Sunday, July 3, 2011

Touring Athens and visiting the island of Hydra...

Hello friends,
My host in Athens took the day off and we set off on a full day's journey.  We drove 400 kilometers (248 miles) and visited several sites and cities near Athens.  At the end of the night, he wanted to keep it going so we hopped on a sea-taxi to the island of Hydra.  One of the best things about CouchSurfing is that I have the opportunity to see things through the eyes of the locals.  I would not have gone to these places that day if it weren't for my gracious and generous host, Constantinos.  He took care of me from beginning to end and wanted to show me not only the tourist spots but also the places off the beaten path.  Thank you Constantinos!  Ela re!
We wanted to take a ferry from Piraeus (Port of Athens) to Hydra.  This takes about 3 hours but everything was sold out.  It was  great that this was the case because it gaves us a chance to drive through Athens by car and see all of the surrounding cities.  Since the ferry was not available, we drove 200 miles outside of Athens and took a smaller boat across to Hydra in 12 minutes.  Flexibility and spontaneity has enabled me to go to places that were not in my itinerary but were often a wonderful surprise.  Sometimes instead of being disappointed, you just have to go with it and be open.  I guess you can say the same about life.  Don't always try to resist things when what you plan doesn't happen.  Sometimes the best things in life that have happened to me were because they weren't planned.  It was just a detour on my journey of life.  

Constantinos drove about 1 1/2 hours and had me walk across a bridge.  I was just strolling past and looked to my left and my jaw dropped! The water was even bluer than this picture.  What a breathtaking view!!  This is a man-made canal!
Corinth Canal

 This canal connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea.  It separates the Peloponnesian Peninsula with the Greek Mainland.  This man-made canal was dug through the Corinth at sea level during 1881-1893.  The canal extends for 6.3 kilometers (3.9 miles).

The canal is 8 meters deep (26 feet) and at the maximum,  52 metres high.  This was a technological wonder of it's time.  Because of this canal, it saved the smaller ships a 430 mile( 700 kilometers) journey around the island because it cuts right through but the larger freighter boats cannot enter.  The width of the canal is only 79 feet wide.  

Don't fall!

Constantinos took me to one of his most favorite places.  This is the ancient theater of Epidauraus.

The seating capacity at the maximum is between 13,000-17,000.
We walked to the very top of the theater and there was a demonstration from the bottom center of the theater.  A man dropped a euro on the ground and started to crumple a piece of paper.  The acoustics are so clear in this place that you don't need a microphone.  I could hear the euro fall to the ground all the way from the top of the theater with such clarity.  

The limestone seats filter out low frequency sounds such as the murmur of the crowds but amplify/reflect high frequency sounds from the center of the stage.  

A weed is but an unloved flower.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox 

I see you!

We set off in the car again and drove along the water up the mountainside.  

The island of Poros across the water.  Poros Island is situated in the Saronic Gulf close to the Peloponnesian mainland. 

It was 7PM and my host still wanted me to see the beautiful island of Hydra.  We set off on a water taxi  at sunset to visit Hydra only 12 minutes away.  I didn't think we were still going to go because when we get back, Constantinos would still have to drive 200 kilometers back home.  We went anyway!  It was sooooo worth it.  

The lovely island of Hydra

The island of Hydra is quite special.  There are no cars or motorcycles allowed on this island.  The only motor transport on this island are garbage trucks.  Donkeys, bicycles and water taxis are the only means of transportation.  The inhabited side of the island is so compact that you can walk everywhere.  

More hills and stairs to work off all of the delicious food I have been eating!

For some reason, there was an abundance of stray cats all over the island.  For every dog, there were about 20 stray cats meandering about the island.  Many of them looked dirty, skinn, malnourished or beat up from the other cats fighting with them.  

The cobblestone streets of Hydra at night

It was sooooo hot that day! 

"The journey not the arrival matters."  T.S. Elliot 

So romantic at sunset!

Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.  ~Henry Van Dyke

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

1 comment:

  1. ela re Geralyn!

    here's the text that I told you:


    As you set out for Ithaka
    hope the voyage is a long one,
    full of adventure, full of discovery.
    Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
    angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
    you’ll never find things like that on your way
    as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
    as long as a rare excitement
    stirs your spirit and your body.
    Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
    wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
    unless you bring them along inside your soul,
    unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

    Hope the voyage is a long one.
    May there be many a summer morning when,
    with what pleasure, what joy,
    you come into harbors seen for the first time;
    may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
    to buy fine things,
    mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
    sensual perfume of every kind—
    as many sensual perfumes as you can;
    and may you visit many Egyptian cities
    to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

    Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
    Arriving there is what you are destined for.
    But do not hurry the journey at all.
    Better if it lasts for years,
    so you are old by the time you reach the island,
    wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
    not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

    Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
    Without her you would not have set out.
    She has nothing left to give you now.

    And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
    Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
    you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

    Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

    (C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)