Falling in love with Hydra

Of all the enchanting Greek islands, one has altogether captivated me — head-over-heels!

Hydra (pronounced as ee-dra) is a quaint municipality in Greece’s Saronic Islands by the Aegean Sea. It can be reached in an hour by high-speed hydrofoil, or via a leisurely

two-to-four-hour cruise from the capital Athens.

The author at the bay.

Lorded by Mount Eros, the highest peak in the horizon, this 64-square kilometer isle’s pulse of all activities is the port, whose crescent shape is akin to outstretched arms to embrace all returning seafarers and to welcome visitors.

We immediately noticed a string of yachts, motorboats and rowboats. But what caught our eye most was the recently-docked flotilla of fishing boats with ample catch, as the townsfolk whispered negotiations, sans shouts or jeers, in this quiet, rustic village.

Souvenirs from rustic shops.

Another lovable sight was the absence of cars, or any motor vehicles, for that matter! Donkeys were their main mode of transport — the kings of the alleys with two huge baskets on each side, usually loaded with freshly-harvested vegetables and fruits.

On cobblestoned streets in this pastoral town, we delighted at pots and plant boxes in full bloom, with ever-present trellises lush with creepers and bougainvillea bursting with colors as far as we could see.

Intriguing outdoor earthenware with the words of ‘Mi Ultimo Adios.’

At a charming taverna by a strip of sidewalk cafes, we gravitated to the fragrant aroma of coffee and the familiar wisps of baklava. We soon joined laid-back locals and visitors, people-watching as children hopped their way to school, moms did errands and dads detoured as they headed to work.

Naturally, it would not be Hydra without the fabulous houses and ornate mansions in the ever-so-slightly-sloped vicinity, all painted stark white, with touches of dark blue tint.

Historical Archives Museum of Hydra.

Hydra became the favorite hideaway of the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Pablo Picasso stayed on to paint the picturesque landscape. Musicians Leonard Cohen and Mick Jagger have relished many a holiday here.

Novelist George Johnston, known for My Brother Jack, as well as many poets and writers, have called it home.

Donkeys are the preferred mode of transportation.

As we sauntered around, we headed to the Historical Archives Museum of Hydra, which houses thousands of artifacts, relics and manuscripts — all testimonies to its sacred past.

First-time travelers should visit the Church of Dormition, called the Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. With 18th-century frescoed ceiling, colorful muraled walls and spotless marble floors, it houses icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Maliki, the martyr Saint Constantine of Hydra, and Saint Spyridonos, patron of potters. As a Greek Orthodox chapel, it has stalls for candles so devotees can offer silent prayers and fervent intentions.

The quaint isle of Hydra.

Continuing our casual mosey, we bumped into a huge earthenware pot. It featured a quote from Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal’s magnum opus, Mi Ultimo Adios. Intrigued, we asked around, and yet no one could enlighten us. Though proud, we were also left astounded and dumbstruck.

As we sailed back to Athens, there was no doubt that Hydra is an island we fell in love with.

Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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