In my last post, I summarized quickly the first week of my recent two week work trip, which took place in Joensuu, Finland. The second week took place in Greece, and there was so much history and beauty packed into that trip that I will have to spend a few posts to describe it all.
But before I get to some specifics about the island of Spetses where the workshop took place, I have to describe the effort it took to get there! My flight left Joensuu for Helsinki at 2:00 pm; landing in Helsinki at 3:05 pm, I then waited for a 5:10 pm flight to London. I arrived in London at 6:15 pm (though in a time-zone two hours earlier), and waited for an 8:50 pm flight to Athens. The flight to Athens did not land until 2:25 am the next day.
From there, I had a bit of a wait. No trains were running, so I had to wait around the airport, sitting on a bench for about 3 hours, until I could get a ticket for the 6:09 am suburban train to the port of Piraeus.
The train took an hour to get to port, arriving at 7:09 am precisely. Then I had to wander the port to figure out where my high-speed boat to Spetses was departing from at 8:00 am.
Spetses was the last stop for the boat, after 3 others. It arrived at 10:25 am, at which point I had to track down a taxi to take me the last half-mile to my lodging. I think I finally settled into a bed to rest at around 11:30 am; considering I left my hotel in Joensuu for the airport at around the same time, I was traveling almost 24 hours straight.
This may seem like bad travel planning on my part, but when I was booking my air travel, this itinerary was less expensive than every other option by about $2,000. So I opted to suck it up. In the end, it was kinda fun in a twisted way to power through that many connections over such a long period, but I’ll be happy to not do it again anytime soon.
Anyway: my destination was Spetses, a small and lovely island with a permanent population of about 4,000 people. It has excellent beaches, friendly people, great restaurants and lovely views.
I’ll share a lot more photographs of Spetses in a follow-up post, but what I really wanted to share today are photos of all the glorious cats that live there. I didn’t realize that Spetses, and many parts of Greece in general, is filled with kitties. On my first walk to town after settling into my lodging, I came across a few cats chilling out in the heat of the day.
Lots of the kitties were hanging out around and in dumpsters. Apparently the feral cats of Spetses have adapted to a scavenger lifestyle, and one that is tolerated, if not endorsed, by the locals.
That first night I was particularly blessed, because I happened to be walking along the main road when one of the locals went by to feed them. Apparently this is a regular routine for the cats, who were all lined up and waiting for their friend to drop by.
I honestly wanted to be his friend as well! I was hoping to run into him again later in the week to see if I could donate to the cause, but it wasn’t to be. But I did get to see lots of cats along his route that first night.
Lots of cats.
Lots and lots of cats.
Overall the cats seemed to be in pretty good health. They seemed to sleep a lot during the day — sometimes in the middle of walkways — and come out at night to scam food out of the tourists.
I experienced this in person the next night, when I ate at a lovely beachside restaurant but found myself a new friend.
The kitty was so adorable that I ended up giving about 1/4 of my food — halloumi and chicken kabobs — to him/her. After the feeding began, the kitty got a bit more bold and I had to give him/her a bit of gentle chiding.
What surprised me is that the restaurant apparently is okay with the cats being around and begging for food. In fact, I was really surprised the next evening, when I walked by the restaurant and realized that a whole family of cats hangs out there!
Other shops seem to take care of their own cats. One small grocery had quite a few cats that would hang out, or nap, right outside the door.
There was such an incredible variety of cats on the island! The following two photos are of a kitty that had the cutest, strangest face I’ve ever seen.
Though the cats’ behavior was very familiar.
There are many more photos of cats I could share, but I will just add one more, that reminded me of my cats Rascal and Daisy.
I hope you enjoyed this brief photo essay of the cats of Spetses! Let me close this post with one bit of scenery, to give an idea of how gorgeous the island is. I’ll have more to share in the next post…