Hey guys, it’s me again, your friend the worst. You may remember me from my recent gripping and provocative piece on learning to love Paris. After I made my peace with the French (with the exception of the waitress at that cafe who told me there was no more breakfast and then proceeded to serve three different tables Eggs Benedict I hate you forever), I headed over to Greece to meet my friends Mish Way (of White Lung) and Hether Fortune (of Wax Idols and current bassist of White Lung) where they had a break from their international tour. We had arranged to have a little ladies vacation in Hydra, one of the Saronic islands about three hours from Athens by ferry (no relation to the evil world-wide organization that was the enemy of Tony Stark, I don’t think anyway). With the exception of one crazy night in Athens with our pals Deafheaven, all we really engaged in was some pretty high level chilling. If you ever make it over this corner of the Aegean Sea, here are some of our travel tips…
TIP #1: Listen to Deafheaven
Okay, so this isn’t really a Greece-related tip, but Deafheaven is incredible, and if you ever get a chance to see the black-metal babes live, in Athens or anywhere, take it. You won’t be sorry. Here is a photo of us with the band at some cool bar that played a lot of Papa Roach and Korn.
TIP #2: Go see the sights
Even if you’re all “yawn, ancient buildings, I’ve seen them a million times in my history books and in the Yanni Live at the Acropolis video tape” (which I’m sure you’re not, because you’re far more evolved and cultured than I am and you do not own the Yanni VHS and neither do I…anymore) you need to go check out the Acropolis and Parthenon. This thing has been here since the fifth century BC and it’s downright majestic (I actually think Hether may have cried). These people invented democracy! Go bask in their glory, and also make sure to take a selfie, because an Acropolis selfie definitely puts most other selfies to shame.
TIP #3: Hit up the flea market
The Monastiraki flea market at Avissynias Square is kind of magic. There are tons of vendors and little shops selling all sorts of stuff, from nick-nacks to weird bootleg Slipknot t-shirts to ceramic renditions of Greek statues. On Sundays there are a ton more people slanging cool vintage items (like this Elvis book I found), so that’s probably the best day to go, but there are two amazing record stores open every day stocked with a ton of rare punk, 80s, and especially metal gems (Greek people LOVE heavy metal).
TIP #4: Eat gyros
Greece is a great place to go if you’re on a budget (which you will be after you spend most of your money flying halfway around the world and the rest on Jesus and Mary Chain records at that flea market). Gyros can be found on literally every corner, they are delicious and filling, and they cost a euro and a half, or about $2. Hether recommends getting the chicken gyro but substituting the mayo sauce for tzatziki (the yogurt sauce), which they will always do for you with a smile because they are nice people unlike the French who would probably throw the sandwich at your head.
TIP #5: Travel light if you can
To get to Hydra, you’re going to have to take a ferry. Your best bet is the Flying Dolphin (best name ever?) which takes three hours and will run you about 25 euros each way (a total of approx. $68). You’re going to have to haul your shit on and off the boat, so you’re better off with a small, easy-to-carry bag. Here I am not taking my own advice with a giant suitcase filled with 100 black t-shirts. :/
TIP #6: Love cats
Hydra is known as the Island of Cats (AKA HEAVEN). There are no cars or motorbikes there, so the kitties just run free, sunbathing on warm stones and eating leftover calamari and feta. If you are a true freak (like this person) you can buy cat food at one of the local supermarkets, and walk around feeding every single feline feeling like the pied piper of Hydra.
TIP #7: Go swimming
Okay that’s not really a tip, but I needed an excuse to show you how mind-blowingly beautiful the water is here. There aren’t really beaches per se, just stone docks with metal ladders into the sea, but if you want to go to a beach, you can take a short boat ride for 12 euros ($16) to another part of the island.
TIP #8: Get the right souvenirs
Like most islands Hydra is rife with boutiques filled with pretty jewelry, flowy linen dresses, and colorful woven handbags. Avoid those at all costs. None of that stuff is made on Hydra (or in Greece at all); it’s all imported and overpriced. Instead pick up some Greek olive-oil soaps and lotions which are super hydrating and smell amazing (and are pretty cheap), and grab some of these beautiful rocks from the “beach”, which are free (maybe a few less than I picked up, unless you also enjoy hauling around an extra 10 lbs in your suitcase).
TIP #9: Eat
This is a good thing to do if you want to avoid dying. I ate at least one Greek salad every single day because they are glorious (look at that giant piece of beautiful feta) at our favorite restaurant on the island, Taverna Lulu. Lulu (pictured above) is the sweetest woman on the planet, and she serves traditional fresh Greek food like dolmehs, calamari, and saganaki, which is super tasty and very affordable (also we could pick up our hotel’s wifi from there). For a slightly fancier meal, hit up Paradosiakon, which is situated in a charming little back alley in Hydra town and serves Greek seafood delicacies (I still dream about saffron-infused mussels with feta, when I’m not dreaming about Donald Duck chasing me…don’t ask).
TIP #10: Have a drink (or five) at Pirate Bar
Pirate Bar is the most famous bar in Hydra. As far as I can tell, it’s also one of the only bars in Hydra. The menu is filled with fun blended island drinks and there’s a DJ who plays stuff like Talking Heads and Iggy Pop, plus they bring you little bowls of potato chips, which is always a big selling point for me in any bar.
That’s all I got. To conclude, here is a photo of Hether and Mish with a nice young Greek man. Opa. xo
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