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The Greek island of Hydra

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Hydra lies in the Argo-Sardonic archipelago between the islands of Poros and Spetses, 37 nautical miles from Piraeus. It has an area of 50 square kilometres and a shoreline of 55 kilometres and is serviced by ships, ferries and hydrofoil.

Hydra played an important role during the Greek Revolution. During the 19th century it emerged as a formidable maritime power and the revolutionary, Andreas Miaoulis, was one of its heroes, still honoured on Hydra each year with a festival.

One of the most cosmopolitan points in the Mediterranean, the island has stunningly beautiful architecture and landscapes. Its' important history and proximity to Athens have also combined to raise the island's profile for international tourism. Add to that the warm hospitality of locals and it's almost heaven.

Hydra was first "discovered" in the fifties and sixties by a group of artists, including Leonard Cohen, attracted by its authentic and magical beauty. It has gained the title of "artist colony" giving it a cosmopolitan and fashionable character.

Its one village, Hydra Town, is the capital and main port on an island of traditional red-tiled houses built one on top of the other and separated by stone-paved narrow alleys. Hydra has a non-vehicle policy, and that includes bicycles and scooters, and getting around is on foot or by donkey.

There are no beaches to speak of; mostly flat rocks where people soak up the sun with intermittent dips in the wonderful blue waters of the Aegean. There are small villages around 10 minutes apart by boat and visitors are always made welcome. On the way you can stop for a swim and maybe enjoy a lunch of barbecued fish with some local wine.

One of those little villages is the tiny fishing hamlet of Kaminia, built around a shallow inlet. It is a quiet alternative to Hydra Town, with taverns serving superb fish meals and views of the island of Spetses.

Vlichos is a 15-minute walk from Kaminia and has wonderful views of the Peloponnese coast. It has new homes built in the traditional 19th century style, a tavern, café and a large grey pebble beach.

Back in Hydra Town, the morning markets are a must. Fresh vegetables, fruit and fish are sold from wooden boats in the harbour, sailed in from the farms of the Peloponnese. Octopus, squid and lobster can be bargained for.

There are specialist pastry shops crammed with wonderful delights oozing honey and pistachio nuts, ice cream and coffee. Amigdalota — almond cakes — are famous on Hydra and local custom says if you are invited to a home, you should arrive with a gift box of Greek pastries or cakes. There are mini markets on the island where you can buy anything from feta cheese to cosmetics.

There are shops and workshops selling jewellery, ceramics, carpets, clothing, embroidered goods and local souvenirs. There are frequent exhibitions of works by well-known international artists living on Hydra.

During summer, the Festival of Ancient Tragedy and Comedy is held on weekend trips to Epidayros. Live performances are held in the ancient theatre.

Hydra comes to life at night and there is a great variety of pubs, bars, discos, restaurants and cafés along the harbour.

The four-star Angelica Hotel has two buildings which were old mansions. The first has been turned into a hotel with ten double rooms, three triple and one single. All have ensuite facilities, air-conditioning, television and telephone. Most lead to a balcony or terrace.

VIP rooms are in the second mansion. There are eight rooms with old and modern style, blended to provide charming accommodation.

Location

A Greek Island in the Aegean Sea.

Cost

The Greece & Mediterranean Travel Centre has two-night packages, staying at Hotel Angelica, including return ferry from Athens and breakfast each day. They start at $290 per person twin share.

Emirates has flights to Athens.

Fares from;
  • Melbourne, $2036
  • Brisbane, $2038
  • Sydney, $2053
  • Perth, $2199
  • Adelaide, $2655
  • Darwin, $3588

Valid for sale until March 31, 2008 and for travel between October 4 and November 11, 2007. Prices quoted correct at April 5, 2007.

More information

Greece & Mediterranean Travel Centre
Suite 2, 644
Botany Road
Alexandria 2015
Ph: 02-93134633 / 1300 661 666
Fax: 02-93134475
Website: www.greecemedtravel.com
Email: info@greecemedtravel.com.au

Hotel Angelica
Andrea Miaouli 43,
18040, Hydra Island
Greece
Ph: 30 22980 53202 & +30 22980 53264
Fax: 30 22980 53542
Website: www.angelica.gr
Email: angelhyd@otenet.gr

Emirates
Ph: 1300 303 777
Website: www.emirates.com

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