The enchanting island of Hydra

Hydra was fantastic. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to go, but after a little bit of research as to what to do after Athens, I thought it would be fun to see a quiet town, especially it being an island with no cars, and see this quaint place. Arriving by a hydrofoil from Athens in just an hour and half, it was an easy trip and pulling into the marina, you are greeted by rose colored roof tops of tile, beautiful water, sail masts bobbing up and down like fishing lines, and of course, all the other buildings that create this beautiful picturesque town.

We had booked a hostel near the marina, and quickly made our way there to drop off our items. They didn’t have the room ready yet, so we just left our bags and headed out for a little walk. We walked around the marina up the hill to the first look out where there was a diving area complete with rocks creating perches to dive from into the clear blue waters below. The land near the water was rocky, but had ladders coming out of it and paved areas for leaving your towels and bags to lay out. It was really a well created place for fun in the sun. As we sat for a while to watch this, we ended up finding a place for lunch and enjoyed a lunch special next to the water looking out. I had a fresh fish with salad and lemon sorbet for dessert.

After this, we went back to the hostel to get our bathing suits on and ready to explore the island. Robert had researched a beach that was a little hike away, and it definitely was! We walked all along the edge of the island on a deserted road that left us wondering how far this beach was. After a good 40 minutes walk, we started curving around the island and saw the beautiful water below getting closer and closer.

The beach was not that nice, although the water was pretty, but the sand was an ugly brown, and the facilities weren’t all that great. However, the seats and lounges were great to relax while hanging out at the beach after our long walk. We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon here and then boarded a taxi boat back to the center of Hydra.

Once back, we were hungry so ready to go and find a restaurant I had looked up on Trip Advisor. Again, it was a little bit of a hike, and at this point, I started shaking I was so hungry. We thought we might be lost, because we were really weaving through the streets relying upon Google Maps to help us find the restaurant. All of a sudden, we happened upon Portafino, a beautiful little restaurant run by Theo, a Greek-Brit who comes back in the summers to Hydra to run the restaurant. According to Trip Advisor, we should definitely be trying his curry, so I opted for the lamb curry, and Robert, the chicken curry.

Enter one of the most magical dining experiences I’ve had. It was not luxurious by any means, not fine dining. But, the flavors, portions, overall atmosphere of this place—I surrendered wholly to the experience and enjoyed the most amazing dinner.

After dinner, we walked around as the sun set and took some pictures, and enjoyed our night walk back to the hostel. It was amazingly relaxing.

The next day, we had both changed our plans to stay an extra day because of how much we were loving it. And I’m so glad we did. We walked around more, and found some really great things to buy. I bought these two handmade bronze sculptures of Athena, goddess of wisdom, and Neptune, god of the sea and protector of travelers. I absolutely love them. I also found a necklace that I’d seen the first day, came back to check the next day and it was gone (or so I’d thought) only to find it once more at a different shop—still confused as to if it moved around. Anyhow, it was a piece that is a replica of an Art Deco piece that was featured in the Bernaki Museum in Athens, and with black and white sapphires.

The next day, we spent around the harbor and went to the swimming area where we jumped off the cliffs, and I got to impress some people with my diving J I did a little GoPro video as well! After a full day of swimming and playing, we took a nap and then went to find dinner, only to be lead back to our beloved place again. Again, with the same meal J

The next day, we took the boat back to Athens and headed for the airport. I was heading to Belgrade and Robert heading to Rome.


Arriving in Athens after a long boat ride from Mykonos, I was happy to be there. I had been told by several others how dirty and ugly Athens is, and how ungodly hot it was. I found none to be true, but maybe that’s because I have been to REALLY HOT places or have been to REALLY UGLY places too lol. I will give Athens the award for the most tagged city ever, for every piece of wall, train car, building façade, etc was covered in graffiti.

I arrived at night and did per the directions of the hostel and rode the metro into the city center. When I emerged, there was a street of people strolling along next to a park. The street was dimly lit, and pedestrian use only, and vendors were all along the side selling who knows what.

I made my way to the Circus Hostel, which was a beautiful old building taken over and made into a new hip hostel. I got set up in my room, and Robert had just arrived as well. We met up after checkin, and found our way to a kebap place to have a late night snack.

The next morning, we went on the free guided tour of Athens. When we arrived, the guy was introducing everyone one by one, which became annoying because the longer he waited in that spot, the more people found us, and the introductions continued to linger. Finally after 15 minutes later, we were off on our free explanation tour of the surrounds.

It was really educational and engaging, but still left a bit of history and storytelling out, which overall left me with an impression of having not learned an amazing amount. We did hit many of the sites around the bottom of the Acropolis, which gave us a good orientation of where to return to on our own.

After our tour, we stopped for a bite to eat and walk around more. We looked at the shops and simply wandered around the city aimlessly. That evening, we made the long haul hike up the mountain to get stunning views of the Acropolis at sunset from across the city. It was really great, and I enjoyed being able to see the Acropolis from this vantage point and enjoyed the walk up, even though it was quite a hike.

After a while and speaking with some guys who were about to join an oil rig for 5 months shipping around the world, (as you do), we went back down the hill and had dinner for super cheap, along with dessert (as always.)

That night we enjoyed the rooftop of our hostel and looked at the Acropolis from an amazing viewpoint and it was so sparkling white and pristine at night.

The next morning, we headed out to check out the acropolis and Parthenon. We walked with a couple from my room and when we got to the base, Robert and I thought we got dumped–they decided to ‘go and get a hat’. Well, they left and we went on without them only to not see them again until I returned that night to my room. Apparently it was too hot for them, but for Robert and I, I guess we are just accustomed to the heat of Texas.

Walking up to the Acropolis is really amazing. The fact that these roads were traversed by so many people before, so many amazing thinkers, and history shapers, it was incredible to think the same stone pathways were also walked upon these people. The columns were absolutely incredible, and pictures cannot do such a grandiose place justice. The overall size of these columns I couldn’t stop looking at, and trying to imagine, how in the world were they able to build this, why did they think to make it fatter in the middle, did they do tests before, how did they fail, did they fail? All these questions kept swirling around, and made for a thoughtful afternoon as we continued walking thoroughly through each of the places we’d seen on the tour the previous day.

Finally, we ended our tour of Athens, and started to head to a museum to check out, but before that, I found a cool auction house that had an amazing old ship compass from the Netherlands. I thought it was such a cool piece. The cost however, was not so cool, and they wanted $1000USD for it. So I quickly googled, researched, and found the same model, size and everything, that was sold at auction for $350, with a value estimated at the same worth. Fortunately, this helped bring me back to earth and realize it wasn’t the right time to buy such a thing, but I loved it, so I will try to find my own auction and get one instead :)

We then enjoyed a museum for a while and went back to the hostel to be ready for our trip to Hydra the next day.

A Weekend in Mykonos

The winds were horrible on the sea tonight as our ferry left Samos and headed for Mykonos. I definitely needed to take my ginger pill, and thankfully I had them with me. The ferry boat was really nice and built more like a cruise ship as it had a lot of levels and nice seating everywhere.

As the ferry moved on, I sat watching some TV I’d downloaded and was quickly joined by the Greek Canadian I’d met waiting for the ferry to arrive. He was a little obnoxious and loud, but nice and seemed to be interested in chatting. So he sat next to me and talked about various things from our trip in Greece to business to his life in Canada and mine in the US.

After being delayed for quite a bit due to the rough waters, we arrived in Mykonos around 9pm. I hadn’t booked anything in advanced as most places you can just arrive and you’re bombarded with people touting their places available, but since our boat was more than an hour late, it left us at the port with little to few options.

One woman proclaimed to have a spot in downtown which is where I was headed to meet with my friends from the Turkey cruise. I believed her, and joined her and her ratty dog in her beat up Suzuki jeep and headed for the place ‘in town’.

In town meant more than a 30 minute walk from it over a mountain, and I quickly stood my ground and told her that this was not what she had described and I wouldn’t be staying there. So out I went with all my stuff and had to walk all the way to the center of town. So my first impression wasn’t so great.

On my way down I met a couple of English girls who joined the walk to the town. Once we arrived, I asked if they knew of a specific bar that I knew my friends were at, and they said ‘no clue’. Right when we bid adieu, I looked up and there it was, right in front of me. So I ran inside thinking I should drop my stuff and go find a place to stay quickly to join them for a late dinner.

Everyone was happy to see me and I was so glad to have met up. Now the challenge was to find a place to stay. I went ahead and took my stuff with me and Ang joined to help out. It was not as easy as I’d thought it would be to find a place, and we went from hotel to hotel to guest house to guest house, not finding anything. Finally we found a store where the shop keeper was very helpful and helped sort out a place that was nearby. Long story short, I was able to get my stuff sorted, at a pretty dodgy place, but great location, so it was fine.

I joined back up with everyone and got some food to eat and hung out before going back to crash.

The next day we tried to organize meeting up, and I walked throughout the whole town which was like a complete maze. It was pretty and cosmetically Greek, with all the white buildings and blue roofs, but also seemed completely fake and catering to the hoards of tourists that filled the alleyways and paths throughout the town. Prices reflected this fakeness as well, and having come from quaint little Samos, I was quickly disinterested in seeing what more Mykonos had to offer.

I went ahead and rented a scooter from the shop next to my apartment and went to find Ang and Cam. We didn’t have internet connections, so we weren’t able to meet up because their stuff was taking forever. Mine took forever with a fiasco with a different scooter company that had quickly come to an end when I said I wanted a scooter that had a gas meter that worked. The store owner didn’t like my ‘demands’ and threw the money back at me and took the helmet right off my head and shewed me away. This type of behavior is reminiscent of behavior I endured in Thailand’s islands that signals to me these places are sick of foreign tourists. Sick as they are of ‘tourists’, I imagine the money they are reaping in by gouging everyone is providing a better lifestyle, but the easiest thing to do as a ‘tourist’ is to just move on and to the next place.

I headed to the meeting spot just to see if Ang and Cam were there, and amazingly on the street passed them on their quad bike. So I did a uturn and joined up with them and we went exploring all over the island stopping at various beaches, eating, laying out in the sun, and visiting little churches. It was fun to have the freedom to go wherever we wanted quickly and easily.

That evening we met up with some other friends they’d met and had some dinner along with going out to see the night life. The bars were crowded and smokey so I didn’t last long at all. After a bit, we called it a night and got our plans together for where we were going the next day. I had a lot of ideas about where I wanted to go next and I was considering going all the way down to Crete with Ang and Cam, but after researching and looking at ticket prices of making my way down there the way I’d thought, I opted to go ahead over to Athens and call it quits on the islands.

The next day I packed up my things again and headed out to the ferry terminal to catch my ferry to Athens. I spent most of the day in the café and got caught up son some email and work.

Samos Island

This morning, I got my stuff together to walk to the port to catch my ferry over to the first of the Greek Isles, Samos. While waiting to leave, I met a fellow traveler who was going the same direction, so we walked together with the owner down to the port. When he left us, I found that Ali was Turkish living in Canada, and we began talking about all sorts of stuff. The boat ride over was nice and our conversations kept fluttering between various topics, and before I knew it, we had formed a great bond.

When we were arriving at port, we decided to stay together and rent a car to explore the island together. This proved to be the best decision ever. We got a quick bite to eat which was ok, and looked at a few places before committing to which tiny car we’d get. We really liked the Greek mentality. I was thinking we needed to take pictures of the car for the damage that existed, or go through marking a sheet. Instead, they said when you’re done, just leave the car somewhere at the port, and leave the keys in it. We laughed at the lax management of this, but then really thought, well we are on an island, where could they take the car?

We then drove to find the place I’d booked. Booking online can leave you very surprised, and I was shocked at what I’d booked. When we got closer to Pythagoria, we pulled to the port and parked and found the hotel completely in the best location, on the main strip of restaurants facing the harbor. It was gorgeous, and exactly what I was looking for. Our room was simple, and Ali decided we could save money by sharing since we’d got on so well so far. After checking in, we explored the nearby castle ruins, and walked to the beach and had a swim in the chilly but refreshing water. We enjoyed the afternoon in the sun, and then went back for a nap before heading out for a nice walk and getting dinner at a place recommended by a friend of his.

The next day, we did more exploring of the island, taking us all around. We first drove to a little town called Mile, which specialized in making the Pythagora cup, a cup made of pottery with a pole in the middle of it. The idea of this cup is to stop greed and maintain equality, as there’s a line at the top of the cup that you should not fill it past. Anything below the line, you can drink from the cup, but anything that is above the line, you lose everything and the entire contents of the cup drain from a hole in the bottom of the cup. It’s a pretty cool gadget :)

After walking around this little village, we continued on to this mountain with a tiny Greek church. We took our tiny little car off roading, and it was quite an adventure, one that I thought might leave us stranded!

We then went up towards the north to Karlovassi and stopped for lunch and explored the town there. We then continued on to Kokkari to enjoy the beach more. This side was a lot rougher than the south side, and while it was nice to see, the waves were so strong that I didn’t even try to get in!

We then made our full circle back at Pythagora and had our dinner and called it a night.

The next day, I made my plan to head over to Mykonos to meet up with some friends made on the Turkish cruise, and Ali’s ship back to Kusadasi left in the late afternoon, so we headed up to my port to go to the beach and enjoy the afternoon at the water before I needed to be dropped off at my port and Ali continue back to drop the car off at his port. It was a beautiful beach again, and was nice and relaxing.