An unexpected encounter.
I was sat on the marble steps halfway up the hill between Athens and the Parthenon. Vertigo prevented me from continuing to the top. Sat there alone as my friend became immersed in the throng of people walking towards the UNESCO world heritage site. Silently sat in the beautiful February sunshine with the whole of Athens below me, my eyes, however, were not on the scenery as a handsome stranger made his way through the other tourists towards me. He wasn't beautiful in the traditional sense, but I thought he was very handsome as he got next to me, he immediately sat on the steps next to me. With language being a barrier, I offered him the bottle of water I had, he gratefully accepted it. I knew this was going to be a fleeting meeting and it was going to be impossible to see him again, so we just sat there quietly and enjoyed each other’s company. As I did not know his name, I thought of Hercules based on his stature.
With Hercules sat quietly by my side, I began to realise the true plight of Hercules' situation. I noticed many others like him wandering around aimlessly being ignored by the throng of people walking towards the main attraction ahead. Hercules was a true hero in my eyes. A beautiful dog, desperate for affection and companionship. All too soon my friend returned from her visit to the historical monument of ancient Greece. She also was in awe of Hercules. We spent as long as we could with our new friend and with a final stroke of his head, we had to leave him. With heavy hearts, we wandered back down to Athens, the main conversation over a brew (I do not recall if the quality of the tea was satisfactory, my head was consumed with thoughts of Hercules) at the nearest street cafe, was a discussion about the possibility of getting Hercules back to the UK. I remember thinking its all greek to me, how can it be acceptable that all these dogs are stray and have been all but abandoned by humans. A conversation with the waiter offered some reassurance about the dogs. They are adopted by the state and have veterinary care as necessary and are fed regularly by the local business owners. Small consolation, however, the realisation that it was not realistically possible to bring Hercules home with me had me reaching for hot chocolate and cake. Sometimes, Tea is just not enough.