One of the things I love about my husband is his love for animals.
I had a few parakeets when growing up. One even talked! But I never had a cat or dog. It was Paul’s chubby and lovable gray and white tuxedo named Owen that conquered my heart overnight and turned me into a cat lover. As Owen was going into his senior years, we’d hire a cat sitter when we went away. Although I knew him to be in excellent hands, I missed him terribly and took every opportunity to connect with cats on my trips and snap photos.
And then we went on a Greece Untour. The Greeks don’t seem to believe in animal control, but they take care of their strays in their own ways. Restaurants routinely put out food scraps, locals feed them, and tourists do their part.
One beautiful day in September a few years ago, my husband and I took a day tip from our home base in Nafplio to the isle of Hydra in the Saronic Gulf, a most picturesque car-free island where donkeys are the means of transportation and old men sit in harbor cafes playing backgammon all day.
I could not stop taking pictures of the white-washed houses with the colorful window frames and doors, of the vivid bougainvillea against the brilliant white of the walls and the blue of the sky. Hydra is a little bit like heaven. And fittingly, it is home to many cats.
After a stop at a little harbor cafe watching the colorful boats bobbing in the water and goods being unloaded onto donkeys, we were ready for some exploration.
We were climbing up stairs and came round a bend when I spotted a group of cats. I called out in delight to my husband, and suddenly a woman appeared in her doorway and had a look on her face that seemed to convey “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
She made a clicking sound that must have been music to cats’ ears, and felines came running from every direction. She tossed out bread, and they gobbled it up happily. Although we could not communicate, I beamed at her, and she smiled back. We had connected.
My advice: Visit Hydra on a Greek Untour, especially if you are cat lover. And bring your camera!