After a 90-minute ride, Athens is a world away, and we pull into the Isle of Hydra. Its main town, also called Hydra, is home to about 90 percent of the island's 3000 residents.
 After the noise of Athens, Hydra's traffic-free tranquility is a delight. I'm glad I'm packing light as I hike up to my hotel.
 Hydra is one of the prettiest towns in Greece. Its superb harbor is surrounded by an amphitheater of rocky hills. There's an easy blend of work-a-day commerce, fancy yachts, and lazy tourists on island time. Donkeys rather than cars, the shady awnings of well worn cafes, and memorable seaside views all combine to make it clear you found your Greek Isle.
 Hydra was a Greek naval power famous for its shipbuilders. The harbor, with twin forts and plenty of cannon, housed and protected the fleet of 130 ships as Greeks battled the Turks in their early 19th century war of independence.
[80a] The town stretches away from the harbor — a maze of narrow, cobbled streets, flanked by whitewashed homes. In the 1960s, the island became a favorite retreat for artists and writers, who still draw inspiration from the idyllic surroundings.
 One of the island's greatest attractions is its total absence of cars and motorbikes. Instead, donkeys do the heavy hauling today just as they have through the centuries. And I suppose for just as long they've treated children to rides as well.
 At the top of town, the humble Taverna Leonidas has been around so long it doesn't need a sign. The island's oldest and most traditional taverna was the hang-out of the sponge divers a century ago. These days Leonidas and Panagiota feed guests as if they're family. And tonight the place is all ours as our enthusiastic cook welcomes us into his kitchen.
Steves: So what are we cooking? Leonidas: We cook lamb with roast potatoes. Grilled shrimps with an oil lemon sauce. Calamari with a garlic sauce. Spanokopita – spinach pie. Eggplant. And the beets.
And before we know it, Leonidas has us all sitting at the table and he starts bringing in wave after wave of his fabulous dishes...
Steves: Here we go the shrimps. Leonidas: Yeah the shrimps with the oil lemon sauce.
 A fleet of taxis shuttle people to outlying hamlets and beaches. We're catching one for a windy survey of the island and to be dropped off for a scenic hike back into town. Hydra is popular with walkers, who come to explore the network of ancient paths that link the island's outlying settlements, churches, and monasteries. And in springtime, hikes come with fields of wild flowers.
 A delightful way to cap the day, is to follow the coastal path to the village of Kamini. Its pocket-sized harbor shelters the community's fishing boats. Here, with a glass of ouzo and today's catch, as the sun slowly sinks into the sea and boats become silhouettes, you drink to the beauties of a Greek lsland escape.
Find out more about Hydra, Greece