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15 October 2005

Thoughts on Hydra

When normal becomes special

The trip to Hydra left a deep impression on me. I visited an island devoid of cars and motorcycles. I filled up on oxygen and clean air. I let my ears rest in the quiet and the few excellent sounds. Like when walking through the streets discovering a restaurant by hearing the chatter and clinging of glasses and plates. Like hearing the footsteps of other pedestrians on the next street. Read on for more thoughts and experiences...

People talk softer on Hydra. We did not see overweight people and the islanders take big steps like you get from walking a lot. Because there is less noise, there is no urge to overpower other sounds with loud music. There are lots of cats in town, stray cats and house cats. Even the cats are more friendly than their cousins in Athens. Could be because they likely have not seen a car in their life.

Flying Dolphin, arriving in Hydra

Different ways to get things going

When you want to transport something, you have to use your muscles and a handcarriage, or you might use the power of a donkey. One encounters the smell of donkey poo quite frequently in the streets. This might sound absurd to you, for in your life you enjoy the convenience of your car or you might need it because of having to cover big distances. But I have learned in those few hours, that it is possible. We are humans, we conquered this planet not because we were the laziest species, but because we are the most adaptable.

We went to Hydra with a big gaz guzzling "Flying Dolphin" (1.5 hours from Pireus, about 19 Euro one way, the picture shows one arriving). Another option would have been a "regular" ship, which takes 3.5 hours and the ticket costs about half the price.

View on Hydra from the hotel Dina

The hotel Dina

We chose not to stay in a hotel near the port, but to try our luck in the small backstreets. We walked a bit and with the help of a friendly lady found the hotel "Dina" on a hill. Very pleasant and recommended. It did not have that "hotelly" athmosphere. Our room went right out to the terrasse (where we had breakfast from the bakery next morning, the picture shows the view). We noticed more of these small hotels throughout town, plenty of places to stay. We did not see any trace of luxury htoels or big concrete tourist traps. Maybe they are in other parts of the island. At least the more luxurious hotels must be somewhere around, for Hydra was a fashionable resort for Athenians from the 1960 on.

The weather was a bit colder than usual for early October, but κυρία Ντίνα (Mrs. Dina) had provided plenty of warm blankets. I slept deep and untroubled and with many interesting dreams. There are many small churches around. On sunday morning they all sounded their bells in turn, but I slept through all but the last one.

Karagiosis, Greek shadow theatre

Going to the theatre

But before that, the same evening we found the hotel, we had been going out. First we went to the Greek shadow theatre "Καραγκιόζης" (Karagiosis), that we had discovered on a small handmade poster. The themes and figures and stories are known to all Greek children. The figure of "Καραγκιόζης" is a symbol throughout Greece. So I was looking forwart to seeing Karagiosis played in a real theatre. The stage was set up on a sideroad of the "περιβολάκια" (perivolakia) square. The small backlighted stage, a bit of cardboard and some bottle cages to sit on the cobblestones, plus the tables of a restaurant next door for more audience. The setup looked suitable enough (Picture).

Sadly, the performance wasn't up to it. The show host turned it into a school session. The story would have involved a donkey, but after a long time of quasi-school and introducing characters, we still had not seen the donkey. It was not only us, but the children got bored too, leaving one by one and in small groups. They were openly talking about what games they could go and play. At some moment we had enough and left.

Dining out

By that time we had grown hungry, so we went looking for a restaurant. It was not hard to find them, the town is quite small and you can hear them from afar. We were looking for one where we could sit inside, because we were also getting cold. After looking at a few we made our choice. There we had fresh seafood. We loaded our table with salad, potatoes, octopus, pies, and one "portion" of kalamari, which turned out to be one huge kalamari. Kalamari are quite often deep frozen in Greece, but the deep frozen ones are all the same size. Our oversized one was proof of being fresh in itself. We went home warmed up by food and Ouzo to the deep sleep I have already described.

Posted by betabug at 20:01 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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