June 2022 - Traveling Cats - Travel Pictures of Cats

Cats from Petra {Lesbos}

Petra rock church

Only a five-minutes drive from the magical town of Molyvos on Lesbos island, you will encounter the beautiful coastal village of Petra

Petra (the Greek word for "stone") acquired its name because of the steep rock of 27 meters high, which emerges amidst the houses in the center of the village. 

Petra Lesbos

Petra restaurant 

Perched on top of the rock is the church of the Virgin Mary Glykofilousa

There are 114 steps to get up. Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with panoramic views of Petra, the Aegean Sea, and the nearby isles of Agios Georgios and Psira.

best things to do in Lesbos

cat Petra

The picturesque village of Petra is well-known amongst visitors of Lesbos island. 

With many streets being closed off to vehicles, the village specifically caters to those who are on foot. 

Lesbos Petra

Petra stray cats

Tucked into the alleyways are plenty of traditional souvenir shops, as well as cozy cafes and tavernas where you can taste traditional small bites, fresh fish, and the famous Ouzo of the island

Kantina Petra Lesbos
restaurant Petra Lesbos

Several streets in the center of Petra are shaded by overhanging flowers and plants, which helps greatly against the heat.

Petra Lesbos
cats of Petra

One restaurant that is not to be missed is the Women's Cooperative

Founded in 1983 by 24 women (with the help of the Council for Sexual Equality, the Prefecture of Lesbos, and the Greek Organization for Tourism), the Women's Cooperative was formed to increase the work and financial opportunities for women in the area, so they could be more independent.

Women's Cooperative Petra Lesbos 

The Women's Cooperative offers small apartments and studios to let, and they maintain a shop with Greek products and a restaurant where traditional food of the island is served.

If you can find a spot on one of the balconies of the restaurant, you'll have a great view over Petra and the Aegean sea.

best things to do in Lesbos Greece
women's cooperative lesbos

In front of the many ouzerias and tavernas, the beautiful beach of Petra, with its grey sand and clear azure blue waters, unfolds itself. 

Petra kat op strand

The bay that opens up in front of the village is protected by the two isles of Agios Georgios and Psira. When the sun sets between these two small islands, it colors the water with dozens of shades.

The beaches of Petra are amongst the most inviting of the entire island, with plenty of seaside cafés around to keep you hydrated and happy. 

Petra taverna
Petra Lesbos restaurant

The sun loungers on the beach are free for the customers of the cafés.

Petra strand

Petra is one of the most charming and versatile villages on Lesbos island, so be prepared that you will most likely want to come back once you've set foot there.

I love this cat

Petra cat

Petra adopt cats

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Petra at night

Text and photos by Vanessa Morgan

Photo 18 by Stephan Jankovic

Petra cats

Cats from Skala Sykaminia {Lesbos}

Skala Sykaminia

The little port village of Sykaminia is one of the most popular destinations on the Greek island of Lesbos, and for good reason. It is crowded with colorful fishing boats and a small boardwalk lined with waterfront restaurants and tavernas. 

Skala Sykaminia fishing boats

Skala Sykaminia port

The first thing you will notice in Skala Sykaminia are the large number of community cats

From the moment you get out of the car or boat, you will see them patiently waiting for the fishermen to share their catch, or trying out their luck at the restaurants, attempting to snatch some fish from unsuspecting tourists.

Skala Sykaminia restaurants
cat stealing food

In addition to the cats, Skala Sykaminia’s highlight is the characteristic Church Panagia Gorgona (also called the Mermaid Madonna Church), situated on a large rock over the sea, looking out over the port, its fishing boats, and beyond to the coast of Turkey.

Church Panagia GorgonaSkala Sykaminia church

Sykaminia is also known to be the birthplace of the famous Greek writer Stratis Myrivilis, a three-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

Skala Sykaminia black cat

Myrivilis' best-known work, the 1949 novel The Mermaid Madonna, was named after the little whitewashed chapel and takes place in Skala Sykaminia. 

The village and its church owe much of their tourist fame to this book, which recounts how the Turks torched the coastal city of Smyrna (part of what is now the Turkish city of Izmir) in 1922 and how refugees arrived at the port of Sykaminia. 

Skala Sykaminia ginger cat

However, the most striking story in The Mermaid Madonna is that of a green-eyed girl who was found in a fishing boat, and who, according to local legend, was the daughter of a mermaid. 

Elsewhere in the book, Myrivilis describes how villagers began to worship a mural that a sea captain painted inside the church, depicting the Virgin Mary with a mermaid's tale. The painting disappeared from the church decades ago, if it even existed in the first place.

Since Myrivilis is famous for his descriptions of Sykaminia and the beauty of the island of Lesbos in general, reading his novel would be the perfect beach read prior to visiting the skala.

Skala Sykaminia taverna

Skala Sykaminia tavernas

Skala Sykaminia cats

The village can be "easily" reached by car (preferably a Jeep) by directly following a bumpy dirt road along the coastline, which goes from Efalou's hot springs to Skala Sykaminia. The road is only a few kilometers long, but the trip will take about half an hour because of the many pits and bumps along the way.

If this sounds like too much of an adventure, boat excursions from Molyvos or Petra to Skala Sykaminia are also an option.

Skala Sykaminia cats

Skala Sykaminia fishing village

Skala Sykaminia Lesbos

To this day, Skala Sykaminia is still the village of the mermaid, who works her charms to seduce tourists into visiting the port. 

The mermaid has certainly worked her magic on us. 

Or is it the cats of Sykaminia that are gently trying to lure us back?

stephan cat

Stephan cats

Text and photos by Vanessa Morgan

Photos 5, 16 and 17 by Stephan Jankovic

Lesbos Skala Sykaminia

island cats

Cats from Ordymnos {Lesbos}


This family of cats lives 634 meters above sea level, in the Monastery of Ypsilou (also known as Moni Ipsilou), on the western side of the Greek island of Lesbos. Their home is in every tourist guide, and they enjoy impressive views of the inland, stretching from the petrified forest to the seaside town of Sigri. 

Yet these cats live in their own peaceful world...

monastery kittens

The monastery is an oasis of greenery compared to its arid surroundings. It's a tranquil corner of paradise where they can sleep in the sunshine and enjoy the quietness that is so typical of remote monasteries (at least outside of the tourist season; the site livens up in July and August due to the voices of tourists).

Ypsilou Monastery

Ypsilou Monastery

It is believed that the building was founded in the 7th century by a monk who fled from Syria. Unfortunately, only fragments of the original construction of the Byzantine era have survived to this day, and very little is known about its early history. 

Ypsilou Monastery cats

lesvos kittens

momma cat 

What we do know is that by the end of the Byzantine period, the monastery was abandoned and destroyed. In the 16th century, the building was restored, and for some time it flourished, after which it was consumed by fire and rebuilt again. 

lesbos kittens

kittens lesbos

magical kittens

It is not uncommon for religious sites to provide shelter for stray cats (also check out the Monastery of Panagia Tourliani on Mykonosthe Jumping Cat Monastery of Myanmar, and the Arkadi Monastery of Crete).

adopt a cat lesbos

lesbos adopt cat

The feline newborns of the Monastery of Ypsilou are probably amongst the luckiest of Lesbos since they live far away from any danger and have enough drinking water thanks to the fountain in the courtyard.

monastery Ypsilou

cat mom kitten

They would be even luckier if someone could give them a real home (My boyfriend and I seriously considered adopting one or more of the kittens, except that they were still too young to be transported let alone be taken away from their mom. We had even given them names: Ouzo, Mythos, Retisina... just like the Greek drinks.).

ouzo lesbos

sylvestre cat

If you want to meet the cats of Ypsilou yourself, you have to take the car and drive up the steep and narrow road toward the top of the dormant volcano Ordymnos, on which the monastery is built. 

By the way, the name "Moni Ipsilou" was assigned to the monastery in the 18th century due to its location ("ypsilo" means "tall" in Greek). 

cat photobomb

A visit to the Ypsilou Monastery and its kittens can easily be combined with a trip to the nearby Petrified Forest Geopark and the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest in Sigri.

adopt a cat Lesvos

adorable kittens

Will you be visiting the Monastery of Ypsilou on Lesbos island? Would you consider adopting Ouzo and his brothers and sisters?

ouzo the cat

Text and photos by Vanessa Morgan

lesbos cats