We visit Hydra, Poros & Aegina
Hydra is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece, located in the Aegean Sea between the Saronic Gulf and the Argolic Gulf. It is separated from the Peloponnese by a narrow strip of water. In ancient times, the island was known as Hydrea ( derived from the ancient Greek word Hydro for "water"), a reference to the natural springs on the island. No cars are allowed in Hydra, so the only transport is by donkey, bicycle or foot.
There is one main town, known simply as "Hydra port" (pop. 1,900 in 2011). It consists of a crescent-shaped harbor, around which is centered a strand of restaurants, shops, markets, and galleries that cater to tourists and locals (Hydriots). Steep stone streets lead up and outward from the harbor area. Most of the local residences, as well as the hostelries on the island, are located on these streets. Other small villages or hamlets on the island include Mandraki (pop. 11), Kamini, Vlychos (19), Palamidas, Episkopi, and Molos.
Geography - Demography. The municipality of Hydra consists of the islands Hydra (pop. 1948, area 49.6 km), Dokos (pop. 18, area 13.5 km), and a few uninhabited islets, total area 64.443 km.
Hydra Island island is a very popular tourist destination, mainly due to its picturesque Old Town with its red tiled houses and narrow stone-paved streets. Once a major seafaring community. These days the island’s wealth mainly comes from tourism, but fishermen and farmers can still be found.
The Town of Hydra Island is amphitheatrically. Arranged within a close bay situated approximately at the middle of the northern coast of the island. Also, it is surrounded by bare rocks and steep mountains. The first impression of the visitor, as the ship reaches the port, is the image of the high impressive Old Mansions overlooking the Town of Hydra Island. What follows is the view of the Old Defensive Bastions with their canons on site, which are still protecting the town from remote and forgotten enemies. Finally the spectacle is completed with the uncountable boats and yachts from any place of the world, mooring at the port.Rubbish trucks are the only motor vehicles on the island, since by law, cars and motorcycles are not allowed. Horses, mules and donkeys, and water taxis provide public transportation. The town of Hydra Island is the unique settlement of the island. It counts some 3000 permanent residents and presents the originality that no vehicles are allowed within it.
So the people, locals and visitors, go from one place to another only on foot or on donkeys’ back.
The inhabited area, however, is so compact that most people walk everywhere. Hydra benefits from numerous bays and natural harbors, and has a strong maritime culture.
In 2007, a National Geographic Traveler panel of 522 experts rated Hydra the highest of any Greek island (11th out of 111 islands worldwide) as a unique destination preserving its "integrity of place"
Boy on a Dolphin is a 1957 20th Century Fox romantic film set in Greece and shot in DeLuxe Color and CinemaScope. It was directed by Jean Negulesco and produced by Samuel G. Engel from a screenplay by Ivan Moffat and Dwight Taylor, based on the novel of the same name by David Divine. The film was Sophia Loren's English-language debut. She starred opposite Alan Ladd and Clifton Webb, with Alexis Minotis and Laurence Naismith in support. It was the first Hollywood movie shot in Greece.
Hydra eventually did join the cause of independence, and Hydra's contribution of some 150 ships, plus supplies, to fight against the Turks played a critical role. The Greek admiral Andreas Miaoulis, himself a settler on Hydra, used Hydriot fire ships to inflict heavy losses on the Ottoman fleet. Eventually the fleet of Hydra - along with those of the other two naval islands of Psara and Spetses - were able to wrest control of the eastern Aegean Sea from the Ottoman Empire.
With the end of the revolution and the creation of the Greek state, the island gradually lost its maritime position in the Eastern Mediterranean, igniting an economic crisis that led to a period of hardship and unemployment. The main reason was that with the creation of the Greek state, Hydra's fleet lost the privileges that the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca and the use of the Russian flag had given it. Another reason was that the traditional families who owned the majority of the fleet failed to foresee the benefits of participating in the steam ship revolution, which significantly cut shipping operational costs through reduced crew and independence of the winds, putting them at a disadvantage vis-á-vis the new shipping companies of Piraeus, Patras, and Syros. A third reason was that the new conditions made illegal activities such as piracy impossible. Once again, many inhabitants abandoned Hydra, leaving behind their large mansions and beautiful residences, which fell into ruin. The mainstay of the island's economy became fishing for sponge. This brought prosperity again until 1932, when Egypt forbade fishing along its coast. By World War II, the Hydriots were again leaving the island; many of them went abroad.