With my classes ending and finals week coming to a close, my parents were able to visit Athens for a few days before our trip to Italy. For my father’s birthday we took a day trip to the island of Hydra, about an hour and a half ferry ride from the port of Piraeus. Hydra is unique due to the almost complete absence of cars, albeit the noisy garbage trucks. Rather, mules are used as the main form of transportation moving everything from tourists to washing machines up and down the town’s hills. We saw the queue of mules paired up and waiting patiently in the harbor to give somebody a lift (adorned with beaded necklaces and nametags, these mules seemed to be in service only to island visitors while locals owned their own family mule).
Compared to my trip to Aegina, Hydra was a bit further away. There seemed to be more of a central town due to the geography of the island that creates a natural harbor. As a result, the hills cradle the small town and keep it from spreading out further. Rocky cliffs lines the north side of the island compared to the flatter landscape of the area around Aegina’s port. We hiked along this rocky route to one of the smaller harbors that housed small fishing boats. We passed one rocky beach with a steep set of stairs leading down to its shores. Due to the weather (windy with in and out sunshine from the clouds), we opted to continue walking rather than lounge by the water. The walking path provided beautiful views of Hydra with the Peloponnese across the water in the distance. Compared to Hydra, the Peloponnese looked uninhabited with its jagged coastline that didn’t seem to have any sort of development besides the spinning modern windmills.
Hydra appeared to be the perfect Greek island for those wanting to do a few short hikes on their trip. There was a map at the harbor illustrating the different hiking paths ranking their level of difficulty amongst other information. Hikes to the other side of the island terminate at smaller harbors that can provide water taxis back to the main port making them doable for those just wanting to do a day trip.
Lunch was enjoyed back in the center of town rather than overlooking the water to avoid the winds. We then walked back to the harbor in order to duck into the island’s history museum. The museum housed a number of objects dating from the Hydriots involvement in the Greek War of Independence to the Second World War. We ended the afternoon with a cappuccino at one of the cafes along the harbor before taking one final stroll through the town’s small side streets. The town continued to remain somewhat at sleep, not quite in full tourist season yet. After a busy few days in the motorcycle filled city of Athens this sleepy island town provided a relaxing break from city life that refreshed us before the next part of our journey, Rome.