I'm currently sitting in a port terminal in Piraeus surrounded by about a hundred other American college students spread out among chairs and the floor in search of one of the most desired objects of the 21st Century: free wifi internet. The quest has been a success and Piraeus is the only port that offers free wifi at the actual port terminal. I bet they're starting to regret that now.
Today's island hoping adventure had an early start. I knew couple others that were on the trip (Heather and Mindy) so we hung around together most of the day. There was a quick bus ride across Piraeus to the ferry port where we boarded our ship for the day. The whole ferry thing was a little different than I was expecting. It was essentially a "day cruise" that provided entertainment and a meal as we sailed to three of the Saronic Islands (in the region closer to the mainland). The first part of the cruise was a 3 hour ride to Hydra. Thankfully MCAT study cards, an iPod and a deck of playing cards made the ride bearable. We were only on Hydra for about an hour and a half. It's really pretty and fun to walk around but there's not much to do. I'm not really a shopper and didn't feel the need to take a donkey ride so I guess that rather limited time on the island was probably a good thing. After re-boarding the ship we were served a lunch of ground beef, zucchini, and feta. The food wasn't the greatest (made in mass on a cheap day cruise) but did the job. The lemon cake dessert made up for any shortcomings.
We next arrived in Poros and had a little under an hour to look around. It's the smallest of the three islands and was again mostly tourism and shopping. There was about an hour ride to Aegina where we had about two hours. Aegina was a little more exciting to walk around and there was a more to do. It's supposedly famous for pistachios. I'm not a huge pistachio fan but was told they were unique in a good way. After a little hike around town we made an ice cream run and went back the ship. During the hour-long trip back to Piraeus we had a "traditional Greek dancing show." It was a little cheesy but the music was enjoyable. We eventually got back to the ship about two hours later than originally expected and I now find myself among my peers scrounging for free internet.
I don't want to be negative but I was not overly impressed by the whole island experience. The limited time was a bit frustrating. I know there are things to do and see on the islands (I would have loved some good hikes) but the only practical thing to do with our timeframe was walk around the tourist infested port area. Don't get me wrong; I had a good time today and the scenery is absolutely beautiful (little white houses and all). I guess the "relaxed" feel didn't really fit into my style as a "do everything humanly possible" traveler. I can now check Greek Island hopping off my list. A lot of people are going out to Mykonos and Santorini but I think I'll stick around the mainland for the next few days. Tomorrow I'm sighed up to take a cooking class (should be a new and interesting experience...) and will probably head back out to Athens afterward. That's all for now, it's time for a bit of rest.