Visiting Athens, part 1: delays, snow and language

In February of this year, I was in Athens for an IEEE ad hoc meeting. I have wanted to visit Athens for well more than a decade, and it was worth the wait. In a way, I’m glad that I made the trip after I bought a good camera and had some time to get used to it because I got much better results than if I were learning the camera on the trip.

Naturally, getting to Athens was not without a hitch, since I was transferring at one of the world’s worst airports, London Heathrow. (It could, however, be worse.) When I checked in, I received boarding passes for all three segments of my trip. After arriving in London, I checked the monitors, and found out that the London-Athens flight had been cancelled. Upon checking with customer service at the airline, I was told that the flight had been cancelled because of a snowstorm that had shut down the Athens airport.

My arrival in Athens was delayed by a day. By the time I arrived, the snow was melting quite rapidly, though I did get a few pictures of this unusual occurrence.

First stop, the Acropolis. Really, is there an alternative? At the foot of the Acropolis, approaching from the south, there was snow by the curb of the street, with the sun shining brightly on the Parthenon above:

Getting closer, you could peek through the gates of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, where some of the stones were still covered with a thin layer of snow:

When walking around, I felt an unexpectedly dumbstruck trying to read signs. Unlike, say, China or Japan, where I don’t expect to read anything except the Romanization on the street signs, I do know the Greek alphabet well enough to try reading the larger Greek signs most of the time. (I know the Greek alphabet from studying physics, not the language.) On-the-fly transliteration helped only to the extent that the word was close to a form that had been adopted into English directly, or words that were adopted in English through an intermediate language like Latin. It is hard to describe the feeling I got when I started to look for the “Εξοδος” on an exit sign rather than the “exit,” or when I realized the derivation of “agoraphobia” while looking at the open space of the Ancient Agora:

There is also a much smaller agora built by the Romans, also built around a central courtyard:

As I sort through pictures from the trip, I’ll be posting the best ones.

10 Responses to “Visiting Athens, part 1: delays, snow and language”

  1. Nikos says:

    I loved your comments and photos of Athens.
    I am a journalist and a Athenian. Thanks for sharing!
    Nikos
    vatop@otenet.gr

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