The capital of Santorini is the little town of Thira. It sits perched on the edge of what was once a massive volcanic crater. In past times, ships that arrived at the island anchored within the crater below the precipitous cliffs. Many arriving travellers made their way up to the town along a winding track - often on the backs of donkeys and mules.
Today, Shirley and I descended the zigzag track on foot, not realising the potential for danger that lay just ahead. There must have been a hundred donkeys and mules working that path. Sometimes they galloped down in teams of six or eight. At other times they trudged up carrying tourists. It was all harum scarum and in the cobbles of the narrow track much malodorous donkey crap had accumulated,
Amongst the teams were muleteers with sticks to whip the flanks of the unfortunate creatures. It all seemed so cruel and unnecessary to us but as we were walking down to the old port we were mostly thinking about survival - pressing ourselves against walls and hoping that the beasts of burden wouldn't career into us or stand on our feet or kick us.
We were very glad to get to the bottom unscathed and to return to the crater's rim we opted for the cable car instead. That did not exist when I last visited the island and there were certainly not so many animals working the pathway back in 1980. I am sorry that my photos do not convey a true sense of the danger we encountered.
Those poor animals.ReplyDelete
That is exactly what we thought.Delete
Thank goodness you and Shirley made it safely. That does indeed sound frightening! I feel so sorry for the poor donkeys. It seems like they could come up with a better way to get people up and down the road.ReplyDelete
They could use their own legs as we did Bonnie!Delete
It's a hard life for a mule!ReplyDelete
Is that an oblique reference to librarianship?Delete
Okay, I'm beginning to wonder if you're just testing my comment of a few days ago when I said I'd be happy to read anything your wrote about your trip! Gah!ReplyDelete
It's good that you and Shirley didn't get trampled. It would be an inglorious end to be flattened into the "malodorous donkey crap". Seriously, I'm glad you two didn't get hurt.
I knew that the presence of donkeys would appeal to you Jenny-O but these donkeys were definitely not procrastinating. If they even thought about procrastinating their asses would be whipped.Delete
You have missed my point, perhaps on purpose - I'm having a very hard time reading about donkeys being abused!Delete
Sounds like a bit of a nightmare! I'm glad you two made it safely there and back.ReplyDelete
We were very watchful but I tell you Mama Moon, we were mightily relieved to get to the bottom unscathed.Delete
Some of these are mules and quite a large animal.ReplyDelete
I bet you taught a few mules in your time Red.Delete
Your photos are just stunning.ReplyDelete
How did the knee hold out on such a long downhill walk?
Thanks for remembering Kylie. I took careful steps and my knee was fine. Half way down it is not worth turning back anyway.Delete
I wouldn't like to be caught in all that harum scarum, either!ReplyDelete
Poor animals. One would think their owners treat them better - after all, it is they who allow them to make a little money.
Those four legged creatures had such sad expressions on their faces.Delete
It's so sad for the poor animals.ReplyDelete
Cruise ships have now found all the previously unspoiled places in the world, and sell local "traditions" to their passengers. A donkey ride on Santorini must be amongst the "must do's" on any ships' Greek Islands itinerary. Imagine the poor beasts of burden having to carry 20 stone holidaymakers up such a steep incline !
And another thing CG, none of those passengers were wearing helmets. Perhaps they don't realise how dangerous that ride up the path can be.Delete
As I said on one of your previous Santorini posts, I find it hard to reconcile the fact that Greeks are so lovely, hospitable and kind to humans, yet treat their animals with such disdain. I have seen horses tethered in open fields in the searing heat of the day, goats hobbling around with front and back legs tied together, endless stray cats and dogs and donkeys lugging 20-stone tourists uphill. It makes me sad.ReplyDelete
I agree almost wholeheartedly with what you are saying ADDY but some Greeks treat their animals with much kindness and respect.Delete