An Earth-Shaking Event

Last night was an earth-shaking event.  I woke up by my bed moving in unexplainable ways, by the oddest sensation of being  jerked around horizontally in a a rolling motion. I will never forget that moment. It almost felt as if my body was being stretched. Seeking an explanation my mind settled on the idea that I was still sleeping, hence reassured by my conviction that what I was experiencing was but a dream, I fell back asleep. My dreams are often very vivid and I been a lucid dreamer since childhood. But this time I was fooled, for in fact I was awake. Still I’m kind of thankful that the possibility of an earthquake never crossed my mind, but that’s exactly what it was. If I had realised that the unexplainable movement was caused by a violent earthquake  ( magnitude 5.2) which rumbled through Athens in the early hours of this morning I would probably have panicked. Instead I got to feel the earth move while feeling perfectly safe.

The Greek capital is often rumbled by seismic activities, it lies across a complex boundary zone in the eastern Mediterranean, between the African tectonic plate and Eurasian tectonic plate, but according to officials, this latest earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks were significantly stronger than usual. Efthimios Lekkas, director of the state-run Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation, said: “It was an earthquake that occurred quite near the surface and was felt quite intensely in Athens — from an area where quakes are fairly common but rarely stronger than today’s event. In hindsight I feel a little shaken but mostly very curious about how the Acropolis still stands after all these years,  A quick google reveal that the question of how the ancient ruins of the Acropolis have survived so many earthquakes in 2,500 years, where other, more modern constructions have fallen, has puzzled scientists and engineers for years. And the answer?  Apparently  it’s a marvel of mechanical engineering.

The conclusion is that the buildings were designed ingeniously in order to be protected from earthquakes. It would seem the ancient engineers knew what they were doing in terms of ensuring their creations would last, which is part of the reason we still see them gracing the high, rocky outcrop in Athens.


The Swedish Institute in Athens


The roof terrace at the Swedish Institute in Athens

I could sit here for the rest of my life! Or a few weeks at least. With a large roof terrace overlooking Acropolis I did not  feel much need to leave the building (but of course I did). It has been paradisical – a wonderful place to stay, whether involved in interesting conversations with other guests, (Frederick Whitling and Petter Spjut it was a pleasure to meet you!) or spending time on my own. On this terrace, for slow breakfasts, delicious lunches, or late red wine under the sky, I regained some inner peace. 11329752_10153037822838090_8261644360745102738_n I have felt truly relaxed for the first time in several  years,  so much that for the first days, I almost forgot that I am not in Athens for holidays, until I noticed the big advertisements for Art-Athina all over town.. I think I will dream of  The Swedish Institute, a  grand neo-classical building in the Makriyianni district of Athens, immediately to the south of the Acropolis,  for a long time. I already miss it. Even though I do not leave until the day after tomorrow. I will also miss Athens. A city I want to know more intimately.  I hope I get a chance to return. I am already planning my return…