Sunday, December 30, 2018

Greece | Saronic Gulf | Hydra

Hoping to escape the end of the year hubbub in Athens I wandered out to the island of Hydra in the Saronic Gulf, about 50 miles south of Athens and just over two hours by one of the “Flying C” catamaran ferry boats. Apparently this place is hugely popular in the summer but it is very quiet right now. After the last boat of the day heads back to Athens the harbour area is pretty much deserted.
Hydra  (click on photos for enlargements)
Harbour of Hydra
Quiet cafe at the harbour
Equine Transport
No cars allowed on the island, so if have heavy luggage to take to your hotel, or you are unable to walk, you have to rent a mule or a horse. Of course all I had was a small easily carriable portmanteau, and I am still able to walk, so I did not avail myself of equine transport.
Old Fortifications. Hydra played a prominent role in the 1821 War of Independence against the Ottoman Turks.
Coastline east of Hydra Town
View from my hotel room

Addendum: I thought I had picked out Hydra at random from a list of Greek islands easily accessible from Athens, but I kept having this nagging suspicion that I had heard of it somewhere before. Not until my third day on the island did it suddenly occur to me where I had first encountered Hydra. It is mentioned in the book The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller, which I had read in college, along with the Rosy Crucifixion: Sexus, Plexus, NexusMiller had a lot to say about Hydra. Here is just a sample:
Our destination was Hydra where Ghika and his wife awaited us. Hydra is almost a bare rock of an island and its population, made up almost exclusively of seamen, is rapidly dwindling. The town, which clusters about the harbor in the form of an amphitheatre, is immaculate. There are only two colors, blue and white, and the white is whitewashed every day, down to the cobblestones in the street. The houses are even more cubistically arranged than at Poros. Aesthetically it is perfect, the very epitome of that flawless anarchy which supersedes, because it includes and goes beyond, all the formal arrangements of the imagination. This purity, this wild and naked perfection of Hydra, is in great part due to the spirit of the men who once dominated the island. For centuries the men of Hydra were bold, buccaneering spirits: the island produced nothing but heroes and emancipators. The least of them was an admiral at heart, if not in fact. To recount the exploits of the men of Hydra would be to write a book about a race of madmen; it would mean writing the word DARING across the firmament in letters of fire.

Curiously, several years ago I bought a Kindle version of The Colossus of Maroussi with the thought of rereading it, but for some reason I never got around to it until now. It has been sitting in Kindle Cloud all this time, apparently just waiting for me to reach Hydra myself.

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