Aegina Home & Living - Living in Aegina

 

 

 


LIVING IN AEGINA

What is it REALLY like to live in Aegina?

 

                                                           LIVING


 

LIVING                                                                            JUNE/JULY 16
  

THE COMMUTE

 

I had to be at work in London on Tuesday by 9am and as this is a journey that I have perfected over the years, it should have been straight forward.

This particular weekend though was different because there was to be an all out strike, to include transportation on Sunday, 1st May. Knowing this, I planned to leave on Saturday evening so that I could meet up with child 2 in Piraeus, get a bite to eat at our favourite taverna and then stay at the hotel, in Piraeus. A friend was then going to pick me up and drive me to the airport as the taxis were also to be on strike...but then the unions decided to strike from Friday until Monday which completely thwarted my plans and Mr. L and I had to re think a strategy.

Since strikes are a good opportunity for local taxi boats to operate, we decided to pre book one for around 2 pm on Saturday. I would travel with my good friend K, who also needed to get to the mainland. I arrived at the office, my pull -along hand luggage faithfully alongside me only to learn from an excited Mr. L that the taxi boat would not sail as the sailor had been beaten up, an assumed scab and allegedly, was imprisoned.

 Always the hero, Mr L decided to go off to the port, to see if he could find anyone else willing to take me and my friend across the water. We meanwhile, never wanting to waste an opportunity for a coffee, bought a couple of take away cappuccinos and nattered until Mr. L phoned. His voice, anxious and dramatic, urgently instructed us to get to the port within 10 minutes, as a fisherman was sailing his boat to the mainland and he had room for up to 10 passengers.

The boat, a basic vessel with a few seats was already filling up with passengers, all with valid reasons for needing to get to the mainland and instead of going to Piraeus; we were to sail to Epidaurus as this would be a safer place for our sailor to take us. Having no choice, I got on. My friend initially hesitated but decided to join me on what was to be an adventurous journey and we quickly introduced ourselves to our fellow passengers; a Russian priest, his son, a Greek doctor and his German wife and their young daughter plus a young couple who were really into each other, too busy snogging to chat.

Always obsessed with potential escape routes, I asked K to check that at least one window might open and prayed that we would not need life jackets as I couldn't see any and then I worried about how I might not be able to squeeze through the window if the need arose.

 Our captain was pleased to have company and would turn round to chat, whilst the boat cleaved its way through the smooth blue water, so all in all, our journey to Epidaurus was surprisingly short and smooth, very social, our destination a glorious town, clean and sparkling at the base of deep green hills. The group decided to stick together and see if we could get a taxi to Athens but the lowest quote we received was 250 Euro and that was just for the humans, no mention of suitcases at this stage, so then we tried booking a hire car but there wasn't an agent in the area. Finally, after much research, we learnt that our best bet was to take a bus from outside a luxury bar/ cafe, called Stork. On asking, we received differing accounts of bus time tables and also the amount of time needed to walk to Stork. The range of time needed to walk there was from 15 minutes to an hour, so I applied sun cream, handed it to the others and dug out Mr. L’s sunhat from my hand luggage. The road was steep, really steep, the sort of incline that forces the posture into a bad position, back hunched, knees bent, reminiscent of cross country or army assault training, my right knee throbbed only 10 minutes into the walk but I was determined that I was going to survive this, so I soldiered on Brit style until someone shouted to stop.

A local man who had overheard us asking about the location of Stork decided that he would help and suggested we all get into his white transit van so that he could drive us there.

The German family sat in the front with the driver and the rest of us sat on the floor of the van, our suitcases doubling as cushions; this was turning out to be great fun, an adventure to be written about! The van wound up a spiral of roads for what seemed at least 10 minutes until the road fanned into a wide, black tarmac road and like an oasis in a dessert, Stork emerged, a vast, basic cabin-like building, not beautiful but built into a rocky cliff, lots of glass and concrete approached by a sweeping driveway and with breathtakingly beautiful views of the sea and nature at her best. The interior was Greek opulence, more luxurious than the basic exterior would allow you to believe in, marble floors, vast spaces, uniformed staff and a menu fit for any event, from snacks to banquets.

The group formed, we pulled up extra chairs and pushed two tables together so that we could continue to be the united little family that we had become. K and I ordered club sandwiches and coffee, all of which came with the ubiquitous bottle of chilled water and for a while we stopped talking as we refreshed ourselves on top of the bluest sea hugged by the greenest, mothering mountains.

Naturally, we all exchanged first names and mini auto biographies. The Russian priest's son arranged the lemons I had given him into a still life on a table that bore the sea and mountains in the background and proceeded to take photographs. I learnt that his father had been helped in the past by Mr. L which put me several notches up in his estimation as I was now the wife of a hero. We discussed Aegina, Greece, Russia and Germany, each with his/ her own tale about how and why we were currently in Aegina. We discussed work, schools, economies, benefits, all peppered by micro poses for Instagram, face book or whatever social media tool people use for self advertising.

Time passed quickly, too quickly really but we had been informed that a KTEL bus, not subject to striking as it was a private enterprise would be passing outside the top of the driveway at 6 pm; tickets were to be purchased from a woman bearing a ticket dispenser who we were told would arrive at 17.45 Sure enough, she arrived and we bought our tickets.

Other people arrived at the bus stop and soon there was quite a crowd.

The bus rounded the corner, a welcome sight for those of us who had been patiently waiting half a day. It was packed and there was only room for 9 more passengers. The maths was not in our favour since 15 people wanted to travel. However, our ticket seller was a true believer in democracy and explained to the driver that the 'group' had been waiting the longest... And so the group were allowed to board the bus but we were the lucky ones!

Two hours later and having had a fantastic journey that crossed the Corinth canal, we arrived at the bus station where one of our dearest friends waited to take me to the hotel in Piraeus. I later met up with child 2 for a most delicious souvlaki  which was a  great end to an adventurous day.

 On Tuesday morning one of my colleagues happened to mention how difficult her journey to work had been that day. “Well, let me tell you about mine!" I said




Alison Lorentzos                                                             copyright 2016

 

 

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