The Saronic Islands: Hydra
After exploring Athens yesterday, S. and I quickly decided that the islands were going to be our plan of attack. We had originally thought we’d spend two of our five days in Greece exploring the capital but after our indifference with the city we decided our time would better be spent elsewhere.
With extra time on our hands, we knew that the Cyclades were a must; we either wanted to head to Mykonos, Paros or Santorini to get a taste of the Greek islands. We also wanted another day trip to occupy the extra day, and while we had tossed around the idea of hitting up Sounion, Olympus or Delphi, we thought another island might be a better use of a day (more of our style). I had heard good things about the Saronic Islands from a couple of blog readers and Hydra, specifically, was touted as being a gloriously authentic destination. After a quick mental breakdown of pros and cons, we decided that Hydra would be the day trip of choice.
We got up bright and early at 5:30A to get to the Piraeus port where ferries depart. We didn’t know the exact time of departure for Hydra, but we still needed to get our tickets for an early morning ferry. We snagged tickets for a 9A boat (about 25 euros each way) and landed on Hydra about an hour and a half later.
I knew immediately that Hydra was a good choice. The houses, restaurants and cafes that dotted the island were idyllic; exactly what I had imagined when I thought of Greece. The island seemed rather undiscovered by tourists. While most people tout Ios, Mykonos, Santorini and the rest of the Cyclades as being the go-to spots, the Saronic Islands seem rather untouched, on the whole; definitely a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Athens.
Added bonus (and charm): there are no vehicles allowed on Hydra. The island can be explored on foot or on donkey, the only real forms of ‘transportation’ permitted. Donkeys were available for rent (Enterprise Rent-a-Donkey?) after disembarking and though we didn’t partake, it seemed like an interesting thought (though I feel bad for the poor donkeys). We grabbed lunch at a cute waterfront cafe before grabbing another ferry (3 euro each) to a secluded beach on the opposite side of the island.
The sun was shining and the water was incredibly temperate; it was the picture of Grecian perfection. S. and I rented beach chairs and an umbrella and vegged out on the beach for a few hours to catch some rays and work on our Mediterranean tans. After a few hours of relaxation, we departed the island and headed back to the ridiculousness of Athens.
We’re enjoying a bit of down time in our hotel right now, getting ready to grab dinner momentarily and planning our fun trip for tomorrow. We snagged tickets to Mykonos (about 40 euros each way) for tomorrow and have decided to spend a couple of days exploring the Cyclades. Though we have our hotel in Athens booked for tomorrow night, we’re going to just keep our luggage in the room while we stay in a hotel in Mykonos or Paros. Yay for the Greek islands — they definitely help make up for Athens’ shortcomings!
Love from Greece,