Flying Dolphin

Flying Dolphin Hydrofoil
Photo courtesy of

We wake up at six this morning and leave our hotel to pick up Andrea's mother Elaine, who has just arrived from the states, at Mary's where she had spent the night. We easily find a taxi and are deposited among the other hysterical travelers who are attempting to get out of Athens on the only available sea-route, since the ferries are going to be on strike at least until next Monday.

It is total chaos. The orange and blue Flying Dolphins or "flies" as the Greeks call them, are parked three and four deep. Some arriving passengers have to pass through two or three of them to get to the dock. When they announce our boat there is a mad rush of pushing and shoving as young Hellenic travelers jostle with aggressive little old ladies dressed in black, to get a good spot on a boat that is more like an airplane than anything you would find on the sea. Amarandi chooses this moment to get hysterical and Elaine loses confidence in her ability to get on the boat with a child in her arms. I have my bags plus I'm dragging Elaine's handy wheeled suitcase carrier which is broken and immobile. Andrea has the stroller. Just as we are about to join our fellow passengers on board we're told to stop as two hundred people use our dolphin as a bridge to the dock. They burst through the small opening like water rushing through a broken levee.

We finally get Elaine and Amarandi on board with some help from the stewards and make our way to the front which is the bumpiest part of the boat and not recommended to those prone to seasickness. Amarandi slips into her boat personality and becomes instantly playful and happy and we're all able to relax. When the few Greeks who had been sitting up front feel the first pangs of nausea we have the entire compartment, each with a row of seats to ourselves. Andrea stretches out and recovers her lost sleep. Elaine sings to Amarandi and I start to get seasick. Luckily as it turns out it's only my rebellious stomach complaining about my breakfast of espresso and vitamin C. I must do something about my diet. Not on the flying dolphin though. The only food available is potato chips, candy and more coffee.

Hydra looks inviting in the morning light. The harbor water which was a foul-smelling gray sludge when we passed through last August is actually clean and blue, the flushing of ten thousand hotel and sailboat toilets still in the future. Already some of the jet-setters are sunning away their hangovers on the rocks just outside the harbor that fill in for Hydra's lack of a true beach. The home of Leonard Cohen during his creative period it has now degenerated into a euro-trash tourist haven attracting visionaries and deep thinkers like Joan Collins and Benji. My parents were going to buy a house here in 1970 for six thousand dollars but turned their back on the deal because they thought it was too expensive. Now you can't buy a one room ruin for less than a hundred thousand bucks.

Even so, the fortress above the rocks is the best place in the world to watch the sunset. Especially with an ouzo in your hand during any month but June, July, and August.

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Athens Survival Guide

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