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Agistri/Saronic Gulf, Greece!

This won't be the most fascinating trip report. There are no major sites, few people reading this will have any interest in the type of trip I'm on, but this site is a bit hard up for trip reports, so I might as well.

This is my 4th time in Greece, and my 3rd time in Agistri, a small island in the Saronic Gulf close to Athens. We chose this island for a few days of beach and relaxation after Sightseeing in Athens 4 years ago and loved it so much we went back months later (which you can read about in my old posts).

I don't know why it took us so long to come back to a place that is basically paradise for me. We started exploring Italy, which we'd neglected for years. In 2019 we wanted to come but flights were "expensive" (less than we paid this time) - so we went to Istria instead. Then covid hit, so we managed a safer driving vacay to Switzerland and Italy last summer.

So once the vax hit, my thoughts turned to Agistri and I booked 5 nights at Hotel Kekrifalia in May, knowing that this popular gem fills up. As the summer went on, Covid cases also started rising in Greece, and then the fires, then dealing with pet health issues and then personal health issues, our 2 weeks of a smaller beach getaway combined with a 9 day road trip through the Peloponnese started to seem out of reach.

But the day to cancel our hotel reservation came and we decided to commit at least to the 5 days in Agistri and less than a week before we left, we bought less-than-ideal plane tickets for 8 nights (Covid has greatly reduced the bargain flights we used to find easily within Europe).

But we were going. I worked my tour guide gig all day on the day of our departure, blessing German public transit for having a bus to the airport from the same transit stop in the east of Stuttgart where I dropped off my group for their return trip to Robinson Barracks.

From our Sweden trip we knew to be at the airport 2 hours early for document checking, but Aegean air had given us boarding passes with a QR code and I had my traveler QR code from the Greek Government, so with our carry-on bags we went straight through security, which was fine - the problem was we should have gone to the gate personnel so they could confirm our vaccination passport. Whoops, didn't discover that til boarding, but after a quick slip out of the line, we were good to go on a long (for Europe) and packed flight.

Welcome Athens transfers greeted us, and while we've both taken transfers and the metro before, I'm glad we splurged on a transfer to the basic but comfortable Hotel Argos Anita in Piraeus, getting in about midnight. We walked quite a ways to grab some late night gyros cheese fries by the pleasure boat harbor, and a drink at the classy and fun Belle Amie. Parts of Piraeus can have a real charm about it at night, but that tends to fade in the heat of day. Even though we'd only get 5 hours of sleep, we resolved to take an earlier ferry to get to Agistri ASAP...

Posted by
1069 posts

Gyros cheese fries (I can only imagine) are sounding good right now….. stuck with cold pizza instead. Next time in Greece is going to involve some island sitting.

Posted by
2932 posts

We arrived in Agistri after a fairly full ferry - any fears that the island would be in hibernation due to Covid were quickly put to rest. Greek, German, and British tourists are all here, nearly as busy as it was in July 2017. Our room at the lovely Hotel Kekrifalia was ready even at 12:30, so we quickly unpacked, enjoyed our welcome drink and a light lunch on their incomparable terrace, and spent the rest of the afternoon on the private "beach" - a concrete platform below the terraces of the hotel, with steps into the most beautiful swimming area. The small hotel has less than a dozen rooms, so even at max capacity as it was on this Sunday, there were enough loungers for everyone. Before sunset we rinsed off in our room and went to one of the terraces for a view of the sunset towards the village of Skala, over the blue-domed church with the eastern Peloponnesean hills in one direction as the lights of the much larger Aegina island twinkled into view.

Once it was dark we walked the 5 minutes "to town" for supplies and diner at Toxotis, a popular traditional restaurant off the beachfront road, where the spinach and cheese stuffed mushrooms were as good as we remembered, the grilled chicken divine, the cherry tomato salad with caper leaves less so. The wine at dinner has gone to my head, and I was still adjusting to the heat, so we walked back to our hotel to enjoy some time near the water.

We basically did the same thing the next day, only with a different sunset viewing (Sunrise Beach Bar) and a different restaurant (Λίγο κρασί λίγο θάλασσα...) It was all perfect.

And today uh, well we walked 10 minutes to the beautiful natural beach of Skliri beach for a swim after breakfast before... returning to our hotel beach for lunch, lounge, swim, excellent dinner at Rosy's Little Village, another relaxed boutique hotel in the pine forest above Skala village, with some of the best steak I've had in ages. More wine, and now I'm here, watching the moonrise over Aegina in a state of near relaxation except I'm typing this on my phone, which is hard.

Tomorrow our friend from Stuttgart arrives, we may try to do more "things" but I was worried we'd be bored with 5 nights...now we're trying to extend it by 2 more because the thought of returning to Athens in this heat is unappealing compared to two more days of reading Stephen Fry's take on Greek myths while swimming, sunning, and eating like kings for very reasonable prices.

Posted by
2932 posts

I will do a more detailed rundown of hotels and restaurants in Agistri once I'm back at a regular computer, it's just a bit much right now on my phone. I almost hate to even talk about this island, as it's fully off the radar of Americans despite being 60-90 minutes ferry from Piraeus, but it really is the most amazing relaxing getaway combined with an Athens trip (or not - I truly adore Athens, but only when it's less than 85 degrees!)

Posted by
6506 posts

So glad you are there in your happy place ! Hope you will be able to extend by a couple of days like you want.

Posted by
2932 posts

Very exciting trip report: today we had breakfast, swam, met my friend from Stuttgart coming in from the ferry, had lunch at our hotel, laid on our beach, had wine and snacks (delicious cheese sticks and pistachios from the bakery in town), showered, had wine with sunset on the terrace, went to dinner at Alkyoni which had decent food and terrible service but we barely noticed because the location was amazing and it was a fun crowd, very lively. Our friend went back to her hotel and we sat on our beach, after days of reading Greek mythology and marveled that the same stars we see are the ones people spun stories about 3,000 years ago.

I also managed to secure 2 more nights at the hotel, in the Maisonette, so a big room, a bit more expensive but we don't have to leave our beach. It's worth the extra $30 per night for that luxury.

I can't believe I thought I'd be "too bored" with 5 nights. I've finished 3 books, gotten to know the shape of the sea floor and the currents, I dive into the water when the ferry is nearly past to ride the wake on my back. Every salad is exciting and just don't mind the service - you're on Greek time.

A do nothing vacation is definitely not in the Rick Steves mold, so I apologize for that. My friend - she's lived in Germany for 10 years but it's her 1st time in Greece said, "We can always do Athens in winter." That's kind of my approach right now. It's hot. It's still covid time. I'm gonna chill on the beach and thank my lucky stars that i can. It's been a rough couple of years.

Posted by
938 posts

Sarah, this is a lovely report. I'm glad you are getting to just chill in paradise - good downtime for your brain and body.