- Shelley Dark
#6 loitering on Hydra
You know those winds that blow straight through you even though your jacket is zipped up? The ones that make you look down to check that you really did put your scarf on and wonder why you left your beanie at home? We had one today.
Not all day though. This morning it was raining, after lunch it was miserable, and late this afternoon it became icy-windy-sunny. Just my cup of tea.
When I woke I decided I needed to make a list of things and places I want to find. For an island which caters to tourists, Hydra sure doesn't make it easy. It's one of those places that hooks its thumbs in its pockets and says sure we're gorgeous. Why should we try harder?
I found a tourist map in the middle of a booklet (yayyyyyy a booklet!) on a shelf in the living room. It would be extremely helpful if you were trying to find every hotel in town. Not so good if you want to find Kala Pigadia.
There's a place on the map that looks interesting. Spoiled Shop. Hmmmm. It started off life as Really Fresh Shop?
I have the ViaMichelin app on my phone and it just sent me a notification saying it's holiday time so check the traffic. Out of my window I can see eighty-two parked boats and one man with a box on a trolley. Thank goodness for ViaMichelin or I might have missed him.
I actually started off this morning with the intention of taking all my questions over to the archives. But I began calling in on shops I hadn't seen open before - a tourist boat had arrived with about twenty people. Rush hour.
I love the way this woman brings her groceries upstairs. On a rope. Her friend tied it on to the basket for her.
In a dress shop called Ydra I met Vaso and Katerina. This is Vaso. I asked them if they knew of anyone in town who might give me an historical tour. Someone with an understanding of Hydra at the time of the revolution. Someone who loves history. I thought they might say Father George!
Katerina said, 'Yes I know who! There's a history teacher I know - she'd be great and I bet she'd do it!' I gave her my details and have my fingers crossed.
The cathedral precinct right on the harbour has the church in the middle and a double storied cloister around the outside, with the pretty bell tower you can see from out at sea. Like many churches of that era, it's dark and depressing. Only the gold and silver of wall-to-wall religious icons light the gloom.
There was no gallery in the church. George must have meant the gallery of the cloister. I went upstairs, in and out of one over-heated room after another until I found a tired administrator snuggled up to her computer. She almost raised her hand to her keyboard, but then let it drop. She was very despondent that she couldn't help.
The lively girl who runs the Ecclesiastical Museum was far more helpful. 'Why don't you try the archives?'
I enjoyed a wander around her three rooms - jewelled hats, beautiful silver and gold religious objects, vestments, old books.
To cheer me up, she gave me her name and phone number. 'Phone me if you want to know anything at all.' I asked her where the church is that was built on the site of Saint Constantine's family home. She walked along the verandah and pointed wayyyyyyy up the steep hill behind the town. I put it on my mental list for my warrior-woman day.
I thought I had the most delicious broccoli soup with crisp croutons in a side bowl at a restaurant called Miato. But I actually ate it at PIATO. It means plate. Greek letters are so strange!
The accompanying glass of chilled white wine made me think I wouldn't go to the archives this afternoon. I'd simply wander around the town behind the harbour, enjoying the fresh air instead. I'll go back to the archives another day.
I started by taking a photo of one doorknob. Then I took another. It wasn't long before I was manically hunting them down. If you click the first one, it will bring up a bigger slide show.
Then I started on doors.
And the odd sour orange tree - I remembered the taxi driver's instructions and tried not to eat one.
I even captured a priest.
The pharmacy began trading in 1890 - closed for siesta I guess. I must come back.
I made it up to that church thingy and beyond. Only about a thousand steps. My apple watch nearly blew up. It said I climbed 30 flights of stairs. I think it underestimated. At least I wasn't feeling cold any longer.
This is a sanitised version of Hydra of course - like any town there are plenty of ordinary streets and ordinary houses and many many powerlines. But there are nice teeny tiny public gardens here and there.
The mustard coloured house just below me is the Kountouriotis mansion which opens to the public. But not today because it's the ................... (did you fill in the blank? yes, the off-season!) It's a pretty little town isn't it?
I cannot imagine anyone sitting on that saddle for more than 30 seconds. I think that's where the expression hard as a board comes from.
They're not big on growing flowers in Hydra. At least not on the street front. Those whistling winds would cut anything down. But here are your flowers for the day....