Greece Visit Part 2

island 1

Read Part 1 Here

Archimedes & Eureka:

So, what is the story of Eureka? King Hiero ordered a new Crown to be made for him so he gave a block of pure Gold to a goldsmith. When the new crown was presented to him, King became suspicious that goldsmith had mixed some cheaper metal in it and saved some gold for himself. He ordered Archimedes to find out if the crown was made with pure gold on not without harming its shape. Archimedes was puzzled but he started pondering on the issue. One day while taking bath he realised that while he lowered his body into tub full of water, some water spilled over. He realised when an object is lowered into water, equal amount of water is displaced. And so, if crown was pure gold, water displaced by crown must be the same as of same amount of pure gold. Archimedes was so thrilled on discovering this that he ran in streets naked shouting ‘Eureka’ (means ‘I found it’). By the way, water displaced by the Crown & pure Gold were not the same.. L. And history is silent about what happened to goldsmith afterwards.

Story in Pictures
Story in Pictures

Arrival

Flight went smoothly and soon we were preparing to land at Athens International Airport. It is a relatively new built and started its operations in 2001. Arrival area is a bit of disappointment. Kids felt as they have arrived in Pakistan. To be fair it was better than Pakistan but definitely worse than Western Europe. Surprisingly Departures area is admirable – spic & span.

Hot air hit our faces as soon as we walked out of airport building. Oh my God, it was as hot as it would be in Pakistan in summer. It was not possible to walk outside especially if you are arriving from a cold country. My uncle had warned be beforehand but I didn’t take it seriously. L… We took a bus to Piraeus, a seaport town of Athens. An hour’s journey and we were there. Luckily the flat was fully air-conditioned! Rest of the day was spent relaxing.

Athens Glory by Night
Athens Glory by Night

Next day we headed to the centre of Athens to start sightseeing. Let me introduce you to recent Greece first.

Greece:

Greece is situated in South of Europe and is a member of European Union. Currency used to be Drahma but was replaced by Euro in 2001. It has more than 2000 islands out of which 227 are inhabited. Greece’s population is approx. 11 Million. Almost all are Orthodx Christians. Majority of Greek land is mountainous.

Greece was conquered by Roman Empire and then remained so till mid fifteenth century when it was conquered by the Ottoman Khilafah. It emerged as an independent country in current shape around 1830s. Greece has parliamentary democratic government.

Economy – Then & Now:

Greece is a modern & developed country. It had quite strong economy based on tourism, shipping and manufacturing (predominantly garments) which Greece exported mainly to Europe. But emergence of China has completely eradicated the manufacturing industry, so much so that only 12% income is generated from this sector now.

Rich & Poor
Rich & Poor

Tourism was the biggest contributor to economy. Tourists from all over the world were attracted to Greece thanks to Sea, Sun, Superb Food, history and cheap prices. But introduction of Euro made everything too expensive for locals as well as tourists so many tourists prefer Turkey which is a lot cheaper. Rest of the destruction came via IMF & World Bank. Huge debts at very high interest rates have broken the Greek economy now. Country suffered great economic crisis around 2008 and it has deepened since. High unemployment, high taxes, high living prices, pension cuts, job cuts; unthinkable austerity measures has lead Greece society to brink of breakdown & bankruptcy – Thank you IMF, Thank you Capitalism, Thank you Greed – Select Rich enjoying at the cost Many Poor.

A Church in Piraeus
A Church in Piraeus

Bachelor Migrants:

There was abundance of labour work in 80s. A huge number of Pakistanis mainly from Gujrat & surroundings (& other nationalities too) immigrated legally & illegally by road via Turkey. Greek law doesn’t grant nationality even one lives here for long. So virtually all the immigrants stayed here as bachelors; there are only handful of Pakistani (or any other migrant) families live here. Many of the migrants have gone back now since there are no jobs.

Soldiers in Syntagma Sq
Soldiers in Syntagma Sq

Many years ago my brother & I visited Greece. One day we were walking in a street in Piraeus. We met an Indian young man in 20s. We asked him what brought him here. He replied, to find some work. So what brought you here, he enquired? We came to visit Greece, we replied. Visit? He was surprised. Yes, visit, we smiled. But he didn’t believe us and responded, surely you came looking for work, or perhaps you will move on to Western Europe. He didn’t believe us.

To be continued…

Greece Visit Part 1

There was no plan to travel during this year’s summer holidays but as the holidays approached, kids started persuading me to go for one! And being “loving dad” I obliged! Most tourist places were booked and prices for remaining places were sky-rocketing. Greece seemed an obvious choice with sensible prices. It had been on my list since long. Economic crisis & uncertain situation would surely mean less tourists and hence low prices. This is the time I thought so I booked the flights & an apartment.

Greece: Sun, Sea, Ship & Islands
Greece: Sun, Sea, Ship & Islands

I have been to Greece, known as Unaan in Urdu, many time in past; first time in 1992 and last time only 12 years ago.  For me Greece equals History, Sea, Ships, islands, Beaches, Olives, Feta cheese, lovely food, beautiful friendly people & two of my uncles who migrated there since I was a child.

Late as Ever

Soon we were packing our bags. Our flight was 7.25 pm so I was confident that no way will we be late but kids beat me on this! Despite working the whole day on packing etc, it was nearly 5.45 pm and we had not left home. Eventually we sat in the car & made our way to airport. And then came the rain; traffic grew on motorway bringing speed to almost crawling. It was only an hour left when we reached airport. We rushed to check-in area. I started check-in on a self-service machine; typed-in all the details, scanned all the passports which took me nearly  5 mins, and at the last step machine declared “check-in not possible, contact staff”. Time was too short by now. If we had not cleared the security 35 mins prior to flight time, we will not be allowed to take flight. I looked around panicking; the queues at check-in counters were miles long; it was the start of summer holidays. One staff member somehow realised and asked me to come over to him (thank you so much whoever you are!). He quickly checked us in and we were on our way to security.

Greece Streets
Greece Streets

Extra Long Queues

Oh no, the queues at security were even longer than check-ins. Again, God helped us; a lady at security looked at our boarding passes. Realising we haven’t got much time she bypassed us through a special lane. Few minutes later we were running towards the gate to board the flight. The way our flight was arranged that we had a night’s stay at Schiphol airport Amsterdam in CitizenM Hotel. The hotel is just outside airport building so we walked to it leisurely.

CitizenM Hotel
CitizenM Hotel

It turned out to be such a lovely & modern hotel! All high tech – there were no buttons. Instead all lightening, air conditioning, TV, window curtains etc were controlled by an iPad Tablet. Kids were over the moon; they happily spent their night playing the gadgets. Only weird thing was the nearly “See-through toilet and shower” (see photo).

And next morning we were again queuing up at airport, this time for Athens!

Ancient Greece

So, what is Greece and who are Greeks? Greeks are one of the oldest & most influential civilisations among Chinese, Egyptians and Romans (click on names to read my travel-logs to these places). Alexander the Great, Aristotle, Arts, Architecture, Democracy, Olympics, Philosophy, Science; there is a long list that humanity owe to Greeks. Let me take you back in history. There is evidence that humans lived here around 7000 years BC. The Greeks as a nation rose to fame around 2700 BC. There are a number of ancient Greek personalities that left lasted impact on human civilisation.

Ancient Christian Monastery
Ancient Christian Monastery

Note: BC refers to “Before Christ (Jesus AS). Jesus (Eesa AS) was present around 2000 years ago from now. So 300BC would mean approximately 2300 years ago from now (2015).

  1. Alexander the Great (356 BC, also known as Sikander-e-Azam). No, he was not a Muslim as some believe. He was born in Macedonia but somehow Greeks consider him one of them. Alexander conquered a vast amount of land of about 2 Million Square Miles in short time covering from Middle Europe, Egypt to Punjab. People of Kailash (Kafiristan) are considered to be descendants of Greek soldiers of Alexander’s army. Greek government has established some schools & charity organisations here which support this theory.
  2. Archimedes (287 BC, known as Arsh-meedas): A great mathematician, inventor & philosopher, he is credited to invent lever, pulley, catapult and famous “Archimedes Principle” after which he ran naked shouting ‘Eureka’ (Story to follow).
  3. Socrates (470BC, known as Suqraat): One of the most known philosophers of the history. Some of the saying attributed to him are:
    • The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing
    • I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think
    • Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us

4. Plato (427BC, known as Aflatoon): A great Philosopher & thinker, he was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle.

5. Aristotle (384BC, known as Arastu): Great Philosopher & Scientist. He was the teacher of Alexander.

The list goes on but I would stop here and tell the story of ‘Eureka’ & Naked Archimedes:

To be continued… Read Part 2 Here