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  • Shelley Dark

#16 Last day on Hydra

The forecast said the rain would stop today by 10am. It did. A strong wind blew it away. I called in to say hello as I went past the archives to exchange emails with Eleni. She said she'll contact me if she finds anything. 

Then I set off for Mandraki Bay. 

It's east of the port, and was the docking place for Hydra’s navy during the 1821 Revolution. Two small forts were constructed on either headland to defend the fleet against unexpected attacks.

All along the coastline, there are steps zigzagging down to the edge, with concrete aprons at the waterline. I can imagine laughter floating up here in the summer.

Hydra's wild flowers are spectacular in the spring, so they say. I'd like to see them.

Isn't this the most extraordinary church, built right on the water's edge in a tiny inlet?

Such a pretty inlet.

The bay is quite wide at its mouth , the barren hills are not so high around it. It would not be as easily defended as Hydra harbour. Can you see the remnant fortifications on the other headland?

There's very little left at Mandraki - just the taverna built on the site of the old dockyard, closed of course, and bathing boxes. I had other plans, so I turned back. 

I'd noticed a set of steep concrete steps leading up the rocky hill from the main road, with a sign indicating it was a hikers' path. Over the top of the rocky hill. A back way to Hydra. I remembered seeing this hiking route online. It was meant for me, wasn't it?

As I climbed about a hundred stone steps, I noticed the hikers' mark on a stone seat. So far so good. I took off my down jacket and tied it around my waist.

Once I'd climbed the steps it was a rough bush track through the gorse, water trickling down the slope after last night's rain. Parts were quite wet. I seemed to be going left, away from Hydra, not towards it. I kept looking up to make sure the crest was getting closer! I was just hoping that I wouldn't be faced with another one!

At the top I looked back at the ocean. I'd reached a road! Now the wind was cold and blowing really strongly. Enough to blow my hat off. I put my jacket back on.

To my left was the Agios Triados, the Holy Trinity Monastery. I thought the Profitis Ilias was supposed to be the only man's monastery. Another mystery.

I knew I was still about two and half kilometres from Hydra, so I turned right.

The good road soon petered out - it had obviously come from behind me through Mandraki.  I hoped the trail wasn't going to peter out totally. The thought of going back didn't appeal. I went on.

The reward? This gorgeous little church. Big enough for one. The gate was on a clip which I undid easily.

How beautiful is the small mosaic above the door, under the cross.

Closer. Those delicate colours.

I was taking a photo of a prolifically flowering rosemary bush in the church grounds when this butterfly suddenly landed in front of me. 

Two people are buried here. I wonder who they were.

Refreshed by the short stop, I walked on - that's the Profitis Ilias on the far mountain. 

We're on the other side of the valley. Isn't it so pretty? Plus we were getting back near civilisation! Yayyyy!

Ahhhh there it is! With a nice stone wall on the cliff side. Did I tell you I sometimes get vertigo? I steeled myself.

Closer. It was enough to take my breath away. Literally.  The wind was so strong it pushed me backwards.

The rock wall disappeared. The path was rougher and narrower. It disappeared around a bend, with a sheer drop below. I was suddenly aware I was right on top of the town, quite close, and somehow, the path had to descend to it.

I put my head down and watched my feet, stepping carefully, one foot after another. It worked. Occasionally, when I could sit down, I looked out. I finally reached the bottom.