Greece: Cats, ruins and abandoned buildings

As I transition between finishing the first draft of a novelette and beginning the pre-editor edits, I thought I would reflect a little more on my recent trip to Greece.

The Acropolis

When visiting a country for the first time, there are things you expect and thing you don’t expect. For instance, I knew that Greece has many feral cats. I didn’t expect there to be so many, however. It’s difficult to walk around the Athens/Piraeus area without seeing several. There are many on the islands, as well, but some of them didn’t seem to have very many.

Piraeus cat lounging on an outside chair

The cats of Greece are mostly feral strays and are not friendly toward people. They will run from you if you get too close and will not approach you unless you have food. You will see food and water dishes all over the place, as the strays are considered to be “community cats.” The reason there are so many is because there was no concerted effort to spay or neuter cats until Greece joined the European Union. It’s also easy for them to survive here, due to the mild weather and kindness of strangers.

Piraeus cats eating near an abandoned building

I have not been able to find out if the cats are cared for medically, however. I saw many that had been injured in fights, missing eyes and ears. I saw one with multiple tumors on its head and another that walked with a disjointed gait. It is difficult to take a pet cat to the vet, let alone a feral one. The people of Greece really seem to care for them, although on the surface the cats appear to be ignored. Tourists seem more interested in them than the locals, but they don’t see them every day.

It took me several days to figure out why Greeks honked their car horns apparently for no reason. When I saw a cat dart under a car that was getting ready to pull out, I figured it out.

Battle-hardened kitty, Hydra

Of course, Athens has many ancient ruins. Cats love to hang out there, as does the occasional turrle.

Cats also love to hang out in more recent ruins. There are many abandoned, dilapidated, crumbling buildings all over Greece.

Abandoned building in Piraeus

It costs so much to inherit a property in Greece that the beneficiaries of these buildings don’t accept them, because they can’t afford it. It’s sad to see so many of these old buildings just crumbling to the ground because of governmental bureaucracy and high taxes. But unless something changes, this is going to continue to happen.

Abandoned villa in Athens, near the Acropolis

It’s not just Greece, however. Many European countries are in the same boat, their manors, villas, castles, chateaus, etc., all abandoned because no one can afford to keep them. So much of the world’s history is being lost because of this.

I did see, however, a few of these buildings being restored, but they are so few and far between.

Stairs to nowhere, Hydra
Elia, Mykonos
Heraklion, Crete
Rethimno, Crete
Santorini
Naxos
Ermoupoli, Syros Island

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