Athens, Greece: Here There Be Cats



In my next life, I want to come back as a cat. Sleeping in the sun, having my whiskers stroked, chasing butterflies, that would suit me just fine. Also, I’d be athletic and curious and have nine lives. Although coming back as a cat has crossed my mind before, where to come back as a cat hadn’t until we visited Athens.

The cats looked for safety when the early-birds charged the Acropolis for photos – photo: PK

When you visit Athens it’s mandatory that you go see the Acropolis with its iconic Parthenon. Of course, everybody knows that, so it is far from the private experience we had at Butrint. See Pat’s last post.

In an effort to avoid the crowds, we followed our own general advice and arrived at the entrance to the Acropolis a little bit before opening time. There weren’t too many early-birds, maybe thirty or forty. We milled about while the military personnel prepared for the raising of the flag and went through their uniform inspections. Is that a pledge pin?! Cats went through the gates with no one’s notice — no lines for the felines.



When the gates opened we scrambled up the steps with the others to get a view of the Parthenon before there was a sea of selfie-stick people in front of it. As the first wave of us moved in, cats bolted in all directions to secret locations behind the barriers and scaffolding. The little buggers were free to explore places we weren’t permitted to tread.

The Parthenon was impressive — though mostly buried under scaffolding. My favorite structure was the Erechtheion. Its asymmetrical design and columns carved as women made it pleasing to the eye. It was right next to the Parthenon, but we had it to ourselves… along with the cats, for some great photo-ops.

The Parthenon! …under scaffolding : (


The cats and we thought the Erechtheion was the gem

Vertigo Cures Dehydration

When the massive tour groups arrived about an hour later, and selfie-sticks went into full bloom, it was time for us to explore the less crowded north and south slopes. It was worth the effort, but hot and thirsty business. Wear good shoes and a hat, take plenty of water, and map out a route to Mr. Vertigo ahead of time.

Mr. Vertigo? Who’s he? When you go to Greece you must taste the Greek wines. Mr. Vertigo is a wine shop with great selection and knowledgeable staff. We were in the mood for a nice, cold, white so we were fitted with an Assyrtiko.  It is a lovely dry, white wine that tastes a bit of dirt… okay, earthy if you prefer. Perfect when served cold on a hot day.

VinoLunch in the National Garden with a crisp and earthy Assyrtiko


A well-preserved mosaic just hanging out in the National Garden for anyone to see

VinoLunch in the Park

We tucked the nicely chilled bottle into the day-pack, picked up a couple of sandwiches at a nearby bakery, then wandered into the National Garden. The National Garden (map) was a large central park with lots of benches under great shade trees. It boasted lakes, a small zoo, excavated ruins with nearly complete mosaic floors, and, of course, ample spots for a VinoLunch. The cats seemed happy with the park too since we saw a few casually going about kitty business.


Sharing Dinner

Not all of our meals were taken on a park bench, though those were some of my favorites. On a few occasions, we went to TPAM (Tram). They did excellent meat on the grill and were located right across from the Neo Kozmos metro station. If you are ever in Athens and get hungry, it’s a good choice, and it was also very close to our outstanding Airbnb accommodation.

While waiting for our meals, we saw a cat winding its way through the legs of the occupied tables outdoors. I hope the waiter doesn’t scare him into the street! The waiter ignored the cat. Patrons threw him bits of meat from their plates. This wasn’t the only time we noticed diners at restaurants sharing their food with the kitties.

Fish art


Marvelous Markets

Having checked the Acropolis off of our to-do list, it was time for the serious sights; the meat, fish, and veggie markets. We love food almost as much as wine and the markets did not disappoint. The meat and fish markets were clean and well-lit. The offerings were proudly displayed in refrigerated glass cabinets or on ice. The butchers all seemed to have a sense of humor, hamming it up with their big cleavers raised at passers-by. The fishmongers were a little more laid-back, but possibly a bit OCD, some of their displays were amazingly intricate works of art. Of course, cats went where they wished and were well-fed on scraps and offal.

Pat making friends with an Albanian butcher… after he set the cleaver down


The two-piece band

Unexpected Entertainment

Without warning, a two-piece band set up in the meat market and a troupe of people in traditional dress showed up. The aisle between the meat counters was cleared to make space and a grill full of sausages smoked nearby. The dancers took the ‘stage’ and danced in the traditional way to the sounds of the two-piece band and the mouth-watering scent of meat on the grill. We were entertained. The cats were sated and pleased. It was an unexpected, but very Athenian, way to spend the afternoon.

Not Your Grandad’s Metro

Speaking of unexpected but very cool, you can see many archaeological exhibits for free in Athens. When the subway tunnels were built, shovelful after shovelful of dirt revealed bits of history. Quite a few of the subway stations have displays of the ruins or artifacts found during construction. They’re museum quality exhibits and free to the public. Our favorite stations were: Acropoli (the stop for the Acropolis), Syntagma (the stop for the National Garden and Mr. Vertigo), and Monastiraki.

Museums in the subway stations!

We had a splendid four days in Athens. It isn’t a one-dimensional city that’s only about the ruins. Of course, it has some of the most memorable ruins on the planet, but there are nice parks, outstanding wine, good food, and markets. When I come back as a cat, I’m going to Athens where I can go where I please and people feed me food fit for themselves. I’ll just need to figure out how to operate a corkscrew with my paws.

Hike Drink Live Laugh

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2 thoughts on “Athens, Greece: Here There Be Cats

  1. Your photos of Athens are very fascinating ! Especially liked the ancient garden mosaic, the Erechtheion and the Parthenon (in that order). I was wondering if you tasted the fish there ?
    I’ll bet there are many different varieties to choose from. Did you eat any that was a favorite ?

    • Hi Ronne! Yes, we ate a lot of seafood. I love salted and grilled whole sardines. We had them at the fish market. They were very fresh and grilled nicely. The grilled squid was also very tasty. Pat is an octopus guy, but I don’t think we had any in Athens.

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