Next stop... The island of Hydra.
If you're planning a trip to Greece, make sure to put it on your itinerary. Only an hour and a half from Athens by hydrafoil but a million dreams away.
This place may very well be Greece's little secret. One moment you feel like you've stepped back in time and the next moment you could think you're in Carmel or the Hamptons.
Joe and I are thanking our good friends, Emmanuel and Tracy, who told us not to miss this place. They come here often staying at the elegant little hotel, Porta del Mare, in a quaint alley just a few short steps from where the ferry drops you in the port.
Petros (photo above) owns Porta del Mare along with a few stores and I'm sure countless other ventures. As soon as we met him, we had an instant friend who gave us the names of the best tavernas, told us not to take the expensive red water taxis, which beaches were best, and pointed us towards his favorite store for fruit and yogurt. You can't miss Petros, look for the red door right on the harbour. It says Peter's over the door. He'll either be inside the store or at the cafe next door.
The port is a hub of activity 27/7 where cafe after cafe rim the edge. People-watching is a favorite pastime and the locals view it as kind of a sport right up there with swimming and hiking the beautiful mountain trails.
Order a coffee at Sinialo or Isalos and sit for hours watching the yachts tie up and the ferries delivering the "three islands-in-a-day" trippers. Just a little FYI, we think the whipped ice coffee at Isalos is miles ahead of anyone else.
But I haven't even mentioned the very best part of Hydra.... There aren't any cars or scooters, only mule. No joke! And those mules come in handy for getting luggage to your hotel over the rough cobblestones or taking you by horseback over the mountain.
The first day when we arrived by ferry, there was a flurry of activity at the port. There weren't enough mules and the scene wasn't that different than fighting for a taxi in NYC.
Did I mention the food yet? The freshest fish is caught in the clean very salty waters off the coast of Hydra. Make sure you order some tarama. If you're lucky, it's made from fresh roe. We had the best stuffed tomatoes and peppers at Barba Dimas Taverna and exquisite grilled octopus and large calamari in the little village of Kaminia at Taverna Kodylenia just over the hill from the port.
It's difficult to imagine a place more picturesque, romantic, and sensuous in the Mediterranean. If Greece (or the Mediterranean) is on your itinerary, be sure to set at least a few days aside for Hydra. And did I mention it is the perfect place to spend your honeymoon?!!