Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Baklava Babymoon: The Relaxing Island of Hydra

After all the sightseeing that Laure and I had done so far in Greece, we headed off to a quaint little island named Hydra for two nights of R&R. We drove as far south as we could and boarded a small boat for the short ride to the town of Hydra.
Hydra's port.

Hydra is a fairly low key island that is completely car free with many little cobblestone alleys to explore. We had decided to come here and enjoy the relatively slow pace rhythm of a small island before visiting one of the more popular ones that would surely be packed with tourists.
Donkeys are the only mode of transportation on the island besides walking.
You can spot donkeys carrying furniture.
We stayed at Hotel Sophia, which overlooks the port and promenade.
The island was filled with blooming spring flowers.
We also went out on a little hike along the coast.

The quietness of the island turned out to be a two sided coin. On on side, it was great to explore this romantic little town without throngs of people. On the other side, we sometimes felt like we were walking in a ghost town especially since we went early in the spring and the island depends heavily on tourism. This lonesome serenity was especially strong at night.
Hydra sleeps.
Aimless wandering.
Our main company at night were the island cats.
Every now and then, we would come across a cute lively courtyard restaurant.

The specialty meal on the Greek islands is unsurprisingly fish. The standard procedure is to go with the waiter to choose from a selection of fish on display. The waiter helps by describing the variety of fish and the recommended methods of cooking them. At the end of the meal, you pay by the weight.

Laure went to Greece really excited about eating lots of fish. Even though I'm not a fish connoisseur, I was able to definitely taste that we were eating great fish. Unfortunately, Laure's pregnancy really screwed with her taste buds and she was really bummed out that all the fish she ate tasted bland!
Eating outdoors in the Greek islands is a must.
Selecting our lunch.
This cute kitty tried charming us for some fish.
Locals like cats because they keep the rat population down. You hear that, NYC?

We also came across a pretty good Italian style gelataria, The Cool Mule. To our pleasant surprise, we found good gelatarias not only in Hydra but also in subsequent islands that we visited. Who would have guessed that Greek islanders have mastered this Italian art form?
Ciao, bella!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Baklava Babymoon: off the beaten path

After checking out some of the famous highlights, we decided to check out some of the less popular spots during our Baklava Babymoon.


We drove to Mycenae, which was the center of Greek civilization during the aptly named Mycenaean period between 1600 and 1100 BC. The Mycenaeans were a people of aggressive warriors that conquered a lot of the surrounding region. Some believe they were one of the key players in the mythical Trojan Wars.
The Lion Gate is the most impressive structure that survived from the Mycenaen period.

Apart from the Lion Gate, a lot of Mycenae has unfortunately crumbled over the last 3,000 years. So I consider it as one of those places that you need to mentally visualize its former grandeur to really appreciate it.

There was also a nice museum at the site with artifacts from the civilization.


Next on our trip was the former Greek capital Nafplio. While planning our trip, we had decided pass there simply because it was between places we wanted to see. But then Nafplio really surprised us. It felt like a much sanitized and scaled down version of Cairo, which made it more approachable and relaxing.
We stayed at an awesome place named Pension Marianna overlooking the city.
The room looked like it was out of a castle.
Nafplio has many interesting places like this good chocolate shop we stumbled upon.

Shortly after arriving in Nafplio, we realized we should have probably planned to spend at least one full day there to leisurely check out all the interesting shops and the good restaurants.

Epidaurus Ancient Theater

Next, we checked out the Epidaurus Ancient Theater, where artists have performed plays and music since ancient times until now at this outdoor auditorium.

The acoustics are so good that everyone can hear the person in the center.
For a crazy second, I considered reciting a Shakespearean monologue.
My wife and my then-unborn child.
There's also a museum with some ancient stuff.

After all that sightseeing, we were ready to relax and see what the legendary Greek islands are all about. That's coming next.