Hydra & Athens
Lauren and I arrived in Athens at the tiresome hour of 3am. We had plenty of time to make our way to Piraeus to catch our hydrofoil to the islands so we decided to take the bus. The boat looked more like a giant missile than a ship. We got on board and tore off though the Mediterranean at high speeds. Dimitri, a LBS admit from Athens, had recommended a couple places for Lauren and I and we ended up settling on Hydra. Hydra is a small island with a bunch of old stone mansions that sit atop the hills surrounding the harbor. They also don’t allow cars on the island so the only means of transport are the donkeys that await to transport you luggage to your hotel upon arrival.
Waiting on the Hydrofoil
Hydra´s very own bellman
The view from the Posto Cafe on the harbor
The cafes along the coastline
View of Hydra from the top of town
Our first day there we spent the majority of the day at the pebble beaches and at the cafes that surrounded the harbor. I discovered a new dish that I would order 4 times over the next two days. Nothing fancy, just Greek yogurt (thicker and less sweet than ours) topped with fruit and honey. The beaches were a short walk away. They were very small considering the cliffs dropped directly down into the sea at most places, but since the island was so small they weren’t crowded. The water was crystal clear as well.
Walking to the pebble beaches on the southwest side of the island
Our little pebble beach
Crystal clear water
On the second day we hiked through the streets that led through town to the top of the hill. Once the houses stopped and the donkey grazing lands began we decided to head back down. On the way back down we found our way to the Larazos Kountoyriotis Museum, housed in one of the historic mansions. It had typical Greek furniture and costumes from the time of the War for Independence.
Hiking through the streets
A lot of the houses were white and blue, the colors of the Greek flag
The Greek furniture inside the mansion
View from the mansion
Without curiosity satisfied, we decided to catch the water ferry to Bisti Beach, located on the south side of the island. The beach was much larger and had chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, and a bar. We ended up renting a kayak and I got scolded as I tried to paddle us into some of the nearby caves. We turned the cape and admired some of the huge yachts and sailboats anchored in the bay.
Lauren and I at Bisti Bay, she stole my hat becaues she didn´t like her hair
Lauren paddling back towards our boat
Some of the small caves in the background
We had dinner that night at a little restaurant situated on the edge of the cliffs looking out towards where the sunset. The waiter brought us out a shot of ouzo and Lauren vetoed ordering a bottle of it. I didn’t really disagree.
There wasn´t a bad table in the house
Lauren manning the heavy artillery
Enjoying the view
The view from the table
About five minutes later
I took this picture with the shutter open, the streaking light is a water taxi passing
The next morning, after a short stint on the beach we headed back towards Athens so Lauren could catch her flight to Paris. I got her settled at the airport and headed back to Athens. I booked myself back into my usual dorm style hostel and wandered Plaka that evening in search of some good Greek food.
The hostel provided walking tours of the major sights, so I decided to take one. I was surprised to see the guide was a 20 year old looking New Zealander. He explained he had studied Greek history for six years and just happened to be staying at one of the hostels when they were looking for a guide. I was surprised to find he knew everything about everything Greek. He turned out to be one of the best guides I’ve ever had. We hit all the major sights around and including the Acropolis. Many people confuse the Acropolis with the Parthenon. Every town has an Acropolis, it’s the tallest point in town. Athens is the most famous because it houses the Parthenon among other historic buildings.
The ceremonial guards outside the Parliament House
The Temple of Zeus
The Roman Theatre at the Acropolis, it's still in use
The left side of the Parthenon
The female columns on the Caryatids
View of the Greek Theatre from the top of the Acropolis
The Temple of Zeus from the Acropolis (the downed column was knocked over in a storm in the 1600s)
Athens from above
The sister Parthenon at the foot of the Acropolis
I ended up meeting Brandon, a civil engineer from San Francisco, on the tour. The two of us chummed around for the majority of the tour. We planned to meet up that evening to get some gyros and beers. He met me over at my hostel while I was working on my computer in the courtyard having some red wine I’d bought. I offered him some but didn’t have another cup so I just filled mine up and he took pulls right out of the bottle. We went off in search of food and ended up heading to the bar back at his hostel which was full of other young travelers. The subways in Athens shut down pretty early so I ended the evening arguing with a cab driver over the fare to get back (they are notorious for screwing you, especially at night.)
Brandon and I at the Greek Theatre on the Acropolis
From here off to Colombia in a round about way.