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Chris Hale
The fortress guarding the Isle of Hydra.

A warm Mediterranean breeze caressed our faces as the Greek vessel Anna Maru sliced through the calm waters of the Sarconic Gulf. The October weather was perfect for a cruise through the Greek Isles. Amber and I would have been perfectly happy just enjoying the water even if we hadn't had scheduled dockings at Poros, Hydra, and Aegina. It was going to be a perfect day.

On board we were entertained by roving musicians who pulled my daughter out of her chair to dance as they played traditoinal Greek folk music with their guitars and bouzoukis. Other vacationers clapped in time as Amber overcame her shyness and gave an impromptu performance.

The water resembled a traffic intersection with ferries, cruise ships, and freighters traveling in every direction, each having their own island destination. Most impressive were the high-speed hydrofoils passing by at close range; their hulls out of the water with only their skis skimming the surface.

We cruised past Aegina to our first stop of Poros.

We pulled into port and were charmed by the surrounding hills spotted with Venetian and Neo-classical architecture; lovely sherbet-colored three story buildings with terracotta tiled roofs. The highest point was occupied by a white stone clock-tower looking down on the sea.

We walked around the shops near port and enjoyed traditional Greek treats and souvenir shopping in a very tranquil and cordial environment. The view of the land meeting the water was picturesque and exhilarating to see.

Our next stop was the Isle of Hydra, the furthest of the three we visited that day. My first impression was that it looked a lot like Poros and yet so different because the gently rolling hills appeared to go on and on. Vendors offering mule rides along the private yacht-filled docks, adding a truly Mediterranean feel.

Amber and I spent a lot of our time walking along the docks and exploring a cannoned fortress situated at the mouth of the harbor opening. There were a thousand perfect opportunities to take memorable photos of each other, and after a while our time was up and we embarked once again.

The Isle of Aegina, the closest to Athens and the larges of the three, had a quite different appearance. We had time to explore on our own but decided to take an organized tour that the cruise line offered.

The bus tour included a stop at the temple of Aphaea, a Greek goddess who was worshipped almost exclusively on the island. The traditional Greek ionic-columned temple was situated on an elevated rock, surrounded by pines and overlooking the Sarconic Gulf in more than one direction. The view was utterly breathtaking and more priceless pictures were taken in this ancient wonderland.

After leaving the temple of Aphaea, the bus stopped at the Monastery of Agios Nektarios, another fascinating example of Greek architecture but more contemporary than the venerable temple.

Grudgingly, we boarded our ship for the trip home. I remember thinking that I'd love to visit the three islands again when I had more time to spend on each of them individually.

The sun set on our way back to Athens. Seagulls flew around the deck as Amber and I, exhausted after our day cruise, reflected on how beautiful each of the three islands were in their own way. The cruise, alone with the scenery it provided, would have been enough to make us content. The three stops, however, completed the perfect experience.

Chris Hale is an aviation maintenance technician for a major airline who has traveled extensively with his family. In his spare time he writes fiction novels inspired by places he's been. Find out more about his books at www.Chrisahale.com