The mules and donkeys of Hydra

Hydra is a small island in the Argo-Saronic gulf, an easy trip from Athens by ferry or hydrofoil. It is a busy, bustling, but fairly small harbour, with many boats moored to the quay. A working port, there are always numerous ferries, day trip boats, water taxis.  Hydra is one of our favourite sailing dests.

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During the months of April to October this is a favourite destination for yachts and motorboats of all sizes, and there is nothing more entertaining than sitting on deck of  your own boat , or at a nearby taverna with a long drink, any time from noon onwards, watching newcomers arrive and try to find a space to moor, jostling amongst the fishing boats and dodging the ferries. I could write a whole blog on the different mooring styles of different nationalities, but I’ll leave that for another time….

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Yachts moored in Hydra harbour

No vehicles are allowed on the island, except for a rubbish truck, so everything has to be carried by donkey, mule or pony. The harbour and only town in Hydra is surrounded by houses built on steep hills, reached by narrow streets and steps which are well trodden by many donkeys over the years.

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There is so much going on, you could stay here for days and never tire of things to see. Everything has to be imported by boat, so every morning the quayside is bustling with Greeks unloading goods from various craft – from bottled water, huge bottles of mayonnaise, oil and vinegar for the restaurants, tinned tomatoes, yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables of every description, paper tablecloths, sacks of potatoes, tubs of washing powder. Every so often building supplies arrive, also furniture, electric fans, and I even saw a kitchen sink!

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The donkeys and mules are amazing. They line up along the quay, with two or three tied together, each group owned by one person who is always hovering nearby. Most are not tethered but they stand perfectly still, awaiting instructions with only a swish of a tail or stamp of a foot to break their silence.

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They occasionally give rides to tourists, but this is not their main function. They are true pack-mules and carry everything, everywhere. This morning I saw mules laden with visitors’ luggage, bags of cement, ten foot scaffold planks, rolls of carpet, and even a brand new three piece set of cane garden furniture!

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On an early morning walk we saw mules carrying crates of empty beer bottles, bags of rubbish, and even one serving as a mobile bakery with the owner aboard carrying many bags full of bread freshly cooked at the nearby bakers, destined for an outlying village.

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After a hard day’s work watching the mules, a taverna lunch and an afternoon swim, you can go to the aptly named Sunset Bar for an evening drink…..

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If you’ve got to the end of this post, please leave a comment!

– see you tomorrow in the A to Z challenge   for something beginning with ‘I’…..

 

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5 thoughts on “The mules and donkeys of Hydra

  1. This post brought back some happy memories for me. The best part of holidays when I was a kid was going on the donkey rides at the beach. I suspect these donkeys had to work somewhat harder. Great pictures! I especially liked the one carrying the empty beer bottles!

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