|Port town of Hydra|
After a couple of days in the city we were glad to get out to the Greek islands. We took a day trip to the port town of Hydra, about two hours by hydrofoil from Piraeus. The island caters for Athenians on weekend breaks and though I hate to use the cliqued expression, it really had old-world charm. There is no motor vehicles permitted on the island, so donkeys, horses and dingies are the primary mode of transport for the locals. We had a great time ransacking the boutique stores and also found a secluded spot to swim off the rocks at the bottom of a sheer cliff face. The sea was beautiful but deceptive; even in May, it is cold enough to take your breath away.
Returning briefly to Athens, we joined a new tour group and spent three nights in Mykonos. I bought a magic circle drawing tool (or Spirograph) from a street vendor in Istanbul which provided us with some entertainment on the rolling ferry. Mykonos is a rugged island famed for its boxy white buildings and trashy party culture. We didn’t see much of the latter as it is currently the off-season and most of the island’s hot-spots are empty. Our campsite group compensated with supermarket booze and Thunderstruck on repeat.
Missy and I spent a full day exploring the main town and the port of Little Venice, where I took photographs of whitewashed alleys, windmills and rats of the sky (pigeons). These images were the basis for the attached sketches. I managed to pick up some watercolours from a bizarre newsagency that appeared to be stuck in an 80s time warp; unfortunately, the tubes must have been on the shelf for about thirty years as the paint has hardened into a useless dry powder.
Painting outdoors (en plein air if you want to get serious) is not as romantic as I imagined. My feet were burnt raw and I have a raccoon-like wind burn in the shape of my sunglasses. The Greek light has an intense quality that suits watercolours, but I was defeated by the elements and had to make quick work of my sketches. I only remembered later that the advocates of en plein air – Impressionists like Monet, Pissarro and Renoir – diffused the sunlight with a large white umbrella. If I ever join an art colony, I’ll make sure to pack a spoonful of cement in my box easel. Or at least a decent hat.
We are headed north to check out the monasteries of Meteora tomorrow. It will be our last point of call in Greece before crossing the border into Albania.
|My spirograph skills stink…or maybe it was the extreme lurch of the Mykonos ferry!|