Hydra: Night, Morning, Mansion, Home & Studio, and Walk

Today I visited a mansion and a home/studio and took a pleasurable walk. But first, a discussion of last night and this morning.

Night and Morning

Hydra is quiet at night. By quiet, I refer to the overall noise level, not a lack of wild and crazy people up all hours of the night. Although, that too. I haven’t seen any wild and crazy people here at all, night or day.

As to whether the not-wild-or-crazy people were up all hours of the night, how would I know? I was asleep. If they were up, they stayed quiet enough to not wake me. Then again, my hotel is away from the small main hub of Hydra, so that might have been it.

The quiet was beneficial for sleep. The lack of cars and motor scooters can claim much of the credit for the quietude. Technology is fantastic, except when it’s not, he wrote on one of the three electronic devices—iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air—he takes on his journeys. Hey, I wouldn’t want to leave any of them behind. They might be offended. Then all technology would turn against me even more than it already is. Our devices talk to each other and plot against us. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The quiet didn’t last. At six a.m., church bells pealed a repeating two-note clanging for what seemed like at least a full minute, followed by a counting of the hour. That recurred with several hourly ringings of varying durations. There was also shorter intermediate clanging between the hourly din. That was probably at quarter hours, but I didn’t check my watch.

As of, I think, 11:00, the hourly bells only counted out the hour, without a period of continuous pealing. I guess they figured that, if they hadn’t yet woken everyone, it wasn’t going to happen. Either that or people missed church services by then, so what was the point of ringing annoying church bells after that? There was, after all, no more religious business to be had for the rest of the day. Both of those are only conjectures on my part. There may be a different explanation.

Inexplicably, a couple of the “hourly” tolling sessions occurred at five minutes before the hour. I don’t know why. I think they were messing with me for being so time-obsessed.

Breakfast

The hotel I’m at includes breakfast with the price of the room. They serve it as a buffet on a charming patio with beautiful flowering and non-flowering bushes. At breakfast, one of the other guests commented about the church bells. They had been here for a few days already, but hadn’t heard them before. Today is Sunday. That may have something to do with it.

While I ate breakfast, a rooster crowed for a while. This brought a thought to mind. I’m sure a great many other people thought it before I did. Why do roosters crow, but crows caw? Shouldn’t crows crow and roosters, well, something else? Maybe roosters could caw since that word will no longer be taken once crows start to crow. Yes, I do have a lot of nonsensical, completely worthless thoughts. Why do you ask?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the hotel does not start serving breakfast until 8:30 in the morning. Upon learning this, it immediately struck me that a very good friend of mine, you know who you are, would be appalled by such a late start. At the same time, his wife, you too know who you are, and also a very good friend of mine, might miss breakfast because its 11:00 a.m. finish is too early. Life is never easy.

Huh. I just remembered that another very good friend who is a regular reader is an early riser and might have been thrown when getting to the “his wife” part above. Sorry it took me a moment to remember that about you.

Lazaros Koundouriotis Historical Mansion

Art at the Lazaros Koundouriotis Historical Mansion
Art at the Lazaros Koundouriotis Historical Mansion

At one time, the merchant marine activity here made for some rich Hydriots. (I didn’t make that name up. One of my guidebooks told me that’s what people from Hydra are called.) As a result of those old rich Hydriots, there are some old mansions here. One is open to the public, the Lazaros Koundouriotis Historical Mansion. I visited it.

Today, the mansion includes rooms with furniture that various generations of the Koundouriotis family had. But that’s not all.

I think at least half the rooms are an art gallery. Included in the collection was a room with pictures of people dressed in period festive costumes. Other rooms contained photographs of Hydra by a photographer named Robert McCabe and paintings by an artist named Periklis Byzantios. (I used the past tense in the preceding sentences because I don’t know if those collections are permanent or temporary exhibitions.)

A loom at the mansion
A loom at the mansion

In addition to the paintings of people in period festive costumes, the mansion also contains displays of actual period festive costumes without people inside them. And, for some reason, there’s a loom. (There might have been an explanation as to why it’s there. But, if so, I missed the relevant placard.)

The museum is difficult to navigate. At least, it was for me. Then again, as I said in a post about a visit to the National Gallery in London some time ago, I can get lost in a single empty, square room if it has more than one door. The Lazaros Koundouriotis Historical Mansion has more than one room. And the rooms aren’t empty.

Festive costumes at the mansion
Festive costumes at the mansion

When I bought my ticket, the very friendly and very helpful ticket seller told me something to the effect of, “First, go into this room. Then, go into that room. Next, come back here, go through that door, down the stairs and turn such and such a way. Finally, come back here and I’ll show you how to go upstairs.” That obviously isn’t quite what she said, but only because I had long since forgotten the verbatim conversation by the time of writing.

It’s not surprising that I forgot before I came to write this. I thought I’d forget the first set of instructions, i.e., the the part before coming back to get further instructions on how to go upstairs, even before I’d finished with the lower two levels. I told the ticket seller that. She told me not to worry because she was there to help. Good thing she was. She had to help me a couple times before I got to the upper level. Like I said, she was very friendly and helpful.

Tetsis Home & Studio (Not a mansion)

Tetsis residence
Tetsis residence

A painter, Panagiotis Tetsis, who was born in Hydra Island, lived there for some time, and died in Athens in 2016 donated his grandparents’ home in the town of Hydra to the to the Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece. It’s now a small museum. I visited it today.

The home is very close to the Lazaro Koundouriotis Historical Mansion. Admission to the mansion includes admission to the Tetsis Home & Studio. Surprisingly, I didn’t need any help in navigating through the home and studio. It’s smaller and less complicated than the Koundouriotis mansion. All I needed was the instruction that the residence is downstairs and the studio upstairs.

The Tetsis studio
The Tetsis studio

From the 1980s, Panagiotis Tetsis used the home to work in when he was in Hydra, hence, the upstairs studio.

Today, the downstairs contains furnishings that I think (although I’m not sure) were his furnishings when he was there and maybe some of his grandparents’ furnishings. Upstairs, in addition to his studio, there’s also a room with a couple of single beds in it.

The studio contains artist’s materials. And a few of his paintings hang on the walls.

Walk to Kaminia and Vlychos

A view on my outbound walk
A view on my outbound walk

After visiting the Koundouriotis mansion and the Tetsis home and studio in the morning, I took a recommended scenic walk along the coast to the Kaminia and Vlychos. I followed a more inland, higher, and also recommended route on the return trip.

The walks there and back would not have been terribly long (about 40 minutes each way according to Google Maps) had it not been for the many leisurely stops I took. As a result of those stops, the walk consumed by far the better part of the afternoon. And the afternoon was made even much better yet for it.

Vista points, many with benches punctuated (exclamation marks, mainly) the outbound walk along the coast. I used some of the benches to pause, gaze at the sea and the surrounding scenery, and contemplate the ultimate riddle of the universe.

After tremendous reflection and contemplation, and an occasional epiphany, the answer became blindingly clear. I knew with absolute certainty that the late Douglas Adams was right. The answer to the ultimate question of the universe is indeed 42. Don’t panic.

Leonard Cohen Memorial

Leonard Cohen memorial
Leonard Cohen memorial

On my walk, I came across a stone bench with a memorial plaque. The plaque said the bench was dedicated to Leonard Cohen, the late [Canadian] poet, novelist, song-writer, and song-speaker. (Some call it singing, but I don’t intend “song-speaker” as a criticism. It’s just my description of Leonard Cohen’s usually enjoyable predominant singing style. Others may disagree on both the usually enjoyable and song-speaking points.)

FLeonard Cohen had a home somewhere inland from the memorial bench. He did some song-writing there and probably other things.

The presence of Leonard Cohen’s home and memorial bench on the island of Hydra just goes to show that you can take the Canadian out of Canada, but you can’t take Canada out of the Canadian. That’s probably an overgeneralization. I’m speaking of me here. I felt the tug of the plaque. I have no idea of how Cohen felt about Canada while he lived on Hydra Island.

Kaminia

Kaminia is a picturesque fishing village. I was about to say it has a small port, but “fishing village” probably implies that. What’s a fishing village without a port? It’s almost certainly a non-fishing village. And if it had a large port it would almost certainly be classified as something larger than a village.

So, please, I beg of you, forget I considered mentioning the fishing village’s small port. You probably already think I’m a cretin. I don’t want to reinforce that view.

Lunch in Kaminia
The view from my table at lunch
The view from my table at lunch

I had lunch at a charming restaurant above the small port I asked you to forget I considered mentioning above. Unlike the restaurant I was at for lunch yesterday, this one was close to and overlooking the small port and the sea beyond, but not overhanging them. (Sigh of relief.)

The starter-size (big enough for a meal) Greek salad, grilled calamari, and glass of wine that I ate and drank leisurely were very good. The view from my table was spectacular.

Sign in front of the restaurant
Sign in front of the restaurant

It reminded me of something I tend to forget: Life can be enjoyed sometimes, occasionally greatly. That having been said, I’m conscious of and feel a little guilty about the fact that I’m able to enjoy life in the manner I did today, while so many others can’t afford to do so.

I’d like to share my good fortune with those who can’t afford it. I won’t because then I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I’m not that selfless and generous. Not even close. Truth is, I’d like even more to be able to continue to enjoy it myself. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

That notwithstanding, the hand-written chalkboard message, written exclusively in English, at the entrance to the restaurant was apropos. “It is not bad to feel good!!!” Preach it! Although, me being me, I’ll almost certainly soon forget that philosophy.

Vlychos

Vlychos is another village that hugs the sea. Its claim to fame seems to be its pebble beach at the far end of the village. The far end if you’re coming from the town of Hydra, as I did. The near end if you’re coming from further along the island. Further along the island if, well, you know.

Vlychos' Plakes Beach
Vlychos’ Plakes Beach

A hotel sits just behind the beach. Its bar and accompanying beach lounge chairs spread out onto the beach. The hotel’s name is FourSeasonsHydra. That’s the way it’s spelled on the sign out front. I.e., without any spaces. I found its website. That’s also the spelling in the word-mark there.

I’m guessing they omit the spaces to try to avoid the possibility of a trademark infringement lawsuit from the Four Seasons Hotel chain. Although, its website includes some instances with spaces between the words. So, good luck to them.

I didn’t see a port in Vlychos. There are at least a couple of isolated short piers in the village which I didn’t take a long walk off of, but no port unless it was below the point where the path through the village rises above and behind the shore.

The lack of a port places Vlychos in the non-fishing class in the binary village taxonomy I provided above.

The Return

The road back
The road back

As I said, I came back via a higher country inland route. (I would have said “high country” rather than “higher country,” but that likely would have exaggerated the climb in your mind. It wasn’t bad.)

The scenery on the way back lacked water features except for one gap in the hills as I approached the town of Hydra. There, I got a view of the sea from on high. Or on higher, if you will.

Despite the dearth of seascape views, the scenery is beautifully rugged and ruggedly beautiful.

A glimpse of the sea near the town of Hydra on the way back
A glimpse of the sea near the town of Hydra on the way back

The best word I can come up with to describe the vegetation is “scrubland.” Although, as I type that word, I realize that I’m far from an expert on scrub vegetation. So I could be wrong in that description.

Scrub or not, there is not a lot of it. A few clumps of trees and bushes here and there. However, there was enough vegetation that a few horses grazed in some fenced in areas.

A two-unit caravan of the Hydra Island transport system
A two-unit caravan of the Hydra Island transport system

On the way back, I encountered a few small caravans—one four-unit caravan and a few two-unit caravans—of the Hydra Island transport system along with a couple of solo units of the transport system. (“Transport system” is my flippant name for it. I don’t think it is a system. I think the owners are independent contractors. But I’m not sure.)

All of my donkey encounters today were close to or in the town of Hydra. And I only encountered them on the route back. I didn’t see any on my way out. Nevertheless, on both routes I saw considerable seemingly freshly deposited evidence that quite a few others had been on the roads.

P.S.

I had a lovely dinner tonight—mushrooms appetizer and sea bass main course. The restaurant is on a patio in the upper part of Hydra. My table gave me a great view of the lights of the town of Hydra, including some of the lights shimmering on the cove the port is in.

The entrance to the restaurant is almost at the top of a long flight of stairs. The road my hotel is on is at the top of that staircase. The staircase is very close to my hotel. Sounds, like an easy walk, right? Wrong.

While I’ve been here, the very top of that staircase, just a little above the entrance to the restaurant has been closed for construction. So, to get to the restaurant, I had to walk down another long flight of stairs and up the staircase the restaurant is on.

The restaurant is one of the ones I tried and failed to go to for lunch on the first day, so I already knew this. But, as a friend of mine would no doubt say in a similar situation, my mazel!

When the waitress brought my check after dinner she started some small talk by asking if I was traveling alone. The rest of the conversation went something like this:

Me: “Yes.”

Waitress: “I’m so envious. You can do whatever you like.”

M: “Yes. That’s why I enjoy traveling alone.”

W: “Is this your first time in Hydra?”

M: “Yes. In fact, it’s my first time in Greece.”

W: “How do you like Hydra?

M: “I love it. I’m only here for two nights and this is the last one. I wish it was more.”

W: “You’ll have to come back. But this is our last night open. We close for the season tomorrow and don’t open again until March.”

M: “So I came just in time.”

W: “Where are you from?”

M: “Canada.”

I forget whether she or I mentioned Leonard Cohen after I said I lived in Canada, but she told me that his family still lives in his house here and comes into the restaurant sometimes. So, Leonard Cohen’s living legacy lives on in Hydra.

Tags:
6 Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *