My Adventures Touring Europe in 1982 (16) Hydra and Corinth
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Tuesday, July 13
After breakfast, we loaded up the bus, rode the short distance to the dock, and boarded the ferry boat. Just as we did when sailing the Danube River, Lakis parked the bus down below, and we went up on deck. Hydra, International Student Exchange’s own private Greek island, was a three hour cruise away.
I headed towards the front of the boat, where several local men and women were sitting, wearing shorts and t-shirts. But some guards came over and yelled at them in Greek (it didn’t sound the least bit like pleading!), and they moved away, so I decided it was best to avoid there. Though the guards didn’t carry batons, they reminded me of those in Hungary. Since Greece isn’t a Communist country, what was their problem?!
Eventually Hydra came into sight. It turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It was the way I had pictured Greece – a neat little village full of whitewashed houses. The bus drove a short distance on cobblestone streets, then we all got out and were assigned private homes in which to stay.
At the house where I was staying, the woman was charm itself. “Where would you like to sleep?” she asked me, showing me around.
“I’d like to sleep on the roof,” I told her. I was very intrigued by the flat topped roofs on all the houses; they reminded me of how children slept up there during the Bible days.
“Sorry, you can’t. Too many boys up there. But you can have any room you want; they’re for the girls.”
Shucks. There were other tour groups here, and apparently the guys had beaten us to the punch. However, she probably wouldn’t want the women exposed like that, anyway. I chose a room, moved in my luggage, then went to explore the town.
Hydra contains only one village, which you can walk through in less than half an hour. It was very clean, too! It has only one road, and no cars are allowed. The houses contain no hot water (that’s common in Greece; they figure the weather is hot enough that it’s not necessary). It has a tiny beach, and since ISE owns the island, we have free use of the boats.
After settling in their houses, a group of us met on the beach. “I’m going to take the catamaran out for a sail,” announced an American woman who was acting as local tour guide. “Anybody here not know how to swim?”
Believing she would supply me with a life jacket, I raised my hand.
“Then you cannot come with us.”
My disappointment was compounded when a local man laughed and made a mocking comment at me. What made it even worse was that I was left alone on the beach after everyone else boarded. The woman approached me privately. “You can at least dog paddle, can’t you?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Go ahead and get on. Just be careful.”
I shot the man a sneering look as I boarded.
We set sail over the warm and incredibly clear water. It turns out there are lots of tiny islands here, some uninhabited. A wealthy person can buy one, build a mansion on it, and live all alone there!
When we returned, we cleaned up and went to dinner at a local restaurant. It was really nice, almost as nice as The Plaka. They served us dolma (meat wrapped in grape leaves), and an alcoholic drink that tasted like black licorice. “It’s called Ouzo,” the waiter explained to me. “It’s unique to Greece.” I only had one; that drink packed a powerful punch!
Afterwards, we went into a dance hall full of people. A band was playing Greek music, and the others were dancing Greek style. I knew a little about that; you hook pinkies with people next to you and do fancy footwork. This dance also included smashing ceramic plates on the floor. Each of us was given one; any subsequent plates, we’d have to purchase ourselves.
The dancing was a bit too aggressive for me. I danced until my pinkies were sore, then smashed my plate. Afterwards, I danced solo for awhile. Gayla was having the time of her life; she swirled her pleated maxi skirt and smashed plate after plate. Shucks – I should have exchanged for more Drachmas, and brought them here! But the scene was great to watch.
This is the Greece I was looking forward to!
Wednesday, July 14
Our stay in Hydra is all too brief. We are heading back to Italy today. However, Gayla is the exception; since this is her favorite part of the tour, she’s going to stay an extra couple days, and fly to meet us in Rome.
“Sure you won’t leave our group like that guy did in Vienna?” I asked her.
“I just might! Then again, maybe I won’t leave here at all!” she answered.
“Well, if I don’t see you again, it’s been great having you as a roommate.”
“Thanks. It’s been great having you, too.”
After sailing back to the Greek Mainland, we rode the bus all day, passing through Corinth. We stopped there long enough to eat lunch and purchase souvenirs at a store; I bought some post cards. Since this is part of the Bible lands – there are even a couple books in there named after the town – I was hoping for a tour, but we didn’t have time. By the time we reached the boat dock, it was dark.
I could feel the flu coming on. I wondered if I may have inadvertently drunk some local water, for we needed to stick to bottled water in Greece as well as Italy. However, all I had was a sore throat, achy muscles and clogged sinuses; no indigestion.
This boat was a lot more luxurious than the last one. The rooms had only 2 beds each, with its own bathroom and shower. You also couldn’t feel it rock, so there was no concern with motion sickness. I roomed with Maybel, the other Chinese woman on the tour. It was the first time we spoke to each other; she turned out to be really nice.
Thursday, July 15
This morning, when we got off the boat, I felt fine. Apparently, it was just a short flu bug I got – thank goodness!
We spent the day riding to Sorrento. I don’t mind the long drives, but I hoped it wouldn’t make the others cranky again. I was relieved when we finally arrived, and checked into the hotel. Being late in the evening, we went straight to bed. I wound up rooming with Maybel again.
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© 2013 Yoleen Lucas