Cruising the Greek Islands Page 3
Peace of Mind
Part 3: We were enchanted, and we were charmed.
Story and Photos by Kim Kavin
We were more than filled as we docked to explore each island. First was Aegina, best known for its soft, salty pistachios. It houses the Temple of Aphaia on its acropolis. Built in the early fifth century B.C., the temple is well preserved. Even standing outside the ropes protecting it, I could easily discern the layout of its interior and ponder how it had been used in centuries past. I didn’t realize how precious this experience was until a few days later, while touring the Parthenon at the acropolis in Athens. The Temple of Aphaia is smaller in scale, but so is the number of tourists. The serenity of the place makes it much easier to appreciate than its scaffolding-marred sister on the mainland.
After leaving Aegina, we visited Poros, which has a picture-postcard harbor, and Spetses, a bustling resort destination. Both are full of spirit and lined with cafes and shops. Hydra is between them on the chart, but Oh Que Luna’s captain wisely saved it for the last stop of our trip. It is a finale worth waiting for.
Coming into Hydra harbor, I felt much as I do when arriving by boat in Portofino, Italy. The quay is a tapestry of color and sounds and smells. Tangles of small local boats are tied up amid sleek visiting motoryachts. Rows and rows of nicely dressed tables beg to be used as grandstands for anyone who wants to watch the parade of life go by.
No cars are allowed on the island, so mules, donkeys, and ponies are the main transportation. They carry people, supplies, even cement for houses being built in the mountains. They are taxicabs and pickup trucks with big, floppy ears. When a few are roped together, they almost look like freight trains.
We watched the entertaining scene from Oh Que Luna’s aft deck, waiting aboard with cold drinks until the day’s swarm of ferry passengers headed back to Athens. The tension left Hydra with the crowds, like air set free from a balloon. Once all was quiet and sunset was near, we jumped into the place with the energy of children who had found a new playground.
While we had seen visitors riding sidesaddle atop mules to the top of the island, we found our way up on foot. It’s not a climb for the weak of heart or sole, but the sloping alleyways and endless stone steps have a romance to them much like the old fortresses on the French Riviera. We got lost wandering to the summit, as invading forces used to while trying to track down Hydra’s residents. We smelled juicy fruit in the markets, alongside locals buying the night’s supper. We met a painter with thin gray hair and thick black glasses who signed his prints before rolling them delicately for us to take home.
After the red sun sank below the horizon, we climbed on tired, wobbly legs back down the dozens of flights of stone stairways to Oh Que Luna. We were hungry. We were thirsty. We were enchanted, and we were charmed.
And of course, we had well earned our third nap of the day.
Oh Que Luna charters for 38,500 euros (about $45,000 at presstime) per week, plus expenses, for eight guests.
Ann-Wallis White Charter Yacht Consultants Phone: (410) 263-6366.
This article originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.