We sailed away from the bustling, busy streets of Athens to enjoy the peace and beauty found out on the Aegean Sea…
Greece has many islands accounting for 17% of its territory. Authorities have estimated 1600-6000 islands exist (kind of large range there) 166-277 are said to be inhabited.
The weather in May has been a bit moody. Most days are sunny and around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit, while some days storms roll through with lightning, thunder, rain and 60 degree weather. There is also a lingering fog that settles into Athens every once in awhile.
This day it was supposed to rain, but we got lucky. These pictures are of the various islands we passed on our 36-mile cruise to Hydra.
Hydra is 50 square kilometers and the southernmost island of the Saronic Gulf. It has a rocky coastline and it’s highest peak is 593 meters high. After seeing many islands without much going on, we saw civilization nestled into this little pocket.
As we got closer, you can see just how charming this little town is. It is truly a breath of fresh air and a whole different world from the huge city of Athens we had been in just a few hours earlier.
An interesting thing about Hydra is there is a ban on all motorized vehicles. There are many hiking trails you can walk, or if you are the adventurous type, you can saddle up on a donkey for your exploration.
As you walk through Hydra, you find restaurant after restaurant with large outdoor seating areas. The colorful couches with comfortable looking cushions just beg you to have a seat, soak up some rays, and sip a coffee or cocktail. You can also browse through shops for clothes, shoes, natural soaps in our case, and souveniers. Each hour on the hour the clock tower bells ring, reminding you time is indeed passing on this little paradise.
I could imagine staying in one of those houses nestled up on the hill and living the slow island life for awhile.
If you visit, there are many places where you can swim too. Molos ,Kaminia and Vlyhos are recommended spots to ride or walk to.After Hydra, we headed off toward Poros while enjoying a tasty all you can eat buffet on board and chatting with some new Greek friends we met.
Poros is an island which is somewhat quiet yet cosmopolitan. It is known for its beautiful beaches, lively waterfront and pine tree vegetation.
Sailing seems to be the thing to do in these parts.
We got off and walked all the way down the dock, past boat after boat after boat, and found another clock tower.
It was quite cool cruising into this area as both sides of the waterway are lined with buildings. It would be fun to stay and cross back and forth.
Our last stop for the day was the island of Aegina. Aegina is only 17 miles from Piraeus where we began and used to be a rival of Athens in ancient times. It is 33 square miles and 2/3rds of it are composed of an extinct volcano. However, the land is fertile and the main crop grown here is …pistachios mmm.
We walked down the waterfront to find many pistachio stands, ice cream shops, fresh fruits and vegetables, and luxurious yachts and sailboats.
We couldn’t help but notice this church, so walked down to take a closer look.It is the Panagitsa church originally built in 1673 and rebuilt in 1906.
Aegina is also home to the Temple of Aphaea. This is a temple dedicated to the goddess of Aphaia which was built in 570 B.C. on the remains of an older temple.
After Aegina, it was time to sail home to our home for the month in Athens. We were lucky enough to have an amazing sky to take in on our ride back to town.
How Can You Get There?
There are a few ways to get to the Greek islands. You can take a ferry, fly, rent a yacht with a sea captain, take a speed boat, or take a cruise. We opted for the one day cruise which takes you to each island. We were picked up bright and early in a nice charter bus at 7 am and were dropped back off around 8p.m.. We booked through Key Tours and they took care of everything. It ranges from 85 Euro to 99 Euro per person and includes lunch, entertainment, and shuttle service. The boat had 3 floors, bars, snacks, shopping, and people from all over the world which made for a good time.
Traveler Tip: One of us gets seasick pretty easily and he made it through without a problem despite choppy conditions at times.
These islands were really nice, especially Hydra. I’m really wanting to come back and stay on Crete or Mykonos next time. Athens has some very good food and interesting historical sites, but the islands are a breath or fresh air and nice change of scenery.