On the 9th and 10th of June, the largest European gathering of WordPress developers, WordCamp Europe took place in Athens, bringing together over 6,000 visitors from around the world and offering a great selection of new and well-known opportunities for WordPress developers.
The entire event was held at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron), which is primarily designed for such large-scale events. It provided multiple conference spaces, a large exhibition area, as well as numerous smaller rooms for workshops, breakout sessions, and even yoga.
The Megaron Conference Center is located in the heart of Athens, with convenient access to the metro and close proximity to local historical attractions such as the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, Monastiraki, and more. The next WordCamp Europe will take place from June 13th to 15th, 2023, in Milan, which is also known for its large exhibition center on the outskirts of the city.
We were invited to the event this year by our good partner, Verona Labs, who participated for the first time with their own exhibition. They specialize in building WordPress plugins, with notable ones being WP Statistics, Wp SMS, SlimChat, and the Vitathemes WordPress theme shop.
It was also great to meet our good friends from Veebimajutus, who joined the event to enjoy the atmosphere and explore new exciting collaboration opportunities in terms of hosting and expanding their service offerings.
Athens itself is compact and has a reasonable metro and bus system, which makes getting around for daily activities quite successful. However, we couldn’t find familiar car or scooter rental providers like Bolt or CityBee. Instead, there were various rental services offered by major European companies such as AVIS, Budget, Europcar, as well as smaller local providers. As for food delivery, Uber Eats is available, along with several local options, with eFood being the most prominent. However, many of the tried services were only oriented towards the local market and operated solely in Greek.
Although the population is diverse, the overall atmosphere of the city is seemingly friendly and safe. Everywhere you encounter helpful people who are willing to give directions or shopkeepers who offer credit due to the late hour, as they prefer not to accept card payments in small corner stores during late hours. Small shops are mostly run by people of different nationalities who have found their home in Greece.
However, the fuse of the local people is short when it comes to expressing their opinions or participating in demonstrations. Throughout our one-and-a-half-week trip, we witnessed rapid response units of the local police, who were not just ordinary peacekeepers but rather impressive forces equipped with formidable firepower.
Similar precautionary measures were also observed at a major basketball game at Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium, where the second game of the finals series took place during our stay. To describe the situation, it is worth mentioning that we were delighted with the home team’s two-point victory; otherwise, returning to our place of residence could have been risky. As an additional fact, it should be mentioned that the fourth game of the series was also held in the same Olympic Hall, but due to the fans’ uproar and vandalism, the game was suspended. Olympiacos’ team was evacuated, the hall was emptied, and the game was halted. The Greek Basketball Federation decided after the fourth game that this year’s finals series had ended and no further games would be played. Olympiacos was crowned the champion of the Greek league.
In essence, Athens is similar to other major cities in the southern Mediterranean region, with its cultural treasures of the past and the overall bustling atmosphere of the city. Everything is slightly chaotic, a bit messy, but surprisingly, everything works, and people are content with what they have.
The first experience with public transportation in Athens left us a bit bewildered. Most signs were in the local language, and the English translations, although available, often had different interpretations. Getting accustomed to the local alphabet, which combines elements from the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, as well as other influences, also required some adjustment. With a long history of the written language, the main focus was on capital letters, while lowercase letters are a relatively recent addition. This made reading various signs extremely challenging, as the visual appearance could vary significantly depending on whether the signage used all capital letters or only capitalized the first letter.
The Acropolis (Ακρόπολις) was a fortress built on a rocky hill in ancient Greek city-states, often used to refer to the highest temple, and around which the modern metropolis grew over time. The most famous structure on the Acropolis is undoubtedly the Parthenon, built in the 5th century BC to honor the goddess Athena and celebrate the Greeks’ victory over the Persian Empire. The name “Parthenon” has several theories regarding its meaning, but the main interpretation is that it signifies a temple dedicated to the chaste goddess, representing Athens’ values, virtues, and power. Before its official naming, the building was simply referred to as a temple, and its current name was given by the people as a nickname. There is also a myth that the building was called the Hekatompedon, as it was initially used as a treasury and storage chamber.
During the 5th century, with the spread of Christianity, the Parthenon briefly functioned as a Christian church and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Theotokos. Later, in 1456, Ottoman forces invaded Athens and occupied the territory after two years of battles. The Ottomans converted part of the Parthenon into a mosque. Subsequently, during the Morean War from 1684 to 1699, the Parthenon was used as a gunpowder storage, and at the end of the war, it was partially destroyed by the Venetians. This cycle of different uses continued for Greeks until 1832 when Greece declared its independence. In 1975, the Greek government decided to restore the main buildings of the Acropolis. Precious artifacts and culturally significant items were relocated to the nearby Acropolis Museum. .