We come because Hydra has what we’re looking for: a beautiful harbour, not too big, with local supermarkets, tavernas and good coffee. White washed houses spreading up over the hills behind the water, reached by foot or donkey over flagstones polished smooth by the footsteps of generations. No cars. The clearest, brightest, bluest water. No beaches – instead, rocky coves reached by boat or by foot – where the only way to swim is to dive in, never wade, and swim out as far as you dare whilst your towel warms on the hot rocks behind. Gentle, kind people. Laughter. Warmth. Warm colours. Smells of oregano, thyme, saltwater, horses. A waterside taverna or two, just the right amount of lazy walking from the dock to warrant a long, winey, oily lunch.
On arriving, we quickly establish a ritual of our own. Down to the harbour at sunrise, to see the fishermen come in and nab pastries still warm from a night’s baking. Coffee, in one of the harbour cafés, surrounded by the low hum of local gossip and slow burning cigarettes. Then up over the hill on the coastal path to discover our beach for the morning – we hunt for just the right balance of sun and shade to please us all.