HYDRA'S DONKEY TRANSPORT
JUNE 3, 2009. MY BIRTHDAY!
Today was my birthday, although the big party isn't until the weekend. So to celebrate it, we took a day trip on the Fast Cat (catamaran) to the lovely island of Hydra (pronounced EE-dra)
One of the nicest things about this island is the lack of motor vehicles. Donkeys are the main mode of transportation and they carry everything from riders and luggage to merchandise and lumber supplies. Hard working little creatures!
The gracious old houses of Hydra are stacked up the side of a bluff overlooking the harbour. It was a popular island for film makers back in the '50's and later the home of noted poet/musician Leonard Cohen. During the '70's this attracted all sorts of his followers to the island. I made my first visit there in 1979 on my first trip to Greece. Like Aegina, another small island off the Attic coast, it's a good place to go for day trips. Several boats a day go from the port of Pireaus. It's fastest to take the Flying Dolphin or Fast Cat which gets you there in just over an hour.
TYPICAL STREET SCENEIt's fun to explore the narrow little back-street of Hydra town. You can escape the crowds of tourists that congregate around the port itself where there's lots of shops and seaside tavernas where you can loll away the afternoon.
There is a paved path around the edge of the coastline that eventually reaches a small beach. And along the way there are tavernas overlooking the sea where you can swim from the shore or the floats. It's steep and rocky though, so not good for non-swimmers.
Little Hydra was one of those islands that weren't invaded by the Turks. Many people from the Peloponnese settled here and by the 19th century the island was an important maritime power.
The Hydriots made a fortune by running the British blockde of French ports during the Napoleonic Wars. Wealthy shipping merchants built most of the town's grand old mansions. Hydra contributed 130 ships to the Greeks during the War of Independence.