 1827 – 1829. The weather is mild, the scenery wonderful, and we had a promising goal -- the ruins of one of the best preserved temples in Greece, dedicated to Aphaia, a goddess of fertility and agriculture. The remains of the temple are striking, perched on top of the highest point on the island, with the sea visible in all directions.


This island is famous for growing pistachio nuts, and they are ripe and being harvested. We are surprised to learn they grow in a pod, which turns red when ripe. The growers spread a tarp on the ground below the trees, knock the pistachios from the tree onto the tarp, collect them, remove the pod, and soak and roast the nuts.  As we discovered, they are delicious freshly roasted!

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Last modified on Tuesday, 01 March 2016

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