At the end of the first week of classes, my school took the international students to the small island of Hydra. Everyone was excited because it happened to be every college kid’s dream – free. At the same time, it was every college kid’s nightmare – 4:45am wake up call.
After some grogginess, a slight amount of whining, and no breakfast because to us, that extra 15 minutes of sleep was more crucial then a full stomach, we were off to the Athen’s Port of Rafina. The bus ride was interesting because we went through neighborhoods that we Americans might call “inner city areas.” It can be very hard to decipher whether something in Athens is inner city or not because of two large components: graffiti and run down buildings.
We quickly learned in our first few weeks that graffiti is often not violent, it most of the time is honestly just a way for people to express how they feel. Walking down the street, there may even be beautiful pieces of graffiti artwork expressing feelings of political distress.
The explanation for the run down buildings could be a result of the economic crisis. Nevertheless, at the same time, it could also have to do with the fact that this city has been here for ages. It’s important to remember that Greece (Athens in particular) has survived revolutions, wars, and the turn over of many empires.
The bus pulled into the port and we snoozed around for an hour or so before we got onto the ferry. When the time came to load up, we noticed that our seats looked very much like airplane seats. This meant one thing – time for a nap.
We got to the Island of Hydra and everything was so picturesque. I feel as if I had hit “Search Images” on Google and it literally took me to location. The water was clear and blue, buildings were white, and boats were sailing.
The island of Hydra is small but full of history. In the 12th century BCE, the island suffered the Dorian Invasion which wiped out the entire population. It was then repopulated by herders and farmers. It lost its population again during the Latin Empire of Constantinople due to pirate invasions. Bad luck struck for a third time during the 1700’s when the plague infested Hydra. As if that wasn’t enough, later on it was part of the Greek Revolution. Essentially, we swam, walked, and explored on a very large graveyard.
A few of us were on our way to swim in one of Hydra’s famous caves when we discovered we had lost our way. Though we did more walking (uphill) then I expected, we ended up wondering through a beautiful neighborhood. The streets were brought to life with blue and white, making the water below seem painted onto a canvas.
By the time we found a beach and swam a little, it was time for lunch. Lunch was just as colorful as the scenes surrounding us. It was a four course meal infused with shades that seemed only appropriate for the trip. The meal consisted of spicy feta cheese, bread, green pasta, salad, chicken, fish, and a chocolate mousse to top it all off.
When we all digested, we walked around for a little, then decided it was time to find that cave to swim in. The cave was conveniently placed by a small cliff to jump off of. (Totally safe, by the way, there was a four year old doing it). Everyone jumped in and my friend Ivy and I had bought goggles to see what was below us. We swam with a school of fish and beautiful ocean plants that thanks to Ivy and Zac’s GoPro, we got photos of.
We watched the sunset from the beach and it was up to the standards of the island for certain. It happened slowly enough that we got to soak it in and take mental photographs that we wouldn’t forget.
The night would not be perfect without….ICE CREAM! Of course the perfect island had the perfect gelato shop conveniently placed right by our ferry stop. We ate, laughed, and almost fell asleep from a long yet satisfying, 14 hour day.
- There is only one vehicle allowed on Hydra – the garbage truck
- If you order fish to eat, there are bones, beware.