This month, my sisters and I flew to Greece and vacationed there for two weeks. While there, we visited Hydra ( pronounced “idra” in Greek) one of Greece’s Saronic Islands located on the Aegean Sea. In ancient times the island was known as Hydrea for its natural spring waters and rocky hills and cliffs. There is one main town on the island, the natives called Hydra Port.
The harbor is shaped like a crescent moon filled with restaurants, cafes, markets, galleries and shops catering to tourists and locals on a daily basis. Steep cobble-stone streets snake in and out various crooks and crannies throughout the town. Creeping up the high hills to local residences or to quaint motels and hostels. To get there is by ferry. Ninety minutes from the city of Athens and my sisters and I arrived there approximately nine thirty Saturday morning. We spent the day experiencing the island’s unique culture and way of living.
This breath-taking island was dry and warm, a mere ninety-five degrees. The breeze coming off the Aegean Sea made the temperature feel more like eighty. The island, quaint and lively, was bustling with activity. Their public transportation reminded one of days old. No cars or motorcycles were allowed on the island. Only donkeys, horses, mules and water taxis provided the island’s transportation. The town residents also walked, ran or bike to get around and everyday, ferries brought in tourists, products and food from the inland. Tourists planning an extended stay would load their luggage onto donkeys waiting with their owners on the harbor port. Donkeys not only transported luggage to hotel destinations but they also transported goods and food to the local cafes and restaurants.
We sampled authenic greek cuisine at the town’s cafes. Found good deals at their local shops and after lunch we hiked the hilly, twisted cobbled stoned road along the beautiful scenic harbor. Hydra, a popular yachting destination, is home to the Kamini Yacht Club, an international organization based in the port of Kamini. It is also home to hundreds of wild cats. The island’s feline residents run wild in the open harbor. They appeared content and happy just like their human neighbors.
We saw cats napping and hanging out in front of shops. Posing in bizarre positions on window sills (see picture above). Eating food out of bowls underneath tables in outside cafes, tidbits provided by staff who worked there. We saw cats sunning themselves on large rocks along the port and racing each other down the cobbled stoned streets.
My sisters and I stopped by an outside café for dinner prior to leaving the island to return to Athens. Curious about the large number of cats we saw lurking and running on the streets, I decided to asked our server about the feline critters. The server, a slender young man in his late twenties, sported a round curly black bun on top of his head. His scruffy black beard was matted to his face and when he smiled, his dark brown eyes crinkled up at the corners. I asked him about the cats and he smirked giving me his hilarious explanation in broken english. “Hundreds of cats secretly live up there in the hills. They eat the rats and whatever we feed them. They breed and make tons of cat kids. Pretty cat kids. I have three or four cat kids myself. They are lovely. They come and go. We love our cat kids.”
Then off he went. Disappearing inside of the cafe leaving my sisters and I with our mouths hanging open. Stunned by his explanation, we were amused by his obvious affection toward the island’s wild cats. We fell out laughing once the shock of his explanation sunk in, a humorous highlight to our adventurous, breath-taking day. This island with its unique characteristics and surprises is a must see when visiting Greece. As the young man so humorously pointed out “Life here is better with hundreds of cat kids!” #CatKidsAreKittens #WhenCatsHaveKids.
Categories: Short Stories