Thursday, April 14, 2011

Facepage and Webbook


That's how tired I was by Wednesday evening when talking with my boss. Facepage and webbook - they sound kind of convincing, don't they? Mind you, she was not at all convinced that there is a dinosaur called Barry (baryonyx walkeri actually). I have no idea how we ended up talking about dinosaurs - it was late and we were on the bus from North terminal to South. Which was a bit mad really. Our flight was from South terminal Gatwick, but we had been emailed by Squeezyjet that it was changed to North. So we parked at North. And were then told it was South. So we took the Gatwick hornby train set to South and did catch our flight to Athens. But on the way back our flight was delayed, so it landed at North and we were unloaded and put on a bus to South. So we got off at South, picked up our luggage, and got the train back to North. And then, driving out, went past South again. The amount of times we'd gone between the two terminals for just two flights ... felt like we'd travelled halfway to Greece.

We'd pulled two rather long days by this time so our conversation was starting to sound a little surreal, and still with a two hour car journey ahead. No worries, though - in the mood for Abba (but none available) we were kept awake instead with loud French rap music. Of course, what else? But having taken you to and from Athens in just a couple of paragraphs, perhaps I should fill in the bit in the middle which was a business trip for a networking event in Athens. The University I work for has networking events all over the place - there was one last month in Hong Kong which my colleague went to and next month I get to go to Southend too! But this time it was Athens, to the land of fabulous ancient architecture and, as it happens, my first sight of a modern European shanty town. The financial situation in Greece is difficult as we know, but I guess it's diferent when you see it with your own eyes, in Europe (not some far away African country as we are used, and immunised - not immune - to). That was a very small part of our trip though. The purpose of our trip was the social event with our alumni.

We arrived in Athens after waking at 4.30am to leave at 5 and catch a 9am flight. So we started our day tired - but also didn't have a lot of rest time as we had to time shift two hours forward on arrival. No problem: metro from airport to hotel, enough time for a change of clothes and then off to the venue by taxi. Unfortunately lots of registered delegates did not turn up, but fortunately lots of those who hadn't, did. But this did mean the hand-writing of many badges with long and complicated Greek names. Thankfully we had a colleague with us, Maria, who is native Greek. Otherwise I think I could have proably totally screwed up the spelling of so many Greek names as to have invented a new language. The event went well and thankfully did not finish too late. There was nice food and drink and lots of good talk and socialising - exactly what we wanted. After the event we went back to the hotel (boss, myself and Maria) and had our debrief camped on Maria's bed with tin trays full of take-away leftovers from the buffet. An odd 'hotel picnic'. Plenty of laughter though, that always helps round things off nicely. I slept like a log and awoke fresh and ready for action at 8.00am. First thing I had to do was call and re-arrange a meeting that I had got completely the wrong day for. But it was ok. Day two of our mini-Greek odyssey began. And that, I think, will be another chapter.



Picture: even the Metro stations have ancient monuments in them - this is one that is showcased in the station where they dug up a Roman watercourse.

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