The ferries to and from Athens stop at the small port of Ermioni and other small ferries take passengers to the offshore islands of Hydra and Spetses. The harbour is peaceful and much of the town is spread out along a small peninsula with a natural reserve, covered in evergreen trees, at its tip.
Ermioni itself is a quiet village with several cafés and restaurants as well as a variety of accommodation options. There are several sandy beaches nearby. There isn’t much nightlife, other than enjoying a relaxing coffee or a drink along the edge of the Aegean.
Kapoors On The Road
We took the bus from Nafplio with the intention of reaching Ermioni and then transferring to a ferry for the short ride to the island of Hydra. We had identified Hydra as a must-see because of the fact that cars and motorcycles are not allowed on the island. If you look at a map of Hydra you will see roads are almost non-existent. Residents use mules and donkeys to transport heavy loads up the steep lanes in the towns.
We learned along the way that the bus did not travel all the way to Ermioni, but stops 6km before reaching the coast in the town of Kranidi. There are small buses that run several times a day between the two but during the quiet winter months, the schedule is reduced to one bus in the morning and one in the evening. We were too late for the early bus, and too early for the late bus.
Our only option was to take a taxi and pay the hefty fare, €15 instead of less than €3 for the two of us on the bus. The taxi dropped us in Ermioni in no time, right in front of the ferry company office. However, the office was closed and a sign on the door told us that we were too late for the afternoon ferry to Hydra. We would have to spend the night and much of the following day if we weren’t prepared to take a ferry at 6:50am.
There wasn’t much we could do, we had chosen to travel during the off-season and we were beginning to see the consequences, especially here in Greece. We walked through the deserted hamlet looking for a place to stay for the night. With all the small difficulties we were facing, we had forgotten that everything closes down between 2:00pm and 5:00pm in Greece and there wasn’t anyone to help.
At 4:30pm we saw a young man arrive to begin getting his café ready for the evening ‘rush’, and we asked him where we might find a place for the night. He directed us to a nearby real estate office and told us that the manager would arrive in the office in half an hour. Sure enough, he arrived promptly and took us to see a lovely apartment. We were sure we were going to have to pay a fortune, but it turned out to be just €65. Phew!
The next morning we went to the ferry office to buy tickets for the 2:30pm sailing only to learn that the workers were on strike for 48 hours and there would be no ferry to Hydra that day. Rats! Turns out the 48 hours started yesterday, so even if we had arrived earlier in the afternoon, we would have been stranded in Ermioni anyway.
We didn't really mind too much, because we liked this little town and the apartment was pleasant enough to stay for another night. We were told there would be a ferry next day for sure. I had been eyeing the lovely harbour and the little church and old-fashioned windmill sitting on the far side of the water. With nothing much to do till the following day, it wasn’t too hard to convince Anil to take a walk up to the windmill to get a better view of the town and the surrounding scenery.
It was a great afternoon, the sun was shining and there was a light breeze blowing. When we were done our walk, we bought some rice and lentils and cooked khicheri in our little kitchen. We served it with some with great Greek yogurt and caramelized onions on top too! Not too gourmet, but we loved it.
After eating, we realized that we hadn’t asked the estate manager for the wireless password and all the television channels were in Greek, so we finally pulled out the travel Scrabble game we’d been carrying around for months. We were glad our son Raj had encouraged us to take it along.
We dawdled in the morning, eating leftover food from the evening meal and then headed to the ferry office to purchase our tickets for the afternoon ferry to Hydra. The young man in the office had more bad news to give us. It seems the ferry workers had decided to extend the strike action and now everything was on hold for a week, instead of just 48 hours. It seems we weren’t meant to see Hydra this trip.
We decided to head back to Nafplio and hope that the Pension Dafni owner would be able to help us find a place to stay for Friday night. We weren’t due to be back until Saturday, and had learned that the hotel was fully booked until then. We weren’t too worried about a place to stay, but it was disappointing that we had come all the way to the coast and had yet to see a Greek island for ourselves.
On the two-hour bus ride back to Nafplio, we began to hatch a plan to visit Santorini. It’s a place that I have always wanted to visit, but we hadn’t felt that this was the year to venture there. When the ferries are running in the summer, there are options to take a fast ferry in just a few hours, or to take the slow boat and arrive in eight hours. There are also flights on Aegean and Olympic Airways that take just over 40 minutes. Seeing that I get terribly seasick on ferries, it was a no-brainer.
With the fast ferries shut down for the winter, and the slow ferries stuck in port because of the strike, Santorini was one of the few islands we could visit because it has an airport. Anil did some in-depth research and came up with a lovely hotel that has slashed its summer rates and put it right in our budget range. Guess what? We’re going to Santorini!