Behind the scenes in Athens, Pt. 2

(Continued from the previous week’s post)

After our nine-hour layover in Paris, the flight we did take to Greece was mostly full.  We were one of the last booked due to the schedule mishap, so we had middle seats.  Not the most comfortable situation.  As luck would have it, both the window and aisle seat in our row were booked. To our left sat a gentleman, probably close to our age or older. To our right, an older gentleman who was twice our size.  We thought to ourselves it was going to be an uncomfortable two hours.

We were not in the mood for conversation, but other plans were in the works. As we began taking off, the guy to our left began having some kind of asthmatic seizure.  He was making a commotion, grasping at his neck and nose. We had no idea he was having a seizure, but we knew something was happening.  Everyone around our aisle began looking at us with mild panic.  We could only imagine what they were thinking was going on.  After all, we were flying the same day of the terror bombings in Brussels!

Turns out the guy was having an allergic reaction to nail polish fumes a woman two aisles in front of us was using. The flight attendant had her put it away and in a short while, our seatmate was feeling better. The near-emergency served its purpose. It broke the ice between he and us.

Turned out this gentleman, his name is Savvas, was a senior Economist from the Obama Administration who now works for the European Commission. We hit it off, talking about US economic policy, European policy and Greek culture.  He asked why we were going to Greece. When we told him, his ears perked up.  Interestingly, at that time, the gentleman to our right also began leaning in, obviously interested in our conversation. Turns out this guy – Elias – is the Commercial Director of the largest beverage can manufacturer in the world (we flew economy class for those wondering). Elias also is an economist. The rest of the flight, the three of us had a lovely conversation about our speech, Copiosis and the event we were attending. They were returning to Athens on vacation. Turns out Greece was celebrating its independence that weekend. Both being Greek Citizens, they offered us many cultural points-to-know about the Greek economy. Particularly interesting points where Savvas’ and Elias’ explanations for why Greece failed to withdraw from the EU. It was a great two hour conversation.

Once on the ground, we discovered our hotel room had been booked beginning the next day meaning we had no room for the night.  That would ordinarily suck, but we figured it would all work out for the best. And it did…

As a result of the hotel mixup, we had the pleasure of meeting someone we’ll call Tikka (we’re not going to use his real name). The next day, we spent about an hour or so talking with Tikka about economics, our backgrounds and our reasons for attending the Z-Day event. Tikka then “kidnapped” us.  We spent the entire day walking Athens streets, visiting the Acropolis and getting a stunning birdseye view of the city from atop one of the taller buildings in the city. Thanks to Tikka, we learned a lot about Athens from the ground. During our day-long sojourn, Tikka told us all about his family life and his personal background, which was highly entertaining. He could make a movie based on his life!

As the day waned, we had become more than strangers and more than acquaintances. As we parted, Tikka told me he would listen to our speech from the standpoint of our friendship instead of some stranger from America talking about some strange idea…

(To be continued)


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