Search for  Hydra  found 7 posts
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Oct 30, 2016, Sunday
The Anti Athens    Athens Greece Hydra
Oct 30, 2016, Sunday
Oct 31, 2016, Monday
Back on the donkey    Greece Hydra
Oct 31, 2016, Monday
Nov 1, 2016, Tuesday
The dog you can ride    Greece Hydra
Nov 1, 2016, Tuesday
Nov 2, 2016, Wednesday
Nov 2, 2016, Wednesday
Jan 11, 2017, Wednesday
Jan 11, 2017, Wednesday
Jan 13, 2017, Friday
Jan 13, 2017, Friday
Jan 15, 2017, Sunday
Three Friends    Greece Hydra
Jan 15, 2017, Sunday
 
 
 

The Anti Athens

 
October 30, 2016   Sunday
Athens   Greece   Hydra
 
 

This morning we left Athens for Hydra, a small island known for ... well, unfortunately I need to digress, there is something more to say about Athens.

We were mugged this morning, on the metro. Maybe mugged is strong but it was more than a pick pocketing; it involved physical conflict, Paul and I versus several others. Not to worry, we weren't hurt and all we lost was a passport but it shook us up. It sucks. Put a big damper on the day.

Hydra

With that out of the way, I'll move on to our final Greek stop, Hydra. It's as laid back, as bucolic, as non hustle bustle as can be. The anti Athens.

We took the sinister-looking Flyingcat 4 from Piraeus to the town of Hydra which is on the island of the same name. It's a rocky island with maybe 3000 inhabitants almost all of whom live in the town.

So what's so interesting about Hydra? At first glance it's a typical picturesque Greek port, stone buildings climbing a hillside and wrapping around a port filled with colorful boats of all shapes and sizes, fishing and pleasure and transport. But what is unusual about Hydra is that it has no automobiles, no motorscooters, they don't even have bicycles. (How do you forbid bicycles?) All transportation is by foot, hand cart, boat, or donkey.

Weather permitting we'll spend the next couple days exploring the island on foot then we'll start our journey home. I confess that at the moment home sounds pretty good.

 
 
 
Boarding the Flyingcat 4 for Hydra      
The motorcyclist on the right, from the Hellenic Coast Guard, was a comforting site after the events of the morning.
 
The Flyingcat 4      
 
The Flyingcat 4      
 
Hydra harbour      
 
The view from our hotel      
jamesgaston.ca/477
 
 

Back on the donkey

 
October 31, 2016   Monday
Greece   Hydra
 
 

This morning the events of yesterday seemed distant, almost surreal, so we were back to enjoying the Greek island of Hydra, the car-free land of donkeys and cats.

Ahh, but we couldn't leave the unpleasantness quite yet, we had to file a police report because Canadian authorities require this for a replacement passport. We found the Hydra police in a small dark office (at first we thought they were closed) where an un-uniformed fellow sat at a desk watching a Greek telenova. A second casually-dressed officer soon joined him and he took our case. For some reason Barney Fife and Andy Taylor came to mind.

The second fellow took our information, wrote the report, had Paul swear on his choice of thing to swear on (honor, holy book, mother, etc.) then told us to return later when they'd give us a copy.

With that out of the way we stopped at the Hellenic Seaways office to inquire about tickets for Wednesday. There we were told that the sailing schedule for November had yet to be released since it isn't November. I wondered what makes this November different from previous Novembers but I kept this thought to myself.

With these tasks out of the way we had a late breakfast and shopped for something small and unbreakable that would remind us of Greece.

We then walked along the coastal path to the nearby village of Mandraki, though I'm being generous with the word village. Since the island has no cars most everyone lives in the town of Hydra. You can't zip into town for milk, it's a walk or a donkey ride, or a horse ride away.

 
 
 
View from our patio      
 
Donkeys      
 
Hydra      
 
Church      
 
Hydra town      
 
Strolling the Hydra waterfront      
 
How deliveries are made on Hydra      
 
Taking a break      
 
The path to Mandraki      
 
Contraband!      
 
A monastery      
 
Mondraki, a tiny village      
 
Chapel in Mondraki      
 
Pastry shop      
jamesgaston.ca/521
 
 

The dog you can ride

 
November 1, 2016   Tuesday
Greece   Hydra
 
 

Speaking of donkeys, today's Times debunks some of the myths that bedevil donkeys. For example, donkeys are cautious as opposed to contrary; they are employed to guard livestock - guard donkeys; they are one of the earliest beasts of burden, predating camels; and they can be friendly, what one person calls a dog you can ride.

Here are a few photos of the many donkeys seen about Hydra. The donkey rider in the last shot - they seem to mostly ride side saddle - was talking on the phone so I guess there are no rules about using mobile devices while riding, not that Greeks care too much about rules. The lead donkey appeared to know the route to the monastary.

 
 
 
Donkey      
 
Donkey      
 
Donkey in Hydra      
 
Donkeys, Hydra harbour      
 
Donkeys on a delivery      
jamesgaston.ca/522
 
 

Good-bye Hydra, good-bye Greece

 
November 2, 2016   Wednesday
Greece   Hydra
 
 

Our last morning in Hydra and the weather is clear, cool and still. Great weather for the ferry, not so great for the sail boat racers. We squeeze in a last morning in this tranquil place. Our hotel is a few blocks up the hill from the harbor, where the town suddenly transitions to country, and you wake to the sounds of the animals who wake up with the sunrise, crowing and barking and mewing and braying.

We walked down to the harbor then hunted for stairs that lead up to the ruins. The ruins aren't much in themselves, but they are evidence of a defensive position, so they overlook Hydra harbor and the coastline to the southwest.

Once up there we watched as the sailboats headed out into the deep sea to resume their race. The views are spectacular, with the deep wine sea and the steep brown and green hillsides here on the island and also across the water to the Peloponnese mainland. The sea is peppered with small islands, most have a small white chapel, even if the island is so small that no one could possibly live on it. I remember the port of Naxos town has a tiny island maybe forty feet from shore, and even it has a tiny chapel. Every island needs its chapel.

We had a long lunch at a harbor-side cafe where we watched the donkeys wait for their next assignment. Then we boarded the Flyingcat 6 for Piraeus and from there it was on to Athens airport for the night.

I'll miss Greece. The people are warm and welcoming. They have a long history of independence which was typified by the Hydra police officer offering Paul his choice of what to swear on (I swear on ... that this is the truth). They've been fighting for their independence for a long time, against the Ottomans, the Venetians, the Nazis. A shame they gave up their currency; my semi-informed opinion is they fit in with the EU philosophically but not economically.

The Greek scenery is so very beautiful, the seas crystal clear, and aside from Athens with its ugly buildings and graffiti the towns were pretty and clean. And such variety: super-scenic but oh-so-touristy Santorini, bucolic Hydra, medieval Monemvassia, outdoorsy Kardamyli, historic Athens, elegant Nafplio, and pretty Naxos. Greece isn't without its problems, some of which I now understand a little better, but it's a great place to visit both for its history and its present.

Well I guess it's time to go home.

 
 
 
Donkeys ready for another workday      
 
View southwest from the ruins      
 
West towards the mainland      
 
Ferry      
jamesgaston.ca/524
 
 

Accidental Panorama

 
January 11, 2017   Wednesday
Greece   Postprocessing   Panorama   Hydra
 
 

I didn't take a wide* lens to Greece last fall so I didn't get any of those mind-bending panoramas that a wide angle, a fish eye especially, can get you. Oh well. That I miss those shots so much tells me I may have to get another lens, like the Rokinon 8mm, or maybe a converter for the Nikon 10.5. It seems my shopping list is never empty.

On the other hand, I'm not really looking to add to my carry on. The iPhone's panorama function works in a pinch. Or, just overlap a set of shots by about a quarter frame then merge them later. The cost of these hand-made panoramas is in immediacy, the time spent processing, and a potentially ungainly file size, but it doesn't add to your bag.

Speaking of panoramas, here is an example of how not to shoot a panorama: the shots aren't lined up. It's not right, but I like it anyway.

*I'm gonna define wide as 10 to 12 on DX, 15 to 20 on FX.

 
 
 
Hydra      
A non-rectangular image like this has its limits - you're not gonna print it, some are gonna hate it. Whatever. Oh yeah, the full-screen link is hidden, its behind the camera icon.
jamesgaston.ca/573
 
 

Blue Boat(s)

 
January 13, 2017   Friday
 
 

Stepping off the ferry in Hydra the first thing that caught my eye was a blue boat. A lovely blue, it reminded me of a plastic-toy blue offered on the first-generation Miata. So I thought I'd have some fun with the blue boat set against the town as backdrop. First I cropped some sky off the top and some sea off the bottom which left just a band of each with a band of land in the middle.

 
 
 
Blue Boat, Hydra      
Next I ran the image through Silver Efex, keeping just the blue of the boat. The preset name, in this case High Structure Harsh, is shown in parentheses in the photo title.
 
Silver Efex (High Structure Harsh)      
I ran the partial b&w, the Silver Efex version, through Simplify. This seems to have messed with the blue, it took out the hint of turquoise. I like this blue but it's definitely not the same blue.
 
Silver Efex then Simplify (Oil Painting II)      
Yes, finally, the last blue boat. This is the original processed with Simplify. As with any of these tools, this example only hints at what you can do. The presets make fast work of it, but everything is changeable so you're not limited in any way.
 
Simplify      
jamesgaston.ca/574
 
 

Three Friends

 
January 15, 2017   Sunday
Greece   Hydra
 
 
Poverty, too, needs no explanation. In a world governed by entropy and evolution, it is the default state of humankind ... What needs to be explained is wealth. Yet most discussions of poverty consist of arguments about whom to blame for it. Stephen Pinker, The Second Law of Thermodynamics

I caught these fellows walking one morning along the harbour in Hydra. Actually I encountered the priest several times through our short stay. The tourists were mostly gone, except for me of course, and the seasonal businesses were starting to shutter their doors, so you saw the same people over and over again.

 
 
 
Old friends      
This would have been a better shot at a bigger aperture (quite do-able as I was shooting the 16). It would have put the town a bit out-of-focus so as to separate it from the three characters.
jamesgaston.ca/576