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Friday, April 4, 2014

Busy week with friends

Island of Hydra

Friends of ours who are living in Prague for two years visited us in Greece with their two young children. We will return the favor in a couple of weeks, visiting them in Prague. We all had a wonderful, if busy, time. Two trips to Athens and a trip to an island called for early mornings and often turned into late nights, at least for the little ones. L1 was so excited to have a playmate his age, and continues to talk about E (the daughter of our visiting family). I think the highlight of the visit for the kids was exploring the front yard, picking flowers, playing with sticks, and running through the bushes. Never mind hiking up the Acropolis. We have now visited the Parthenon three times, and each time it has been necessary to encourage the kids' climb to the top with the promise of snacks once we get there.

The kids picking up rocks and flowers.

Island of Hydra

We took two days to visit the island of Hydra, which had been recommended to us by several locals. This is one of three islands (the others are Spetses and Poros) close to Athens that the Greeks, themselves, visit for vacation. Hydra has no motorized vehicles except for a few work and emergency trucks. The island is quiet and picturesque, perfect for strolling through narrow streets and enjoying a coffee break in a port-side cafĂ©. Because there are no cars, donkeys act as luggage porters – and as entertainment for the kids. L1 calls Hydra, “Donkey Island” for this reason. L1 and E shared a donkey ride, while L2 and I rode another donkey on a loop through Hydra Town.  L1 spent a good portion of his mad money (thanks Chris and Christina!) on bronze figurines of a donkey and a dolphin.

Greek Independence Day

Greek Independence Day

The day we arrived happened to be Greek Independence Day (March 25) when the people of Greece commemorate their war of independence from the Ottoman Empire starting in 1821. Greece had become part of the Ottoman Empire in 1453. As we sat on a side street eating lunch, a parade of school children came by, bearing flags and dressed in traditional costume. It was a nice happenstance.

Lunch under blooming wisteria.

The streets of Hydra

We stayed at the excellent Mistral Hotel, and had a long lunch on the first day at a tavern just around the corner from our hotel. We sat outside under a pergola covered in wisteria, enjoying the fragrance of the flowers and the soft sea air. The kids ran around (sometimes under) tables and  chased cats (of which Hydra has many; all appear well-fed). The waiter encouraged us to come to the kitchen and pick our food, including fresh fish. I don’t know what kind of fish it was, but it was certainly delectable – almost like lobster, with creamy, white flesh, served with clarified butter. Yum. Hydra provided a lovely island experience. It is hard to choose a favorite event of our time in Greece, but visiting Hydra was certainly a highlight that we will remember fondly.

Anyone know the red fish? It was delicious.

Breakfast at the Mistral Hotel on Hydra

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