Opa!

Well, this past week has been another one from the chronicles of “whose life is this anyhow?”

Hello Greece.

I spent last week on another work trip, this time to Athens for a massive international shipping exhibition. This is the trip I’ve been fretting for some time, knowing that the timing could be quite tragic given my recent geriatric condition. As the trip drew nearer, I watched the forecast obsessively, and increased my selection of sleeveless tops  accordingly. I packed with the knowledge that 2-3 wardrobe changes per day might be necessary as I sweat my way from one event to the next.

This is what cruelty looks like.

I am proud to say that I did not embarrass myself as badly as expected. I was so afraid that I would become increasingly repulsive and need to be discreetly removed from our work functions. But God-bless the invention of AC. Things unravel quickly when something goes wrong with the AC, but thankfully that happened only a few times.

I arrived in Athens last Sunday and went directly to the exhibition hall to oversee the completion of our booth build. It was our first non-AC moment and introduction that smoking indoors is still totally a thing in Greece. Gross.

An exhibition like no other. The Greek shipping industry boasts the highest number of billionaires. It was evident.
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My little home for 8 hours a day for the week.
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If I weren’t there for work, this scene would have been an option. A few minutes walk from the hotel.
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Took a quick moment to capture some of the gorgeous flowers.
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Our first dinner at the end of our arrival day.
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While not at the exhibition, this was my view. The sea to the right and a private airport to the left, for the aforementioned billionaires.
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The marina across the road from the hotel. Wee itty-bitty boats compared to others we’d see.
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So surprising to see green grass at the tram tracks in a place otherwise so barren and dry.
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Beer tastes so good in hot climates. Hydrating was critical in the heat.
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When in Greece…so yummy.
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And so it officially begins. When I showed this photo to Manolo he immediately asked “are you one of those girls?” I told him yes, allowing him to believe that it wasn’t my mind that had landed me there.

The ladies of Posidonia

 

A model of one of our engines, courtesy of a booth from the China State Shipping Corporation.
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These are the ships my company designs engines for. This one is for the record books. Our engine will power the largest container ships ever built.
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A creative image of my colleagues and I in our booth. The animation was necessary as our very first AC malfunction had happened enroute to the exhibition. Treanne and I got trapped in a cab for 30 minutes without AC. Evidently the only cab in all of Greece without AC. We had to have all the windows down as far as they could go just to stop sweating. I was in the back seat. My once professional looking hair was sacrificed. I arrived the proverbial hot-mess.
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The greeted at the end of day 1 by these fine gents.
This is what made each morning something to look forward to. In Greece it is far too hot to drink your coffee hot so the whole country has embraced the Fredo. My choice each morning was a cappuccino fredo. Heaven. And very, very necessary.
Greece was having its own hot flash – evidently it was unseasonably warm. So warm in fact that we lost power at the exhibition for two hours on the first full day. I thought it was hilarious and thoroughly enjoyed the fact that a major malfunction had happened and there was nothing I could do to fix it. I stopped laughing when it was pointed out that the AC was now off and things would start to get warm. Boy did they ever.
Even in just the emergency lighting, they kept feeding us. This mystery was placed on our counter part way through the black-out.
Massive loaf of bread, hollowed out and turned into many mini sandwiches. Seemed like a good idea at first and then it turned into a gross communal, hands digging, food poisoning episode in the making. Shudder…
Not something you see every day…just a submarine, passing your bus. No big deal.

The week’s schedule consisted of 8 hour days at the exhibition, followed by an intense social calendar as well. No evening event began earlier that 9:30 which for this light-weight, was something to dread.

Until I arrived at our first evening and realized, oh, this may not be dreadful afterall.  A dinner at a private home to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the home-owner’s business. It was like something out of a movie.
No one fell in the pool while I was there. But I did leave early, in true lightweight style, and slipped out at 1:30.

 

Spectacular entertainment all through dinner.

In what had turned out to be the third food-stealing incident of the day, in the middle of dinner, a server came along and removed my plate, well before I had finished. It was the weirdest thing. My dinner companions carried along with their meal while I sat there like a scorned child. (Previous incident that day had been an exhibition looky-loo reaching across our counter and stealing my burger right off my plate while I was having lunch and. Super weird.)
Thankfully the next morning, this awaited us at our booth. Each and every morning. It was rough.
Day three we left the booth at the end of the day and proceeded to the social event hosted by Japan. The sushi was amazing.
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Greek art, I think.
Party location for evening number 3. This one started at 11:00, heaven help me.
Don’t let this serene setting fool you. This was a full-on night club known as The Island Club & Bar. Like being 21, all over again, except with menopause. Awesome.   www.islandclubrestaurant.gr

Just like I remember nightclubs, except for the over-looking the Aegean Sea part. Despite the seemingly serene nature of this video it was super crowded, too hot, smoky and impossible to have a conversation. We knew within 30 minutes of being there that we wanted out. But then my boss texted to say we needed to come to the VIP area…

Even the VIP area was hot and crowded. This party had VIP like you’ve never seen before. Within the VIP section there was a roped off area for the billionaires. Young partying shipping heirs like, Paris Latsis, who was engaged to Paris Hilton. Insanity

Lucky for us, above the billionaire section was a secret VIP space that no one knew about. Finding this space was what made it possible to stay. It went from night-club purgatory to bliss, pretty darn quick. And we had the whole space to ourselves for hours.

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How this space remained empty is a mystery to me. There were table of “help yourself” booze everywhere. Luckily there was loads of water too. Getting wasted in front of my co-workers has never been my thing. Right up there with being in a swimsuit among co-workers. Both those rules were strongly challenged on this trip but I succeeded, with the exception of one unfortunate pool incident. 

Thank goodness for this space. It made being out until 3:30 am actually quite enjoyable.

In between moments of lovely, atmosphere enhancing music, were huge stage shows including the Eurovision star, “the Beyonce of Greece” we were told, Helena Paparizou. It was really loud.

I’m really old. And too hot.

Day 4 we just couldn’t take any more late nights so we bailed on the evening event and came to a quiet tavern by the sea. After the relentless late nights this was the most heavenly experience of my life.
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Yum. So fresh. And the tzatziki gave us breath that could peel wallpaper. So good.

The cats of Greece, hanging out with us at supper. Clever kitty.

Watching the sun set over the Aegean Sea.

Our final full day in Athens was super rough. I had to tour 5 star hotels and restaurants to select the location and itinerary of a conference we are hosting back here in October. I’m not sure how I survived the day. It was fairly awful.

The first hotel – The Margi, where we had breakfast to sample their buffet. (Pronounced as in Warren Buffett by non-native English speakers. tee hee.) www.themargi.gr
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Hmmmm, pretty. Lead on…
I mean, I guess this would be a nice place to spend some time…
Only if you’re into that whole boutique hotel, world class spa sort of thing.
Farewell to The Margi and into downtown Athens for the next stop.

A little bit of ambiance along the way.

Our lunch location, again, because we had to sample the menu. The view was alright too.
A little Greek decor while waiting for the ride to our next destination.
Another hotel choice. The view from the conference room. Meh…
Hotel option number 4, in case we thought that overlooking the Acropolis was getting a little old. (get it? tee hee.) Pool on the right is warmed water straight from the ocean, left is typical pool water. It’s important to have options.
Clearly this hotel was my favourite.
The setting for our afternoon coffee and dessert to sample yet another restaurant. I tell you, it was such a hard day.
More pretty decor.
It was alright, I guess…
The cool kids were at the airport.
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Until next time Greece… It was nearly 19 years ago to the day that I was here for the very first time, (crazy, right Rach!?) and in exactly 4 short months I’ll be back. 

It’s okay to hate me a little after this post. I would, if I were you.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. gottasew says:

    Happy Birthday  Anna! Thanks for allowing us to share the exotic travels benefits that go with your job. I think I would be 90kg if I were in your shoes, I love to eat. Friday it was 29C and we golfed but today it was 4C, rainy and very windy, a stay in the house day.  Have a wonderful birthday, Anna. Hugs, Auntie Carol and Jim Sent from my Galaxy Tab® E

    Like

  2. Elisabeth Garcia says:

    Which hotel did you choose?

    Like

  3. Elisabeth Garcia says:

    Which hotel did you choose?

    Like

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