I love cats; everybody who knows me know that.
When I backpacked solo in Europe for 70 days, I had to pay my neighbors for almost three months to feed my three cats at home. I have to admit I worried about the lack of feline company on my travels; how could I last so long without these beautiful creatures?
It turned out that I shouldn’t have worried. I met a lot of cats in Europe—Lemmy, Blanche, Mussel, and Chiminey in Belgium; Tamiro and Pedro in Hamburg; cutie Dormi in Budapest; Cinccina in Firenze; and yes, the countless cats I’ve seen, petted, and admired in Greece.
All the cats in Europe I’d seen were very fluffy and huggable. Unfortunately, most of them were not so friendly to strangers and would scratch, bite, or hiss whenever I would go near. Lemmy from Belgium was an exception. Because I stayed the longest there, he learned to tolerate me until I eventually gained his trust by lying still while he made me his living scratching post.
There were other memorable ones too. In Budapest, Hungary, Dormi’s human was out of town when I arrived (she was my Couchsurfing host) so it was Dormi who greeted me when I came in. I was in a funky mood around that time, so I mostly stayed in the apartment playing with her until my host arrived a few days later.
I’ve seen the most cats in Greece. I was walking towards the Acropolis in Athens when I saw a woman feeding 20 or so cats around her. “Here’s a real, live crazy cat lady,” I thought. Then I took it back, because she was really nice, feeding a lot of stray cats out of her own pocket. When you know that Greece is/was in financial crisis, you would understand how selfless her action had been.
I saw a lot in Santorini, too. While most were aloof, some would come when you call them. I don’t know if it’s their location, but they were the loveliest cats I’d seen in Europe.
The sweetest cat I’d met though was in Florence, Italy. I was staying with a Couchsurfing member whose 15th-century house had a huge yard (complete with fruit trees, sculptures, ponds, and turtles), lots of rooms, ancient furnishings, dozens of oil paintings and a couple of chandeliers. He had a black cat named Cincinna who slept beside me at night and who had to be tickled to wake up in the mornings. I missed her a lot when I moved on to Padova, Venezia, and Verona.
I was really grateful to my friends and Couchsurfing hosts for letting me share their cats with them. Backpacking solo for 70 days in a foreign continent is definitely not easy. I got homesick for a while and wanted to go home. If not for the cats I’d met along the way, my trip wouldn’t have been as memorable!