Athens, Greece, May 2005
By: William R. Cotton

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Began the long flight to Athens on Lufthasa at 5:30PM arriving in Athens 3:00PM on Sunday. I was fortunate to meet Marcus Quantes of GKSS who helped find the way to the hotel via bus and Metro. The bus ride into town took over 2hrs since traffic was stuffed up as there were some demonstrations going on. I had hoped to get out for a walk or jog before going to bed but it was dark by the time I got settled into my room.

The hotel is undergoing reconstruction so just figuring out how to get in the place was challenging.

I got out for a morning jog around the acropolis which is quite close to the hotel. I watched the sunrise at a rock outcropping near the acropolis.

The meeting began with a series of presentations and followed in the afternoon by breakouts into the respective working groups.

We walked to an outdoor restaurant not far from the Acropolis where we had a nice lunch.

Evening dinner was at, guess what a Greek restaurant! The food was good.

I ran in the morning around and through a botanical garden. Just before lunch, I bought a pass to the Acropolis at a senior discount of 6EU. This permitted access for 4 days. Access is now highly controlled with gates into the complex and all the ruins gated off. Back in 1972 one could freely walk into the complex and walk up and into the ruins. Views of the city from the Acropolis were nice but obscured by the pollution haze. I also explored the ruins of Agro which was located just below the Acropolis on the north side. On my way back to the hotel I passed a restaurant that seemed quite busy. I ate upstairs on a little window patio with flowers on the iron railing and a view of the city below including a small mountain with a chapel on it. The food selection was brought on a large tray and for 8.50EU I had a nice meal including wine with a nice view.

George Kallos, a local professor at the university and RAMS user, picked me and Marcus Quantes up and took us to dinner. He drove us across town to the southeast near where the old airport used to be. He took us to a seafood restaurant right on the shore. The view and ambiance was great. The meal was by far the best meal I had in Athens and the wine was excellent.

I ran around a botanical garden before breakfast. There are a number of Ferrell cats and dogs that seem to be living there.

I then made a presentation at the plenary session summarizing our experience simulating aerosol cloud interactions. It was well received with a lot of questions and a number of people complimenting me on the presentation.

I took a group to the little restaurant I found on Tuesday and found a number of other meeting people had also found it. We had a nice groupy lunch with us sharing a number of dishes on the platter.

After the meeting I walked through the Acropolis again and then walked to the top of a hill with nice views of the town and the Acropolis and an ancient monument.

The town of Athens is relatively clean. The streets seem to be washed down each morning and for the most part trash is picked up. However, there is a coating of dust on everything, especially the cars.

That evening we had a banquet dinner near the coast at what was purported to be a seafood restaurant. However, while some of the dishes had octopus, the main course was some hunk of meat soaked in gravy with over-salted vegetables surrounding it. The wine was a disgusting sweet white wine. Overall the meal was quite a letdown from the preceding night's meal.

I jogged with Ulrike Lohmann, who took Marcus Quantes, Jay Mace, and me on an hour long jog up to the top of a little mountain where there was a restaurant and a little church. The climb was about 550'. She is a bit fast for me. I said in the meeting that I learned not to jog with a woman that is 30years younger, 40 pounds lighter, and whose hips are at the level of my shoulders!

James Pinto asked me to summarize our Arctic cloud modeling work in the Arctic cloud group. It was a fairly impromptu presentation but went well.

Then I gave a presentation at the cirrus group summarizing our CRYSTAL-FACE simulations of aerosol impacts on clouds. I was surprised there were not any questions or comments. It might have been a result of being at the end of the day.

Then there was a special section on aerosol influences on clouds in which I was fairly vocal advocating starting with orographic clouds which are much easier to simulate the dynamics and easier to observe as well so that there is a potential for being able to assess models and their ability to simulate aerosol effects on clouds and precipitation.

That evening Hans Verlinde led a group of us into an older neighborhood called Psiri where we found a nice place with good food, good wine and live music. The waitress was also quite amusing. We topped off the evening with shots of some Greek distilled liquor. Even the waitress poured down a shot!

I tried to run up to the top of hill where there was a park behind an Olympic stadium. I guess it was closed as I never did find an open gate.

Today the planary meeting is a series of summaries of each working group's deliberations.

In the afternoon I took a half day tour to Sounion. The bus took us along the south east coast past where George Kallos took us to dinner. It continued along the windy coastal road eventually getting to Sounion. On an outcropping were the remains of the temple of Poseidon over looking the Adriatic. Poseidon was the God of Earth quakes. The tour guide could have been better as she did not talk a lot along the way or even at the ruin. We had to ask her to get much out of her.

That evening I tried to find Psiri on my own for supper. Well that was not so easy and I got quite lost. Whenever I asked directions showing people on the map where I wanted to go they kept telling me it was too far to walk. I was never sure if they were directing me to Psiri or to a subway. But it was only about a mile from where I got lost. I eventually found the district and found a nice restaurant for dinner. The food was great but parts of my fish could have been cooked more. After eating I asked the direction to walk and found a much more direct route than the one that Han's had used. Now I could find my way there easily except that was the last opportunity.

I bought a tour package that took me to the Island of Hydra. I talked Steve Krueger into joining me. After a bit of discussions with the driver about who had reservations, we finally got on the van at 0700 to take us to the boat, The boat was a catamaran that cruised along at 30kts. We first stopped at Pords which is very near the mainland peninsula. That island was quite heavily forested. Then after two hours we reached hydra. It is a fairly mountainous island with very few trees in the mountains. There is only one town on the island and I think it is called Hydra. It consists of neat white stucco houses most with blue trim but some with green or brown. The attraction of the island for me is that automobiles are not permitted. Transportation is mainly by donkey or water taxis. Arriving at 1000 we headed for a monastery at the top of a mountain. The walk began on concrete surface but rapidly declined to rock strewn gravel. The last end was up a rock staircase. Steve, in his sandals had a hard time keeping up with the old man. I taught him my sherpa-style walk of taking small, but rapid steps. But it was sunny and humid. The views from the monastery were spectacular. It took me about 1h 10min to walk up so I expect it was about 2miles and the elevation gain was about 1500'.

Our return was much easier and we passed a number of people that were quite warm and tired as they were hiking in the noon-day sun. We found a nice outdoor cafe where we had a nice lunch with stray cats picking up any food droppings. We then walked along a coastal road about two miles to Mandraki Bay where there was a resort called Miramare Beach Bungalows. It was a neat place that I wouldn't mind staying at some time. On the way back Steve convinced me to hike down to a little rock cove. The trail went by a little chapel and down stone stairs to the cove. We changed into our bathing suits and took a brief swim. The water temperature was a bit cool, I'd guess in the upper 60's. But after the warm hiking it felt good. Then it was back for a 1620 departure back to Athens. We decided to use our free meal vouchers which the hotel gave us to placate us for all the construction going on. The meal was good but nothing special. Now to bed and hopefully awaking at 0300(ugh!) to catch a 45min taxi ride and 2h ahead of a 0615 flight.

I talked to people at the airport who had gone to some of the other islands. They noted that the ferry's were filled with trucks and cars. The streets were filled with motorcycles and cars. Hydra, on the other hand, was a welcome relief from the cars and motorcycles running about everywhere including sidewalks, horns blowing, and the air having auto exhaust pollution haze. On Hydra, there were no horns blowing, no motorcycles zipping by cutting across sidewalks and running stop lights. The only pollution was donkey crap on the roads/trails. In town they washed down the streets each morning so it didn't accumulate much.

Up at 0300 and in the taxi at 0330. I was surprised the streets were crowded and horns were blasting all over the place. I think there was some sort of celebration of a Greek win in a sports event or something. I arrived at the airport at about 415. It took about 15minutes to check in. Why did I get up so early? Everyone told me to be there 2 hours ahead. I had to wait 15minutes or so before security opened up. When it did I went through quickly.