Friday, April 24, Hydra, Greece
The Star Clipper anchored off the coast of Hydra, an island of green rugged hills, barren and wild. The top of the cliffs looked like wonderful places to walk, and I knew then my day would include hike on one of the seaside paths. The crew prepared the tenders for our last view of the ship in full sail. A sailing ship is a work of art–the design, the grace, the elegance as the clipper floats majestically on the sea. The sails fluttered, and the sun lite up the white sails against the blue sky. The crew stood on the bowsprit, while camera buffs in the tender snapped away to keep the memory of the dramatic scene.
I had found a group of friends while on the clipper, and together we stepped down the clattering steps of the gangplank for the ride in the tender to the island. A small bay of the Argosaronic Gulf surrounds Hydra, shaped like an amphitheater.
Donkeys and their escorts lined the wharf area, and from that moment, a donkey obsession possessed me. I took photographs and videos of any donkey that clip-clopped by. I couldn’t help myself . . . where else in the world are donkeys the only means of transport? Laws forbid motorized vehicles on Hydra, making the island a quiet and peaceful place. Continuous steps took us down the alleys and more steps led us back up again. We wandered the narrow cobblestone streets looking in the shop windows.
We turned the corner around to the other side of town and walked to a lovely little café with expansive views of the bay and our Star Clipper outlined against the blue hazy mountains. As I sat down at the table, I felt like I had become part of a painting. Was this real? Was this a dream? It seems so now. We sipped our drinks as we shared stories and wondered at the visual splendor before us.
I explored the trail that went through the hamlets along the coast. Well-laid gray stones provided the path, and yellow daisies in their finest display gathered on either side of the walkway. I could not believe the beauty of this island, as I came across whitewashed villages, with traditional architectural elements, such as doors in stone walls with vines toppling over wooden arches. Donkeys grazed on grassy knolls and roosters crowed. I came to a pointed arched bridge, and then turned around to walk back along the seaside trail.
My day spent with friends on Hydra was a good day.