Okay, close your eyes and picture Greece. Picture the white houses that look like their toppling over each other as they make their way to the top of the hill. Picture the teal water turning to deep blue as it leaves the cliff of rocks lining the shore. Picture the donkeys with colorful saddles strapped to their back, waiting patiently as their owners clip luggage onto them to help the locals up the cobble stone streets. Now open your eyes. If this isn’t exactly what you were imagining, it has to be pretty darn close.
Welcome to Hydra, as you and I and every American after us will pronounce it, or, as it’s actually pronounced, Idra. It’s a small island that houses 2,000 people during the Winter months, and makes the impressive jump to 5,000 during the summer months. A quaint little home known for it’s hikes, shopping and views.
I arrived on Friday night after a hour and a half boat ride from Piraeus Port with Nicole, Sydney, my best friend from high school, Cara, and her friend, Kara (Same name, I know). The 5 of us were met on the dock by a small Greek woman named Vicky who was the cutest, sweetest woman maybe ever. She greeted us all with hugs and told us to follow her to the Airbnb. On the 10 minute walk down a side street away from the water she explained that mainly locals were living here at the time and it would be very easy to get around to do everything and see everything that we wanted to. We stepped off the cobblestone street to walk through a 3 foot wide opening between white buildings to continue 20 feet to reach her apartment. We took the apartment on the right, while she and her husband and son shared the one on the left. With 2 bedrooms and a pullout couch, we were set for the weekend.
The airbnb also had another little surprise. The rooftop terrace was a 360 view of the copper colored rooftops covering the white houses that packed Idra. It was such a beautiful sight that no picture I took will do it any justice, but I’ll try anyway.
Friday night we went to dinner and ordered, well, everything. Shrimp pasta, margarita pizza, caprese salad, french fries with bacon and a bottle of the island made wine. We asked the waiter, Stayos, who quickly became our friend, where we should head to next and he suggested The Red Club which he claimed would be lively and perfect for a group of young girls like us. To say we were the youngest in this bar would be an understatement, but that did anything but stop us. We danced the Macarena with 60 year old Greek women and their husbands until late in the night, walking back to our Airbnb in the pouring rain, saying hello to every soaking wet cat we passed by.
The next morning we woke up to a bright, beautiful day, that lasted all of 1 hour. By the time we arrived at breakfast, back at Stayos’s place, rain was heavily coming down and crashing waves splattered the boardwalk. We stayed at brunch for hours, watching the wind blow passersby’s hair into knots and the boats pulling at the ropes that tied them to shore.
We spent a little time shopping but Idra, in typical Greece fashion, takes their midday siesta’s very seriously. Everything besides maybe 3 restaurants close down daily from 2-5pm. We ate dinner at a small Greek place near our Airbnb called Lulu’s, where once the woman found out Sydney and I are taking a Greek class, she didn’t leave our side, determined to teach us more. We ate Greek salad, fried cheese and ouzo, trying to shove all the ‘Greece’ we could down Cara and Kara’s throats before we all had to leave the next day.
Sunday we shopped and shopped and shopped. Cute boutiques with the most beautiful jewelry I have ever seen line the boardwalk, and over priced sunglasses stores are scattered throughout. Of course, they have the typical touristy souvenir shops which is where we spent most of our money, but we walked through the rest too.
We were able to barter our way down to 10 euro with the donkey men who stand near the port, and he gave us a mini tour around the streets while we all sat on our own donkeys. Picture that scene in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants where Lena is sitting on the donkey, nervous and unsteady struggling up a cobblestone hill. That was more or less us for 20 minutes.
Saying goodbye to Idra was incredibly difficult, I just didn’t want to leave. It was beautiful and peaceful and I was with my best friends. It was a relaxing weekend, definitely needed before St Patty’s Day in Dublin next week. Here’s more of the pretty pictures I took, (This may have been my favorite weekend so far!)
BYE IDRA! (Mom&Dad, you’re going to absolutely love it)