Hydra: food

After our big hike, it was more-than-time for lunch when we finally made it back to the town center. We quickly located a souvlaki restaurant that looked perfect for lunch.

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Souvlaki is a popular Greek fast food of sorts that involves meat on skewers or with pita. Generally, meat options are pork, lamb, or chicken. Essentially all of the restaurants on Hydra had large outdoor seating areas looking out on the water, and after ordering, we found a nice table outside to enjoy the breeze and wait for our food.

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I ordered lamb kebabs and Noah ordered a Greek beer and chicken souvlaki:

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Lunch tasted great, but we were both in a bit of a meat-induced coma afterwards.

Following lunch, we strolled around the island streets a bit more and had a good laugh when we discovered this sign:

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After much speculation about what sort of conference the mules and donkeys were headed to, we saw this sign later in the day:

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Turns out the meeting was for mule and donkey owners to discuss problems facing their “traditional profession.” Maybe it had something to do with another poster we saw which seemed to be from some animal rights group protesting the treatment of mules and donkeys! I guess even the cutest of islands has their own crazy politics. 🙂

Besides learning about the mule and donkey drama of Hydra, we did some boat watching around the port:

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There were a couple ENORMOUS private yachts in the port…our guide book mentioned that celebrities often visit Hydra, so we had a good time guessing who might be inside!

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Eventually, it was time for a pick-me-up, so we found another cafe where we could relax and drink coffee as the sun set:

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For dinner Saturday night, we went to Psaropoula, a restaurant recommended by our guide book.

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The restaurant was near the water in the main town area, but it was unique because it wasn’t on street level. Getting to the restaurant required going up a flight of stairs to the rooftop level, and we sat outside on a rooftop balcony with great views out to the water:

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Like dinner the night before, we decided to order a few dishes and share. We ordered Greek salad again, eggplant rolls stuffed with halloumi cheese, and a feta cheese dish that consisted of feta wrapped in filo dough and drizzled with honey and sesame seeds:

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The meal also came with a bread basket, croutons, and dip:

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Yum!

Sunday morning we had our last eats on Hydra. Breakfast was from the Mistral Hotel again, and it was even more delicious than the first day’s breakfast. This time around, there was tomato soup followed by fruit, coffee, tea, bread, jam, olives, tomatoes, bruschetta, rice pudding, a sweet-cream filled danish, frittata, and a vegetable omelette.

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After making a pretty good dent in the breakfast food, we gathered our things and headed to catch a ferry back to Piraeus Port. Stay tuned for more about the Athens segment of the trip coming soon! 🙂

Other Greece posts

1. Getting There
2. Hydra: arrival and Mistral Hotel
3. Hydra: exploring

Hydra: exploring

On Saturday morning we woke up bright and early to greet our first full day in Hydra! Arriving after dark the night before, we were eager to see what the town looked like in the daylight and enjoy some of the beautiful views we read were so ubiquitous on the island.

Before heading out, we fueled up on the amazing breakfast offered by Mistral Hotel. The breakfast is included for all guests and was home-cooked and served each morning. Breakfast was served in the outdoor courtyard, and we received quite a spread.

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As soon, as we were seated we were brought small glasses of pea soup, shortly followed by bread, fruit, coffee, juice, cereal, breakfast pudding, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes/cheese, sweet bread, a noodle/cheese bake, and cheese sandwiches:

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WOW! We did not come anywhere close to finishing all the food. Once fully sated, we headed out to get a better look around Hydra:

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No cars are allowed on Hydra, so everything is very close and walkable. The walkways are primarily cobblestone and the houses are almost all white stucco with ceramic roof tiles:

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Because cars aren’t allowed, mules and donkeys are used to transport supplies, and we saw lots of food loaded onto flat crates and placed on wheels for transport:

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The town center is the port where there seemed to be a constant flow of business and pleasure boats and ferries, and the dock was lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes:

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The water was amazingly clear:

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After checking out the town center and marveling at how adorable the island was, we got started on our primary activity for the day: a hike up Mt. Eros. Before the trip, Noah looked up some information about hiking during the vacation, and we thought this would be the perfect activity to fill a day on an island. The information Noah found said that hiking Mt. Eros would lead to a gorgeous view of all of Hydra (and more!). The trail would also bring us past two monasteries.

Excited and sunscreened…ready to make the climb:

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The first part of the hike was through cobblestoned neighborhoods, but after awhile it transitioned to forested and rocky trails:

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Higher and higher…

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After about two hours of climbing, we finally reached the top.

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Holy cow – the views were AMAZING!

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There was even a bell at the top to ring. 🙂

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Other Greece posts

Getting There
Hydra: arrival and Mistral Hotel

 

 

Hydra: arrival and Mistral Hotel

After an eventful travel day, we were excited to finally arrive to Hydra! We stayed at Mistral Hotel, which we found through trip advisor, and it was a great find! *Most of these pictures of the outside of the hotel (below) are from the morning after our original arrival, hence why it is light outside. 

The hotel was just over a 5 minute walk from the port area, tucked cutely behind a courtyard.

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The outdoor courtyard had some cozy seating areas and was used for breakfast (homemade and served by the innkeeper each morning):

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Inside, there was a small lounge area with additional seating and a welcome desk.

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The hallways were decorated with Greece-themed art:

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And the room was clean and comfortable. Our room had a nice view looking down onto the garden!

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The night of our arrival, by the time we unloaded all our stuff at the hotel, it was past 9:00 and we still needed dinner. We made our way to a nearby taverna recommended by the innkeeper.

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Tavernas are a popular sort of eatery in Greece, and guests seem to generally share salads, mezes, wine, and an entree or two. We were excited to try some of the Greek cuisine, so we may have been a bit overzealous when ordering.

From the salad/mezes part of the menu, we ordered a greek salad (normally I don’t love Greek salad because I typically don’t like feta cheese, but the feta in Greece tasted great!!), fried cheese (we think it was halloumi), and zucchini balls. Some bread with olive oil also came with the food:

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For entrees, we shared fish and eggplant imam which is roasted eggplant, onions, tomato, and cheese:

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Everything was delicious! We knew the fish was super fresh too because we selected it ourselves from an ice display outside the restaurant:

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We weren’t quite sure how to debone it, but I think we managed pretty well. 🙂

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To drink, we shared a small bottle of the house white wine:

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During the meal, a fellow group of diners started playing music and singing, and we enjoyed listening to the music and seeing the group have so much fun:

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Prior to arriving to Greece, Noah and I read in the guide book that there a lot of stray cats in Greece (like in Israel). Unlike in Israel, however, the Greece cats like to cozy up to people and often go right next to cafe tables and shops. The book said that it can be hard to resist giving the cats food but that it’s important to restrain the temptation because restaurant owners don’t like it if their guests end up feeding the cats. We didn’t know what was so hard to resist about feeding the cats until this fellow showed up next to Noah and looked at him like this…

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…the whole meal! 

Nonetheless, the meal was great and we had a really fun evening. When we finished, the waiter brought us a small free dessert as well (some sort of cinnamon pudding maybe?).

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Other Greece posts:

1. Getting There

 

 

Getting there is half the fun

During Sukkot hol hamoed (the intermediate days of the holiday), Noah and I took a four-night, five-day vacation to Greece! Being in Israel, there are so many amazing countries only a short distance away – and getting there is a whole lot cheaper than it would be from the USA! I had a break from classes for the Sukkot holiday, so a couple months ago we started talking about planning a trip to take advantage of our geographical location. Greece became the destination because we hadn’t been there before (technically I went in junior high, but I didn’t really remember anything) and there were good options for both city exploration and island relaxation. We left last Friday bright and early. The sherut (shared taxi) picked us up for the airport at 3:40am! Of course…we ended up not packing until the night before.

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Okapi-i got some sleep even when we couldn’t:

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When we made it through security (always an ordeal at the Tel Aviv airport), there was some time to walk around and explore before our flight.

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There’s something so lovely about kosher burger joints and an Aroma over the standard airport food!

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We had a layover in the Istanbul airport for about 4 hours. As soon as we got off the plane in Istanbul, we saw that we were in an ENORMOUS internationals terminal.

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There were American-brand stores everywhere:

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And massive duty free shops selling everything in supersize:

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Noah and I had a lot of fun looking at all the goofy stuff at duty free, such as this Angry Birds perfume pack…

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…and the sample shots of whiskey (at 10am??):

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After sufficient exploration, we settled comfortably down with Starbucks and looked at our Athens guidebook until it was time for the flight:

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When we arrived in Athens after another quick 90 minute flight, we immediately were on our way to Piraeus Port to catch a ferry to the small island, Hydra. While in Greece, Noah and I wanted to spend a couple days in Athens seeing the big sites and a couple days on an island chillaxingAt first, we were looking at some of the larger and more iconic islands – like Santorini – but quickly decided that it would be better to go somewhere nearer to Athens to reduce the amount of time we needed to spend on a ferry. Plus, there are no shortage of amazing islands in Greece, so we didn’t feel like we were missing out at all! We settled on Hydra because it was supposed to be beautiful and we were attracted to the fact that it is a no-car island.

It took about an hour by public bus to get from the Athens airport to Piraeus (we passed an Ikea!):

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After getting to the port, there was some extra time to walk around and check out all of the super-sized boats:

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We were also lucky to be there just as the sun was setting:

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Our boat was a high-speed hydrofoil ferry that was a lot smaller than some of the monsters around the dock but still seated around 100 people.

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Noah and I were seated in the very front of the ferry and it sure was bumpy! Our seats seemed to be right over the foil lifts, and it led to an extremely crazy ride. I felt a little nauseous at the beginning, but luckily the feeling lessened slightly as we got further into the ride (the transport time was about 2 hours). About halfway through journey, we had some terror excitement. Out of nowhere, we heard an explosion and smoke started to fill the boat! Some of the Greek men sitting near us jumped up and were congregating in the center area of the ferry. Needless to say, Noah and I were totally freaked out and readying ourselves to make a quick escape from the boat and swim to shore. As we were frantically looking around, we saw what appeared to be a fireball outside the window next to the ferry. AHH! Eventually our panic started to subside a bit when we noticed no one else was jumping out of the boat or making tearful last phone calls to friends and family, but we still had no idea what was going on. 

Eventually, some of the people near us returned to their seats, and they must have noticed we looked totally freaked out because they explained that a flare had fallen off the wall and gone off inside the ferry which caused the explosion sound and smoke. The flare had then been held outside to prevent more smoke from getting into the ferry (this was the fireball). Luckily, we were able to see the humor in the situation at this point…

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but it was seriously freaky when we thought we were going to have to jump out of the boat and swim to safety!!