I’m planning another trip to Greece with friends and this awesome little island is definitely on the itinerary. Have you been? I just love the place.
Hydra is one of my favorites among all of the Greek islands — and I’m not alone. Artists, writers, musicians, intellectuals, and free spirits have all sought solitude, solace, or inspiration there. It’s a magical, sun-soaked spot surrounded by the all-entrancing, blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
Henry Miller spent time there. Along with Laurence Durrell of Alexandria Quartet fame and the flamboyant, Greek intellectual, called Katsimbalis. Reknowned travel writer, war hero and adventurer, Patrick Lee Fermor lived on the island. Nobel Prize-winning poet George Seferis did too — and he sang Hydra’s praises in verse. It was also home to one of modern Greece’s most influential artists, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Gikas.
If you are a Leonard Cohen afficiando, you might know that he bought a house there. So did minamalist artist Brice Marden, who still lives on the island. As do many other artists, musicians, and wealthy Athenians.
Lately, Hydra’s been the haunt of billionaire Greek art collector and benefactor, Dakis Joannou who is making the island a gathering place for important artists, dealers and collectors from all over the world.
But Hydra’s still unspoiled. An ideal place to chill for a week or two — or for just a long weekend, the captivating little island is only two hours or so by fast boat from the frenetic port of Piraeus, just outside of Athens.
OK. I know what you’re thinking: refugee crisis! Is the island affected? No, it’s not. Hydra is located southwest of mainland Greece — not in the eastern Mediterranean, close to Tukey, where islands like Kos, Leros, Lesvos, Samos and Symi are experiencing problems you see in the news.
So, what makes Hydra so appealing? One of the most beautiful harbors in all of Greece. A feeling that time has stopped still or, at the very least, slowed down considerably. Unbelievable charm. And no motor vehicles.
Some years ago, I spent a week on Hydra doing nothing more than soaking up the rhythms of the island, savouring its freshly-caught, grilled fish and walking the meandering, herb-scented paths, all the while being seduced by the ever-present, sparkling, Grecean-blue, Aegean Sea. My wife Trulee was there with me to share in the experience — and to paint.
A watercolor she did of the view from the patio of our little, white-washed house, built into the rocky hillside high above the harbor, captures the magic of our lazy afternoons there. I looked at it this morning, as I do every morning — and like the island itself, it always enchants me.