HYDRA – there’s a tale that they tell of a dolphin
Sunday – today is the last of my Greek Islands – Hydra.
A small island that I have always wanted to visit after seeing ‘Boy on a Dolphin’ with Sophia Loren and Alan Ladd. Yes a dreadful excuse I know but it is my excuse and I don’t care.
I loved the movie and I do realize that it has been over 60 years since Sophia and Alan cavorted in the ocean, I can always close my eyes and pretend I am back there. But I digress – let’s get moving.
This is an early, early start so I do not get to have breakfast at the hotel. My transfer to Piraeus Harbour is at 5.30am – something tells me it is going to be a long day. The price I pay for dreams.
The harbour area is still dark when I arrive so I get a coffee, find a seat and wait. I certainly hope that I am in the right spot. Is this an omen – my ferry is part of the Flying Dolphins.
My departure time is 8.00am so I still have a bit of a wait but the time is not wasted as the camera starts clicking away. The skies are becoming lighter – the day is commencing. It is not long before the harbour starts to wake up with ferries arriving at the docks and getting ready for the days activities. A large cruise boat arrives, most probably bringing 1000+ fakers with it.
Onboard the ferry – I have a window seat and we are on our way. Our first port of call is the island of Poros – an hour’s journey.
It is wonderful to sit back and look at the ocean. Admittedly the windows could have been cleaner – but that’s neither here nor there.
The web tells me that Poros is a unique island to visit. Built on a hillside, Poros Town is one of the most picturesque capitals of the Aegean sea islands. Yep, added to the bucket list for next time.
People get off – people get on and we are on our way again – another hour goes by and we arrive at Hydra.
It doesn’t look like the Hydra in the movie – am I at the right place? Everything points to it being Hydra so off the boat and time to wander.
The local donkey taxi rank is waiting for those who need to go up the hills to their hotel – but I plan on just wandering locally around the harbour. Even at this early part of the day it is hot.
There are no cars allowed on the island so these four footed taxis have to carry everything. Time to suss out some breakfast – there are loads of cafes lining the harbour but I decide on The Pirate Bar Cafe under shade.
Because it is early there are not many people around but I am sure that will change. The service is excellent, my toasted sandwich is delicious and the coffee is strong. I sit here for a while and then decide to brave the sun and explore.
Time to discover the whereabouts of the ‘Sophia Loren Windmill’ and the statue of the ‘Boy on a Dolphin’. On the other side of the harbour is the fort with its cannons.
During the 18th century, Hydra was in need of these cannons to protect the Island from the attacks of the Turkish fleet. The Greek ships were equipped with eight to twenty guns but the Turkish frigate had up to eighty guns and a Turkish corvette ship up to thirty.
I am heading up the hill to the windmill – although I am sure that it is not the original that was in the movie. The renovated old mill has been named for Sophia Loren as a result of the 1956 film ‘Boy on a Dolphin’
There are some seats further around the point so let’s go and sit in the shade for a while. I have all day so am in no hurry.
About an hour later I decide it’s time for lunch. The above photo on the right has a nice little restaurant but by the time I decide to eat it is packed out.
Continuing down the hill and into the main part of town I discover that a large ferry has arrived with around 1000+ passengers who are now covering the place like flies. There is a little alleyway that looks interesting – so let’s see what they have on offer. Souvenirs and a bakery that looks good.
Now to find a nice shady spot away from the hordes. I have come to the conclusion that Hydra needs more than one day (add to the bucket list). The beaches and places for snorkelling are on the other side and unless I want to climb the hills at a cracking pace I will not have time and I certainly cannot take a dip in the harbour. I suppose I could hire a donkey – but that seems like too much hard work. I will just enjoy the time out and head to the area near the fort.
There is the Historical Archives Museum of Hydra close by – time for a visit. It is nice and cool inside and they have nice clean toilets which are worth the EUR 5 admission fee alone. No photos are allowed – but they have some interesting artefacts especially the urn that contains the ACTUAL HEART of the island’s hero Admiral Miaoulis!
My return trip is not until 6.10pm and it is only 4pm. A walk up the stairs to the fort is out of the question as it is now as hot as hades. The tourist ferry is about to depart and I get the chuckles at the amount of people that are running and dragging their purchases behind them. I am sure that they were told what time they had to be back but of course they did not listen.
I am telling you I checked out the shops and there was not that much on offer apart from the local touristy stuff which is now departing with the ferry. I think some people just buy for the sake of it.
Across from the ferry stop is an interesting shop that needs exploring – The Ydra Gallery. They have original paintings etc. I think it would be great to take an original painting back home so in I go.
There are so many wonderful things but there is nothing that really makes my heart jump. So many little nooks and crannies inside, so many paintings hanging up or just laying in piles on top of benches – do I choose boats in the harbour, but wait hanging on the wall in a little corner look what I see – –
Isn’t this wonderful? Do you believe in serendipitous moments? This was truly one of those. It is a specifically handcrafted original made for the gallery. I am not interested in the price (I have my Visa card just in case) all I know is that I must have it.
You do recognize it don’t you? It is part of the fresco at Knossos. OK – I am happy once again. With carefully wrapped purchase in hand I head back to the ferry stop and just watch the boats in the harbour jockey for positions.
The place is packed so this town must come alive at night, there are so many boats that some have to park 3 deep and then the people have to clamber over the other boats to get to shore.
The tower bells are chiming, the water is relaxing and I am trying to envisage the harbour in the movie but, spoiler alert – it doesn’t look anything like it.
Time to take some end of day photos – the sun is setting – I wish I was staying –
How I envy all those who have arrived by boat and are now anchored for the night. Maybe some of them have hired the yachts for their holidays and are doing their own thing around the islands. Maybe some originate from Athens and own their own yachts – whatever the reason – I am jealous with a capital J.
The ferry arrives and before it docks it is time for everyone to scramble for position, even though the seats are allocated I am sure they think that maybe their seat is not going to be there!
It has been a great day on Hydra – even though the harbour and the foreshores did not resemble Alan and Sophia’s movie.
It is a smooth ride back to Athens – my transfer is waiting to take me back to the hotel and as tomorrow is my last day I have to get myself organised and pack. Lord, the time has gone by so fast – but all good things must come to an end.