Most of my meetings are unfortunately scheduled every 30 minutes alternating between Halls 1 and 3. While I was able to schedule with who and what time we meet, the exhibition now has vendors dictate where (last year’s were all in one place). Exhibitors choose the comfort of their booths. And since meetings often run late and I’m asked to wait, being on time for the following appointment gets harder and harder.
Finally, I wrap up my meetings and am free to walk the show like a normal human being. Hall 4 has a large wine tasting area, with rows of white tables and silver buckets. All the signs are in English and tastings are self-serve. People are very generous with their pours here. Nearby one wine booth has an old, faded wooden grape press. Above it is a sign in Greek and English “Municipality of Marko Poulo.” Either that swimming pool game is more popular than I thought, or the Silk Road cut through Greece.
I follow a crowded corridor to another Hall. Before a 25-foot tall blue rollup door, a Greek couple makes out on a bench. They might as well be in a dark movie theater they are so oblivious. My initial impression is that this is illegal. Then I realize that I’m getting Dubai دبي and Athens Αθήνα confused. Hell, for all I know making out at industry events in Athens is a job requirement.
At the end of the day, I grab a shuttle back to the hotel. Unfortunately, there is no direct service from the Expo. Holiday Inn offers an Airport Shuttle instead. There isn’t enough space on the van, so the last two passengers play rock paper scissors for the remaining seat. The hotel does have a bigger shuttle, but doesn’t use it.
On the way back our van passes Leroy Merlin’s. I give the Black Power salute as we drive by. It garners some concerned looks from nearby passengers. Bad, bad Leroy Merlin is worthy of respect.
Of Buses & Bees
It is the morning of the second day of the show. I’m thrown off the Holiday Inn Airport / Expo Shuttle bus. No reason is given, other then I tried to steal someone’s seat. This is annoying. If I was going to steal a spot, I’d be the Danny Ocean of seat stealing dammit!
Turns out that even though I reserved a space on the shuttle for two days, each morning you still have to plead for a seat. This is not indicative of Greek culture. It is indicative that it’s no holiday at the Holiday Inn. To be fair, this isn’t a big deal but now I need to get to the show.
I grab an Uber, which is quasi-legal in Greece. My driver says “Hi, I’m Dan” (the least Greek name I’ve ever heard). As I get into his car, an Athenian taxi driver starts yelling at us in Greek. Vague threats are made, something about its’ all going to be over soon. Normally I wouldn’t pay any attention, but Greeks are a passionate people. Their Gods literally impregnated rocks. If that doesn’t sound impressive, try it and see how successful you are.
We get to the show without incident, and Dan is the consummate professional. I take a quick tour of Hall 2. The show this year is much more international than I remember. Spain, Hungary and other countries are now exhibiting here. Even though the show started half an hour ago, booths are still empty. I walk by a sign for “The Best of Israeli Groundnuts.” Underneath is a large picture of a wrinkled peanut shell on its side. It looks like an old man’s testicles. Truly the best that Israeli senior citizens have to offer.