September 23, 2023

By Rochelle Beighton | CNN

Hydra is at first look no totally different from its neighbors. Like different islands within the Aegean Sea, it has white-washed streets, aromatic jasmine-filled air and breathtaking vistas of the shimmering blue waters round it.

What units Hydra aside is its favored mode of transportation. Locals have resisted the clamor of honking horns, as a substitute embracing the rhythmic sound of horse hooves.

Right here, vehicles should not simply absent; they’re deliberately saved away. A ban on motorized automobiles (besides hearth and refuse vehicles and ambulances) is enshrined in native laws.

The Greek island’s inhabitants of about 2,500 locals get round utilizing mules, donkeys and small horses.

Stepping off the ferry and onto Hydra Port, the center of the island, guests are met by small horses gracefully weaving their manner by way of the cobblestone streets and giving them a style of the island’s unhurried tempo.

As you wander by way of Hydra’s quaint pathways, it’s frequent to witness locals going about their each day enterprise, accompanied by their four-legged companions.

From Kaminia, a tranquil village on the southern shoreline adorned with conventional stone homes, to Mandraki on the island’s western shores, famend for its pristine waters and laid-back aura, the island is intertwined with their presence.

“Hydra is an island that actually takes you again in time,” says Harriet Jarman, proprietor of horse trekking firm, Harriet’s Hydra Horses.

“All of the transportation on this island is completed by horses or mules. As a result of there are not any vehicles, everybody’s lives are slightly bit calmer.”

No vehicles? No drawback

“Hydra is an island that actually takes you again in time,” says native resident Harriet Jarman.(Courtesy Harriet Jarman) 

Jarman’s reference to Hydra started 24 years in the past when her mom introduced her to the island on trip, resulting in a life-changing choice to make Hydra their everlasting dwelling.

It was a decade later, throughout Greece’s financial disaster, when Jarman confronted stress to promote her cherished horse, Chloe.

Decided to maintain her beloved companion, she determined to ascertain her horse trekking enterprise, a enterprise that not solely supported Chloe but additionally allowed her to share her love for the island’s landscapes.

“I obtained fed up with everybody telling me to promote her (Chloe) as a result of it’s costly to maintain a horse,” she recollects. “I assumed, okay, I’m going to indicate individuals the the reason why I wish to keep on the island myself.”

The corporate now has a staff of 12 horses, with guided excursions throughout the island’s trails led by skilled equestrians.

These journeys soak up Hydra’s many quaint monasteries and picturesque seashores. Riders may even take a refreshing swim alongside the horses.

A heritage carved in hoofprints

Donkeys are a common form of transport on Hydra.(Anton Petrus/Moment RF/Getty Images)
Donkeys are a standard type of transport on Hydra.(Anton Petrus/Second RF/Getty Photographs) 

The choice to embrace conventional horse-drawn transportation, often known as “cáiques,” pays homage to the island’s wealthy heritage and dedication to sustainable dwelling.

Through the 18th and nineteenth centuries, Hydra flourished as a bustling maritime hub. However because the twentieth century arrived, bringing motorized transport to the remainder of Greece, the island’s slim and steep streets, coupled with rocky terrain, made vehicles impractical to get round in.

And so residents clung to equine transportation, which might traverse the rugged panorama extra effectively.

Over time, this reliance on hooves turned ingrained in Hydra’s tradition and lifestyle.

Donkeys and mules turned an integral a part of the island’s identification and have been used to move items, constructing supplies and even individuals across the island – a practice that persists to today.

“Everybody round right here lives off their backs,” Jarman says. “They’re our vehicles and fingers, carrying all the pieces from constructing supplies and furnishings to baggage and procuring.”

An inventive paradise

Jewelry designer and Hydra native, Elena Votsi, draws inspiration from the area's natural beauty.(Nikolaos-Panagiotis Kiafas)
Jewellery designer and Hydra native, Elena Votsi, attracts inspiration from the realm’s pure magnificence.(Nikolaos-Panagiotis Kiafas) 

The absence of vehicles has contributed to the island’s plain tranquility, drawing in creatives from throughout, together with famend Italian actress Sophia Loren, who fell in love with Hydra whereas filming “Boy on a Dolphin” in 1957.

“Hyrda gives fantastic colours, stunning gentle and a novel environment that has impressed many individuals,” says jewellery designer and Hydra native, Elena Votsi.

Recognized for her work that blends conventional craftsmanship with fashionable aesthetics, Votsi attracts inspiration from her Greek heritage in addition to nature and geometry.

Though born in Athens, Votsi says she spent summers and holidays on Hydra, visiting her father. She says the absence of vehicles makes it a magical place to work and has impressed her designs for the reason that starting of her profession.

“The solar, rocks and patterns of the waves impressed me. The island’s pure magnificence and uniqueness have had a big affect on my artistic course of,” Votsi mentioned.

In 2003, she was invited to partake in a contest to revamp the Summer time Olympic Video games medal for the Worldwide Olympic Committee.