Hydra: The Best Pivot Ever

A wise man once said, “One must be flexible while traveling. All plans are fluid. Be ready to go with the flow.” Ok, we just made that up, but this is great advice! Advice we use from time to time ourselves.

For our loyal readers you possibly picked up on the fact that we are both type A personalities. The days are planned down to the last detail. It gives our little OCD souls comfort like a warm snuggly blanket. Well, life loves plans. Life loves to say “Hold my beer” while they throw a wrench at those well laid out plans, or in our case, heavy winds into the mix. Let’s start with the plan.

The world has so many beautiful landscapes and picturesque beauty that poets and painters have done their best to interpret that beauty into art. Many places you know just from a picture. Many can pick out Alaska from an ocean with a magnificent mountain range as the backdrop. Italy is a dead giveaway when you see the cypress tree lined roads over roaming hills. Now take a moment to imagine Greece in your mind. Close your eyes. Seriously, do it. Done? Ok, did you picture the turquoise waters surrounding the Greek islands? The rising hills building up from the ocean? Yes! That is our picture too! Obviously when in Greece you venture off the mainland to visit those infamous islands.

We have a group of six ranging in age from 18 to 56, so we needed an island adventure that would be able to wow the whole group. We felt some pressure on planning this one and did not follow our own motto- Plan your trip like you are going back. Two of our boys were traveling with us and, more than likely, our last big trip together. At least the last time as kids. You want to pack in as much as possible. Not miss a thing. Show them every nook and cranny in the limited time available. In our search we came across a sailboat trip to visit three islands in one day with an authentic Greek lunch onboard. The islands of Agistri, Moni and Aegina would be explored during our stay.

How is Greek weather? In April? We’re glad you asked! It is spring in Greece in April with temperatures ranging from low 60’s to low 70’s (if you are lucky.) This was honestly perfect weather for us. We have some heat sensitive travelers and coming from northern New York just after March, temps in the low 60’s is summer for us. For the people of Greece this is winter, especially with the winds. High winds and a sailboats do not mix. Jen watched the weather like an obsessive teenage girl trying to score Taylor Swift concert tickets. Craig had to remind her every few minutes that it would be fine, and we would pivot if necessary.

The evening before our day at sea we are getting ready for a rooftop dinner overlooking the Acropolis. We are excited about the following day since the weather, in our opinion, looked perfect. Cue the phone ringing. Who would be calling us? Oh, it is the tour company cancelling our trip due to high winds but we can reschedule for Saturday… the day we fly out. Cue the panic! Jen reverted back to her 16 year old self with tears and may have thrown herself on the bed, but Craig will not confirm nor deny that happened.

Best Pivot Ever

After a moment of disappointment passed, we pulled out our computer and pulled out the pivot. The high winds may prevent a sailboat, but it does not stop the ferries from making the trek from the Port of Athens, Piraeus, to the many islands of Greece. Since we were doing this on our own, we decided to just pick one island and make a day of it. Hydra was an easy choice. It is just over an hour and a half by ferry with multiple ships so you can pick the time that works best for your group. Another perk – no automobiles. Just donkeys ready to have your luggage strapped to their back and carry you to your accommodations.

It took us about fifteen minutes to line everything up for the next day including calling our hotel front desk to have a taxi pick us up and get us to the port the following morning. Look at us going with the flow!

Now to tell our group that the day they were most excited about has been changed. When two of those people are your children and one is someone that hasn’t traveled in 35 years, this task is daunting. To our surprise, everyone was ready to roll with it. We were still going to an island, just slightly different than the original plan. It is hard to remember sometimes that not everyone is so stuck on a plan. Some are happy to just tag along for whatever fate has placed before them. And let us tell you, this was fate stepping in.

The next morning we jumped in our waiting taxis and headed to the Aegean Sea. There are several ferry companies to choose from. We chose one that lined up with our stop and timeline. Upon arrival, Craig had all passports in hand (don’t forget passports for any train or ferry/boat rides in a foreign country) and grabbed our tickets. Since this is not their busy season, we were able to purchase the morning of, but if you are there in the summer be sure to buy in advance. We quickly loaded the ferry that was incredibly efficient and a “no fool around” time schedule. Do not be a minute late because they will not wait for you. Also, have Dramamine on hand just in case. The waves were a bit much for Jen and her land loving legs.

The hour and a half trip went quickly, and we were able to admire the passing landscape and other stunning islands of Greece. Watching the time, we knew we must be close to our drop off. The announcer said Hydra once in Greek and then in English, but we still looked at each other in question. Jen’s sister’s head whipped back at us to ask, “Is this us?” We looked out the large windows again to see the island we were quickly approaching. Remember earlier when we talked about the picture in your head when you think of Greece? Well, we were staring right at it.

Silence enveloped us as we stepped off the boat on this historic, charming, stunning, unique piece of Greece and little slice of our imagination. It was a storybook come to life. Cobblestone streets under our feet leading up to small shops and local cafes offering specialty items not found anywhere else. Donkeys lined up ready to carry your wares or to simply be admired by the ogling tourists. Crystal clear turquoise water lapped at the side of the dock causing you to follow its mesmerizing path out to the sea as it sparkled and winked back at you. A large hill at the center stacked with houses completed the dreamy look.

After we gathered our wits, we looked at our group and Jen’s heart burst right then and there. The smiles on everyone’s faces were truly priceless. They were in the same dreamlike state we were in. In that moment we knew fate stepped in. An island like this needs to be savored and not rushed. Three in one day would have been a race and vacation is about slowing down and appreciating where you are. Best pivot ever.

Our youngest son immediately saw a hat he needed to have, and we felt he must have it. A true Grecian look to go with a true Grecian place. With his hat in place, we walked as a group up the hill wrapping around Kavos Castle and the outer point of the harbor. We spent some time to sit and look out to the sea. Trying our best to soak in every view from every angle. We then did a small photoshoot or two because how do you not try to capture this moment? We did our best, but the pictures do not do it justice.

It was now time to grab a Greek lunch along the harbor. Fortunately, there was plenty to choose from, so we decided on an outdoor table at En Plo. As with every place in Greece the cats came around looking for any spare scraps we could offer. We had a professional one-eyed fat grey cat come by and patiently wait for our food. Of course, we felt awful for him, and he was fed about half of Jake and Lydia’s lunch. Once we were out of food, he went to the next table to begin his game of “feed the poor one-eyed cat all of your food.” We laughed at how quickly he took off from us and the sheer size of him.

After a wonderful lunch we were ready to explore more of Hydra. The Hydra Loop as some call it is a walkway around the island with the ocean at your side. While it was only in the upper 60’s that day the sun was plentiful, and it did not take long for us to feel the heat on this mild hike through the island. We stopped frequently to admire the flowers, trees, landscape, and of course to pet the cats. It was leisurely and not rushed and gave us such a great opportunity to take it in.

We made our way back to the main town to do some shopping for our loved ones back home. One-of-a-kind jewelry and paintings were picked up. Ice cream from a local store was enjoyed by the ocean. We even went out onto the docks to get a closer look at the yachts and museum-worthy sailboats tied up for the afternoon.

All too quickly it was time to catch our boat back to the mainland. Sun-kissed and big smiles all around. We spent the whole trip back reminiscing on what an incredible day we had and how well that worked out. Sometimes the best thing to happen is for fate to step in and say, “Hold my beer.” Best pivot ever.

We hope you enjoyed our unexpected trip to Hydra and made you excited for your own misadventures! If you would like to visit Greece, reach out to us and we would love to plan your Greek adventure! You can read about our first day in Greece here.

Thank you for reading, and #NeverStopPlanning.

Jen and Craig

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