Thursday, 20 March 2014


“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back whence we came.” - John F. Kennedy

The island of Poros is situated off the East coast of the Peloponnesus, a stone’s throw away from the little coastal town of Galatas.  Less than an hour’s journey from Athens' port, Piraeus, on the Flying Dolphin hovercraft, it is a magical place to visit, exemplifying in many ways the picture of a Greek island most people have in their imagination.

It is a small place, in reality two islands that are joined together by a short isthmus. The smaller of the two, Sphaeria, and the larger Calavria. Ancient settlements on both islands are known from references in ancient authors, but little now remains in the form of ruins. A few slabs of marble from a temple of Poseidon on a wind-blown hill surrounded by pine trees, schinum bushes and yellow stubbly summer-dried grass is enough to evoke ancient mysteries while one gazes at the deepest azure of the sea stretching out to the horizon.

What a magical place those few ruins become in the searing shimmering heat of Greek midsummer!  The drone of the cicadas is made more intense by the heat and the sparkle of the sea while the far-off susurration of the waves breaking gently on the shore is enough to transport one to another age.  How easy it is to imagine the centuries past crumble into insignificance while one is watching the crystal waters of the Aegean lap the embroidered scalloped shores...

Bathing in those same waters while the heat is at its most intense is easily accomplished at any of a hundred or more suitable places all around the coast.  A little to the North of the Neorion bay about 100 meters from the main road joining the two islands is an enchanting little cove, “Love Bay”.  The water is an aqueous greenish blue, crystal clear, reflecting the overhanging pine boughs from the trees that grow almost to the water’s edge.

Look on the smooth rocks that dot the shore on either side of the rocky beach and you will see the black spiny sea urchins that threaten your naked feet.  Limpets hold tightly fast on those same rocks and through the magnifying lenses of the clear sea a hundred little fishes dart around in packed shoals.  The common black urchin of the Mediterranean is easily that day’s lunch by the same shore that invites you back from your swim.

The way that these sea urchins are prepared is simplicity itself, provided one takes care to wear sturdy gloves as the spines are sharp and very pointy. A sharp knife is used to cut open the urchins so that the middle cavity is exposed.  The orange roe is the only edible tasty part.  Wash the roe with sea-water and squeeze ample fresh lemon juice onto the roe.  Eat from the shells with freshly baked crusty bread.

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