I know we normally fly to a destination go to town and explore on foot or on wheels, but getting around Greece, your best bet is traveling by boat it you want to see the three famous islands. Not on just any boat, you have to try going round the Aegean Sea on a yacht! Hey, we’re worth it!
With the water and the boats and the slow pace, you just kind of wake up every morning and go “AAAHHH!’ The Greek Islands, a little bit of heaven just a bit south of Athens, over 4,000 islands with13 thousand miles of shoreline. Each one is just waiting for someone to discover what kind of delights it has to offer!
Now, close your eyes and imagine an island virtually unchanged for the past 200 years, no cars, no trucks, no buses, no high rise buildings. Imagine yourself basking in the sun, taking in the sites or people watching at a seaside café with an all-day coffee or ouzo! Now open your eyes because Hydra is one vacation destination you have to see to believe!
Located in the Saronic Gulf, just 90 minutes by ferry from Athens, is where you’ll find this unspoiled paradise, perfect for the entire family! You won’t have to watch at street corners and hold your children’s hands, there are no cars or taxis here. That’s right….no wheels! But you can still catch a “ride” to cruise around town! On a donkey! You know, since they don’t have cars here, if somebody was smart, they’d think about donkey drive-through. Banks, shops, we invented a new business. I’m on it!
Did somebody say shopping? Hydra’s the place for great deals on handcrafted gold jewelry and other treasures. Credit cards? Yep, they take ‘em. Ship it home? You bet. And anything handcrafted in Greece comes home duty free…now that’s an incentive! It’s just fantastic! I love that there’re no cars here. Donkeys. Walking. You know, it’s like it was a 100 years ago, except for the power boats.
Now going up steps and hillsides, this is what you save your donkey budget for, costs about 6 Euros for 15 minutes, you’re gonna want it to go up to the top of the hills. Ladies, just don’t wear a dress! Now if you’re thinking, I’m not going to ride a donkey, it’s just for tourists, now that’s not necessarily true. They have tourist donkeys, but they also use them in their daily life for hauling things around, basically if you don’t want to haul it up the steps, you put it on a donkey. Once you’ve made it to the top, give yourself and your donkey a breather and take in the view from the platform at the entrance to the harbor. Here, a statue honors the Greek soldiers who led Hydra in the Greek War for Independence in the early 19th century.
Nowhere in Greece will you find such a concentration of 18th and 19th century architecture. In the early 1800’s, over 30,000 people lived here, mostly wealthy ship owners and merchants. They brought in Venetian artisans and carpenters to work on their homes and mansions, and many have been beautifully preserved.
Today, on Hydra, there are only 3,000 people living permanently on the isle. There is no crime, no cars, so Hydra is both clean and safe (‘cept for donkey droppings! It makes it perfect for a family vacation and I have to admit, the younger set really enjoy the four-legged taxis.
And when the sun goes down, the Greeks come out. First to enjoy the beautiful views of the sunsets, and second, to eat and drink, and then eat and drink some more! They drink a liquor called ouzo, made from anise or anisette, basically it tastes like licorise and when you add water to it, it goes cloudy!
People always ask me, “Where do you like to go eat?” So here’s a little insider tip. If you walk up to the sunset side of the harbor, you’re gonna find this great little seafood restaurant called Sunset. Why? Because it has a fantastic view of the water. Well, if you want to see the water, you’re gonna have to come at lunchtime because it gets pretty dark after sunset. Greeks eat late, I mean the shops don’t close til 10:00. Anyway, you order the lobster and pasta and you have to be adventurous and try the octopus. It is a little rubbery, with flavor, and many people in the world include it in their favorite things to eat! Yes you have to try it, you’re in Greece now. When in Greece, do as the Grecians do, to coin a phrase!
Being out on the water in the middle of the Greek Islands on a boat has to be my idea of paradise. If Greece is called the land of the sun and the gods, then I’ve decided that my favorite Greek God is definitely Poseidon. But not just any boat, we’re talking paradise, remember…..the ultimate way to enjoy it, would be from your own chartered yacht. Or should I say….mega yacht! Oh yeah, now we’re talking!
You could go with Valef Yachts, if you don’t happen to own your own vessel. We were invited on board the “O’Pari,” 140 feet of luxury and fantasy…heaven on earth I’d be willing to say! And what better way to explore some of the 4,000 islands scattered across the Aegean and Ionian seas.
On a yacht in Greece, you sail away from crowded cities, crowded hotels and airports, into a world of privacy and luxury, with your own blue sky, your own crystal clear water, and 300 days of sun a year! Pick an island on a whim, noisy or quiet, nightclubs or secluded beaches, or choose no island at all! Just pick a secluded cove and drop anchor, time to bring out the toys and make some waves of our own!
Valef Yachts represents the largest fleet of luxury yachts for charter in Greece, with over 400 to choose from, in all styles and sizes, they can accommodate from 4 to 84 guests.
The O’Pari is one of Valef’s best and you can see why people, who can afford to do anything in the world, choose a yacht over a luxury resort or a villa. A yacht has many advantages, one of these can be that it’s very private, the crew is trained to always be there to take care of all your needs, but, at the same time, to disappear out of sight whenever you don’t want them to be there. So privacy is one of the main points. The second thing that yachting can offer at this level is that the quality of service is similar to a five or six star hotel.
The crew is very well trained, the analogy of crew is one to one, so it’s like you have your own personal butler waiting on you all the time. They are there, to take care of all your needs, anything you request, within reason of course, they are there to do it! The final thing, and the most important, is that yachting gives the opportunity and flavor of “lifestyles of the rich and famous.” Now to laugh, I believe everyone wants to experience that!
Okay, all this sounds great, but can real people really afford to do this? I found out it’s definitely possible, if you get a group together who would usually splurge on a luxury resort, then it’s no hassles, no details to worry about, just relax and enjoy!
But what kind of yachts can you charter? I found that there are three types of yachts with a crew: a sailing yacht, where you basically go with the wind, so there’s no fuel cost. A Motor sailor, a sailboat with a motor, so you have a choice. Or a motor yacht with no sails. And the price to charter is based on the size of the boat. So, how much are we talking here?
A nice smaller motor yacht, that has three double cabins, air conditioning, a crew of three, including the fuel, will cost about $1,200 a day. Not per person, of course, that’s for the whole boat for 6 people. So you divide that, it’s $200 a day per person. Not so far out as you thought, right?
Now, for the more expensive yachts, the average cost to charter is about $5,000 a day. But remember, for that, you also get the luxury, the privacy, and the chance to feel like royalty. I can definitely vouch for that! Wow! Just think, all that could be your home away from home for a week of bliss in the Greek Islands! What an experience for a lifetime!
But actually exploring one of the Greek Islands is another experience that you don’t want to miss. Which islands to cruise? Which islands to stop and explore? These are the decisions a yachtsman must make! That, and what to have for dinner, of course.
The captain of your will be instrumental in recommending an itinerary that you will be sure to enjoy in the time that you have at sea. He’ll make his recommendation, and then you flip a coin. Done! Cruise by the island of Poros and anchor for the night in Aegina. That’s the plan.
The Greek word, Poros, means a strip of sea between two bodies of land. Little did I know that the 2 bodies of land were so close together, you can actually see in the windows as you cruise by!
The distance between the Island of Poros and the town of Galatia on the Greek mainland is only 300 meters at its closest point, and in ancient times, you could actually walk across it! But today, you cruise, passing lovely painted houses and cafés, and a lifestyle that looks slow and easy.
A volcanic island with unrivaled beauty, Poros is also known as the Island of Poseidon. My favorite Greek God, now, I’ve definitely decided. Its location makes it the perfect stepping stone for a visit from Athens, as well as, to the surrounding islands, and its unique charm makes it a destination in itself.
Next you’ll come to your home for the rest of the day and night, the island of Aegina (or “Ah-gee-nuh” as they say here!), another island in the Saronic Group. With its quaint fishing boats and café culture, it’s a favorite stop on the yachting circuit, as well as, for the day-tripping ferry crowd.
Aegina is known for a lot of “firsts.” It was the seat of the first Greek Government a few thousand years ago. That’s impressive! And the very first coins of the western world were made here in the 7th century BC. You’ll soon find there’s no shortage of ways to spend a few coins here!
The local market in Aegina is just a block up from the port, and I think, the best way to get a feel for local color and flavor. All your senses will be engaged I can assure you. Pistachio nuts are what the island’s known for, the best in Greece, they say. Why not grab a bag and head for the hills! The highest point on the island is where to discover the ancient history of Aegina and where you’ll find the hilltop Temple of Aphaia.
You know what I think is special? Here you have this sleepy little island, with its fishing boats and its cafés in the port. Then you take a twenty-minute drive through the villages and the pistachio trees and you come up to this fantastic archaeological site that hasn’t been over commercialized, with incredible views. Now that’s the magic of the Greeks Islands!
Originally built in the 6th Century and then re-built in 480 BC, the Temple of Aphaia is one of the best preserved historical monuments in the world. Dedicated to the Mermaid Goddess, Aphaia, the temple has a rich history, full of legend and mythology. The architecture isn’t too bad either!
Over two and a half thousand years old, the temple is one point of a triangle that includes the Parthenon in Athens and the Temple of Athena at Cape Sounion, amazing technology using only fire to adjust height and distance. Just one of the incredible sights that the Greek Islands has to offer!
Sunset on Aegina. It doesn’t get much better than this! The magic hour when the island comes alive with local color, when the day-trippers return to Athens, and when the Greeks come out to play! Shopping and dancing and eating, and more dancing! Lots of dancing!
Ah yes….the Greeks really know how to have a good time! Opa! A tour of the Greek Islands on a private mega-yacht is like ten vacations in one. You have the scenery and the food, the entertainment and the shopping, the people and the donkeys, you have play time and rest time, and how about that Valef yacht!
What a great way to discover Greece! Wow! This is one of the most fantastic vacations you’ll ever have. The weather is great, the people are so friendly, the food’s terrific and you get to see ancient history still standing. What more could you ask for that isn’t offered to you on a sliver serving tray? I can’t think of anything, can you? If you come to Greece, don’t you dare miss out on the Greek Islands!