Yesterday I returned from Athens. I was there since Friday morning. The reason I went to Athens this time was because I wanted to attend the TedxAthens 2012 event. I had booked my ticket one month ago and I really looked forward to experiencing it first hand. So, as you have already understood, this is TedxAthens through my eyes. In other words, it is a description of the event from the time I arrived at the “Warm Up” event on Friday night up until I left from the main event on Saturday night but from a completely personal perspective.
Friday, 23rd of November 2012
The taxi cab was getting closer and closer to “The Hub Events”, the venue that was about to host the TedxAthens “Warm up” day. As the Taxi pulled up outside the entrance I felt a small excitement starting to build up inside of me. I was happy to be there finally and so was Vicky (my wife). We got out, took a few steps, flashed our iPhone passbook tickets to the doorman and walked in. Once inside we were welcomed by a very polite girl, which we later met and her name was Themis. She took care of us by registering our names and giving us some bracelets to wear. These bracelets were suppose to be on our wrists from now until the end of Friday’s Warm Up event. Ok, cool.
We were told to go upstairs, so that’s what we did. Once on the top floor, we saw many people talking, laughing and enjoying them selves in anticipation of the Tedx Talks. The space was minimal, and had a few seating places and even fewer tall tables for groups of people to gather around and talk. I almost instantly spotted my friend, Manos Hatziefstratiu. Manos and I both live in Crete. Manos in Chania and my self in Rethymno. I must add that once the place got packed it was hard to spot your friends amongst everybody else. So, meeting was kind of cool.
Manos told me that Nescafe was the official sponsor that night. They offered Nescafe coffee as a welcoming beverage. I had my self a nice Frappe. I must admit it had been several years since the last time I had drank a Frappe. I liked it. As time went by, I met more people I knew, some friends, others acquaintances, but the most fun was meeting people in real life that I had only known on line. It is so funny when you meet a person you have talked to many times but have never actually met. I have had tons of previous experience with meeting on line friends but each time it excites me just the same as it did the first time. Amongst the many people I met that day was Bindi Karia. My friend Amalia Agathou introduced us, but it was only until the next day when I saw her on stage that I realized who I was talking to the previous day. You see, the introductions were made on a first name basis and Bindi Karia in person looks different to her photo. My personal opinion is that she looks much more real up close. So we talked about Crete and life in Crete. At least I can say that I had the honor of meeting her, even if I didn’t even know it at the time.
The TedxAthens volunteers, all enthusiastic, energetic people wearing red T-Shirts with the word volunteer on their back, began asking all us guests to slowly make it towards the presentation room. So, Vicky, Manos and me, went inside. We found some nice seats, in the 6th or 7th row, on the left hand side of the stage. People were gradually pouring into the presentation room until it was packed. The TedxAthens team was there, amongst us, working and organizing the event. They did a great job, from the first second to the last. The lights went dim, everyone stopped talking and the event started. During this “Warm Up” event we witnessed presentations by the Athens Human Grid Team, Gerasimos Kouvaras – Director Actionaid Hellas, Paul Loeb – Author & Researcher on Active Citizenship, Nikos Charalambidis – Executive Director Greenpeace Hellas, Sofia Athanasiadou - Supermom blogger and Ada Alamanou – Co-founder Klimaka organization. The “Warm Up” event was focused on Volunteerism, Activism, The Environment, Human rights and more inspiring such topics.
After the end of the event, we all moved out of the presentation room and headed to the welcoming room. This was the room I mentioned before that had a minimalistic decor, remember? The place seemed like it had more people than before. I guess the +1′s had started to show up. The 1+’s were friends of Tedx attendees that didn’t have access to the Friday night Conference, but had the right to come to the party. I had a +1 also. Natasha Oikonomopoulou is a talented Web Designer that works for my company. So, Vicky, Manos, Natasha and my self all headed downstairs to the Hub’s club. The music was rocking on, people were talking, laughing and discussing what they had just been a part of. The power of volunteerism had touched most of the attendees hearts already. I was lucky to see more friends there, friends from the OpenBeer Event and others I know as business connections. I saw Eleni Miliou, Niki Sotiropoulou, Nektarios Sylligardakis, George Anagnostopoulos, Dimitris Kalavros Gousiou (TedxAthens organiser), Maria Mouzakiti (TedxAthens Social Media guru), Spyros Vathis, Amalia Agathou, Christos Loufopoulos and his wife Catherine Lambrou, Aspa Tsamadi “Aspa Online” and more. I had the pleasure of meeting Maria “MsKoyot”, Alexandra Kalouta, Giorgos Vareloglou, Themis Economidi and more.
During the party, Papercut performed. They are a really cool group. I was very impressed with their live performance, so impressed in fact that it made me want to buy their album. So I asked the violin player, Matina, if they had their music online. She told me about their facebook page, a little about their music and how to find them. By the way, I purchased their album just before starting to write this post. I have been listening to it over and over again while writing. I find it great music for writing, great music for relaxing but also great music for listening to loud. So, “going back” to “The Hub”. I finished my conversation and then went back to my friends.
We noticed at this time that more and more people were moving outside. Smokers… Anyway, if half the people move outside then the other half follow, so we all went outside and had great fun. The whole setup, people in the street while the club was empty, reminded me of English pubs and it felt familiar in some way. Anyway, it was late. I don’t remember how late, I think it was 02:00 am. The thing is that by this time Vicky, Natasha and me felt hungry. Manos had left and most of the people were leaving too. So, the three of us decided to go to Ciao in Pagrati, a 24h place that serves Italian food. Natasha gave us a ride and we got to Ciao and had pizza! Ciao makes the most amazing pizza. If you live in Athens or you are ever visiting Athens, try and find Ciao and eat pizza there. Anyway, after the pizza we decided that it was time to call it a night. Vicky and my self, said goodnight to Natasha and we headed back to our place. it was 03:15 or something like that.
Some photos from Friday:
Saturday, 24th of November 2012
My eyes would not open. Vicky’s too. LOL! But today was the official TedxAthens day and mind conquered over body and we managed to wake up. Personally I had to have a nice Scottish shower to wake up. That did the trick and I felt “brand new” again. In case you don’t know what a Scottish shower is, it is a shower that has sudden large temperature changes. From cold to hot and vise versa. It is the best way to wake up! As soon as I was ready, I went and got us some coffees from our local Everest and we called a cab and headed to the event.
Natasha was already there waiting for us. We all walked to the event main area and it was full of people registering at the counters. We registered also, using our iPhone Passbook tickets again. We received a bag of goodies and an identity card with our name and job title on it. We went inside and the Talks had already started. I asked the girls if they were ready and they wanted coffee or something, so I said “bye bye” left and went to check out the presentations. All presentations were fantastic! Some of them were better than others, some were amazing but all 35 of them (if I am not mistaken) were great! If I had to choose 3 out of the lot, I would have to say that my personal favourites were David Shing, Lars Rasmussen and Sam Conniff. The presenter of the show, Thodoris Anagnostopoulos was amazing! He was funny, he always had something smart to say and was full of positive energy. In other words he owned the crowd. Good job mate. During the events, everything went as planed, so there isn’t much to tell really. I sat and watched in total silence one by one the talented speakers talk about what they do best and listen to their personal messages towards us. It was a fantastic experience. Dimitris Kalavros – Gousiou and his team really did a great job. A grand job!
Some of my personal best moments of that day was:
- Meeting Lars Rasmussen in person, that was a tremendous honor, also
- Meeting more people I knew from my on line interactions but I didn’t know in person (until then),
- Meeting more friends I knew and sharing some beers with them and also
- Getting a chance to hang out with the team of The Human Grid.
All in all my TedxAthens experience was a great one. It was a unique and beautiful experience that was made possible because of the TedxAthens team and it’s volunteers.
Cheers for that guys and girls!