When our speed boat docked in the tiny harbour of Hydra on a cloudy June morning, I was overwhelmed by the exhilarating feeling I felt when I was a child on my first day of summer vacation. A mere hour and a half from Athens, Hydra is the epitome of relaxed cosmopolitanism.
Photo Credits: Constantinos Sofikitis
What makes Hydra special is that it’s car free. Escaping a city where a car is a necessary evil, I was glad I would have to use my legs for once. Hydra is indeed the best place for people who like casual walks. From the harbour to Kamini, one passes by small houses made of stones perched on hills overlooking the Aegean. In June, the island is not yet very busy so one only occasionally crosses paths with a couple of tourists or locals who always greet with a wide smile and with whom you’ll share that rewarding look of understanding you’ve discovered a small corner of summer paradise.
With its small size, Hydra is a welcoming place. After a couple of days you start recognising faces and you’re never in a hurry to do things – everything is at stone’s throw away from each other. You can leisurely take the time to enter as many stylish shops as your wallet allows, drink all the delicious iced coffees and cocktails, and daydream uninterrupted for hours without feeling you’re missing out on something. Time runs a bit slower in Hydra.
This sense of slowing time definitely adds to the Hydra’s poetic vibe. From the coming and going of stylish yachts, fishermen’s tiny boats and water taxis unloading tourists, Hydra’s pace feels more naturally choreographed than almost any other Greek island.
Hydra is really the perfect place to unwind for a couple of days (or the whole summer quite frankly). Ten seconds in and it was clear to me, why Leonard Cohen fell in love with the island, bought a house and remained devout to it for over 40 years. As for us who don’t have the luck to own one of the island’s few and coveted houses, we can simply return over and over to steal a bit of Hydra’s summery fairy dust.
Thanks to Ismini Tornivouka for her tips, and Bertha Carasso for her photography skills. And a special shout-out to Constantinos Sofikitis for sharing with us some of his photos from Hydra.