Travel: Athens & Hydra

Julia Knolle took a relaxing trip to Athens and Hydra. A travel tip for all you sun worshippers

Whereas it used to be that everyone went to France or Italy for four weeks of the Summer, this year it seemed like half of the world spent June through August on Greece’s beaches. As if they had secretly agreed on it, my Instagram account was welling over with posts from Rhodes, Kos, and most of all: Hydra!

You actually go on vacation precisely for the reason of not knowing anyone, but for these few days of office-getaway it was like traveling undercover. And after just a few hours there, it was clear to me what all the enthusiasm was about: namely the sunny attitude of the locals, the good food, and the favorable geographic location (near the sea). And even Leonard Cohen knew to appreciate Greece, and Hydra in particular. In his times, this wonderful island was known as an artist’s colony and Cohen (then still an unknown poet) spent a few years here with his muse and partner Marianne Jensen-Ihlen (he later dedicated the song So Long Marianne to her).

Since part of Documenta 14 will be taking place in Athens from the 8th of April until the 16th of July 2017, it was time to quickly put together my personal highlights for traveling in Athens and Hydra – also at the risk of giving away the last secret tips.

ATHEN:

Hotel

The New Hotel belongs to the art collector Dakis Iannou and is a member of the Design Hotels Collection. He let the two Campana brothers design the interior, lays out his own very worth reading publications in the lobby, and naturally hangs his art on the walls. The staff is so enchantingly nice that saying goodbye was almost difficult after spontaneously extending for another night.

Shortly before taking off for home at the end of the trip, my longing for the roof terrace was so strong that a last dinner with a view over the entire city got squeezed in to an already tight schedule. The location is unbeatable: you can walk to the Acropolis, there’s a small travel agent across the street and that’s helpful for booking ferry tickets to Hydra, and the only vegan super health deli in the city is just around the corner – the Avocado.

DINNER

The long trip to the outlying Gazi district is worth it. The Butcher restaurant was one of the few listed in the 2012 Wallpaper Guide that is still open. In a back courtyard overgrown with plants, extra loud music plays as you sit under fans and are served the highest quality meat that you could hope for alongside completely steamed broccoli, tzatziki, and a glass of ouzo. For whoever’s looking for a little more global cuisine, I recommend a visit to the Nolan restaurant.

 

ART

Mr. Iannou’s main house is in Athens, but is unfortunately closed in August and so we missed it. But his “colleague” George Economou also been collecting good art for his entire life and allows public access to his collection in a high-security wing. A solo exhibition of American artist David Hammons’ work was on show until the 30th of September. Coming soon: New Beginnings: Between Gesture and Geometry, a group show of 19 artists that deals with works made after the Second World War.

HYDRA:

You can reach Hydra in just under two hours – and for 37 euros – with a “Flying Dolphin”. Since there’s just donkeys on the island and no cars, it’s worth staying at Hotel Leto’s super central location, idyllic placed in a small alley. The breakfast is delicious, the rooms small-but-welcoming, and the water supply happily takes a little break between 11am and noon. As soon as the sun starts to set, it’s worth taking a stroll down the “main street”.

Drink a sundowner at the Hydronetta Bar while the last swimmers are still jumping in the sea. For dinner DIRECTLY on the water, we stopped off at Omilos. The cuisine is rather European and not very Greek, but the view of the bay is almost too good to be true and big city eyes will need a little while to get used to it. For a night cap, I recommend a stop in the Spilia Bar. There’s live music but at the end of the day, actually no one dances because it’s so incredibly full. The Sunset Café is also a good option and is located directly around the corner.

A boat will take you to the next bay and the Hotel Four Seasons, which has nothing to do with the chain of the same name. Many day guests come to the private beach, and though the restaurant is well-attended for lunch, you’ll almost have it to yourself in the evening. There’s a little bit of a Robinson Crusoe atmosphere, beautifully remote. The selection of activities is limited, but that’s probably what’s so pleasant about it here.

From the same point where the boots depart from the “center” of Hydra, there’s a tour that goes to the furthest end of the island. 15 euros for a 60-minute boat ride that’s more than worth it. If you’re lucky, the “Guilty” will pass by you, an unmistakable boat that Jeff Koons created for Mr. Ioannou which will throw everything you every thought in regards to private yachts directly overboard.

Wistfulness aside, whoever wants to extend that Greek state of mind a little longer after arriving home should either check out Rachel Cusk’s amazing book Outline or subscribe to Chris Kontos’ Instagram – the publisher of Kennedy Magazine who a) lives in Athens and b) we already introduced here. Until next year, dear Greece!

Thank you, New Hotel Athens, Member of the Design Hotels.

translation: melissa frost

Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.