My recent trip to Athens was an absolute delight. Amongst many truly memorable moments, was the stunning view from the top of the mountain that sidles the city…
…and finding the bar nestled into the rock face at its peak.
The classic sights were as glorious as promised…
… As were the hidden gems.
It is hard to pinpoint my favourite moment, but the views in the National Park were certainly up there…
…That, and the desserts.
Within a near perfect trip, there was one small grievance I had with the historic city. As we traversed the town, blissfully carefree as tourists should be, there was rarely a time that we didn’t happen upon a furry little friend, living a stray existence, softly mewing in innocent hopelessness.
There are an incredible number of stray cats on the streets in Athens and in most parts, and certainly at first glance, it seems as though they get by just fine. This is likely, and sadly, not entirely true though.
It is widely accepted, although vehemently denied by the government, that thousands of stray dogs and cats were poisoned to clean up the streets and parks before the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. A truly harrowing thought.
Unfortunately, this sobering thought is worryingly realistic considering the Greek Government’s historic inaction when asked to clean up its stance and deal with the animal crisis, especially when under fire from the international community.
But amongst a growing glossar of dismal governmental displays there is some hope for the furry street fellows. Taking the cause into their own hands, Ex-Pats and local folks, concerned with the maltreatment of street cats (and dogs), in Athens are setting up small shelters, or havens, for these much maligned creatures. It’s a small, but important, step to rectifying a much wider problem.
On a personal note, and as an animal lover, I think back to one little kitten (photographed below) in particular whenever I reminisce about my time in Athens. It will always have a teeny piece of my heart and I hold the hope, somewhat in vain, that this can keep it safe.
I never named it, but think perhaps I should. Any suggestions?
(Photos – Eli Woodbine, Athens, 2015)