Our sweet night lingered to sweet dreams, which were abruptly disrupted by our 5:30AM wake-up call. Dimi, our skipper, wanted to leave Methana early – and this was early. We were out of port by 6AM and on our way to Hydra. Hydra lies between the islands of Spetes and Poros situated near the coast of Peloponnese. Movie buffs might remember it from the famous Sophia Loren movie, Boy on a Dolphin (1957). Maybe more memorable is the lack of vehicles on the island (aside from the mini garbage trucks). Only your two feet or you can opt for a donkey ride to get around town!
We were early to port and able to get a great dockside parking spot (avoiding our previous Aegina disaster). We anchored in no time and Dimi put out the gangplank for us to get ashore. By this point, we were getting quite good at navigating this small piece of wood. However, the Hydra dock was a good distance higher than our boat, which meant this wooden bridge now on a steep uphill slant began to look more like a toothpick! Again, everyone stayed dry – success!
Dimi told us about a good swimming spot up a hill on the outer edge of the island. We found a cute restaurant at the top of the hill, which unfortunately wasn’t open. A sign boasted this place was the second place winner for the restaurant with the best view. Of course, everyone wanted to know what the first place restaurant was (funny they weren’t advertising that). Side note: After some post-trip research, I found out the first place winner was: Skyline Restaurant, Queenstown, New Zealand.
We decided to go back to town and eat lunch first, then swim. Passing the donkeys, we reached the first and, dare I say, only place we saw (during the entire trip) selling gyros. It seems gyros are considered fast food and Greek Islanders don’t give it much thought. I can tell you who does give it a lot of thought, us and other tourists! The place was packed but it was worth it! These treats were so yummy, just be sure to get the gyro sauce – the slovaki sauce is good but not as good as the yogurt sauce. Also, the gyro meat was only beef, chicken or pork…no lamb, which is what we thought would be the only meat…yet another travel surprise!
And while I’m on the topic, guess what else we never had on our trip? Hummus! It took us four days to stop asking every restaurant if they served it. They do serve fava bean. This is a bunch of pureed fava beans drizzled with oil and red onions. It’s similar but it’s not hummus. Who knew? Now, we all do!
After scarfing down our gyros, we got our beach stuff (down the gangplank, up the gangplank) and went swimming. The area was a little crowded but it was totally cool to swim right off this huge cliff while watching all the boats come in and out of port. The water was clear and perfect.
After the swim (down the gangplank/up the gangplank), we changed and walked through the town. It was just so picturesque, just exactly how you’re imagining a Greek Island. On the other islands we’d visited, stray dogs were everywhere. Here in Hydra, it’s the island of cats! There were so many cats. After a grocery-restocking trip for us, we went back to the boat (down the gangplank…this time I got a round of applause from the boaters next to us. I’m telling you, it was treacherous).
While we lounged around the boat before dinner drinking some awesome Sangria Alison made, one of those little cats came aboard. Oh wait, did I forget to mention Bill has a heart of gold and while we were shopping, he couldn’t resist buying some cat food and feeding a few of the little kitties. Hhhmmm, would you be surprised then when I tell you, it was Bill who got some food out to entice the cat off the boat. Would you be any less surprised that once the cat was off the boat, he came right back on? You might be surprised though when I tell you, Bill went to get more meat for the cat until Dimi finally convinced him the cat would be fine and would leave the boat on his own once he wasn’t getting fed. Yes, yes there are always lots of surprises when traveling!
We contemplated going to the restaurant on top of the cliff for dinner but decided on an Italian place (also great views although not award-winning). When I say Italian, I actually mean Greek with an Italian touch but it was really good. And if you’re a chocolate lover, the dessert they gave us would have made your dreams come true.
Travel Tip: Although we were lucky to have Dimi with us, it’s always great to explore when you are traveling. Of course, pay attention to your safety but it’s just a great way to get a real taste of the local culture.
During the day and evening, many late boaters had anchored to us (I know, aren’t WE nice?). We even let them use our boat as a bridge to the dock (they did have to navigate “toothpick hill” to actually get off). However, this meant we had to wait for them to leave before we could. The first boat was gone by 9am – no problem. Now we had to wait for the next one. By 10am, the boat’s skipper was just starting to get ready. You could tell he was a control freak and was doing everything while his crew sat helplessly waiting.
To note, there were two other boats alongside us waiting for him and then us to leave so they could depart. Amazingly, nobody said a word to him…of course on our boat, we couldn’t stop talking to one another about it! When the “late” boat finally started to move out, its anchor got hooked onto the anchor of a huge ship docked across the port. It was so embarrassing for that skipper. It took him another 15 minutes to free his boat. The applause from us, the crews of the other boaters, along with people on the dock watching the whole scene, surprisingly, didn’t seem to make him feel better. As soon as we were out, up went our sails and we were off to Poros!