H ασπρη μερα στην Αθηνα
This post was going to start with “Καμια” and end with a question mark, but as a light snow started to fall in Athens as we went to sleep last night, it morphed to “H.”
People who have never been to Greece often ask the question, “Snow…in Greece?” The answer is, “Nαι!” It’s prominent in the north of Greece and mountainous areas, such as Tymfristos and Parnassos where a lot of people sit around posing in perfect outfits some of us actually ski and snowboard.
Ironically, when I tell people here that I was on the ski team in California, they ask me, “Snow…in California?” The answer is, “absolutely.” See, stereotypes work in reverse too. It’s snowing in San Diego right now.
Just a few hours drive from wine country are my favorite places — Bear Valley, where I learned to ski from my Trigonometry teacher; Squaw, the location of the 1960 Olympics; and Heavenly, a world class ski resort where I nearly committed suicide by getting on the wrong ski lift to an expert slope complete with 90° drop, moguls and almost zero visibility. Those were the good ol’ days.
All I have now is maybe 2 3 4 10 centimeters where I live in Athens, a cakewalk compared to Sweden, Minnesota or New York where temps can fall to -12°C and snowfall up to a meter overnight. So if you’re going to whine to me about, “how cold it is,” join my fiancé in the corner. You’ll get no sympathy from me until it’s so cold that it’s painful to breathe through a neck gaiter over your mouth and there’s so much snow on the ground that it takes 5 hours to dig yourself out of the house.
It’s barely a dusting of sugar on a donut, in fact I think there’s less snow outside than sugar on a kourambiethe.
Put on some turtle fur and suck it up!
Snow tips for inexperienced Athenians
1. Wear waterproof shoes with traction
Timberlands, Caterpillar, Ecco, for example. Not sneakers and trainers that will leave you cold, wet and slipping in no time.
If you currently don’t own proper shoes, at least choose a pair made of synthetic material (not leather), which will somewhat protect you from the elements.
2. Wear fleece, flannel, cashmere or wool underneath and a water-resistant layer on top
Doing this will insulate you and keep you dry; regular cotton and polyester will do nothing, even in layers. Silk underwear is a good thin (non-bulky) base layer for any cold weather (or cold house) and doubles as pajamas. Wearing a hat will also help since the majority of heat escapes through your head. It’s not a fashion show, and I bet you’ll look cute.
3. Use snow to your advantage
Snow is actually an insulator, so don’t feel obligated to clean off the whole car, just windshields and mirrors. (Judging from the pileups and collisions on Attiki Odos, we’ll strike it from the list since people are having trouble with basics)
4. If your home has no insulation, put aside some bottles of water
Pipes will freeze overnight if not protected by a layer of insulation or other precautions aren’t taken. Put some bottles on reserve for drinking, preparing food, flushing the toilet or washing hands, hair and vegetables. If you don’t, prepare to be unshowered, unshaven, hungry and thirsty until the weather allows pipes to thaw.
5. The roads are slippery, don’t drive like you normally do
Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about! If you’re not used to driving in these conditions where black ice and other drivers add more risk, it’s best to go very slow, use public transportation, walk or stay home.
You may laugh at these tips because you think they’re stupid or you’re “too cool” to care. That’s OK. At least I tried.
Take it easy and everyone be safe out there.
Post photo is mine, taken the morning of February 17, 2008.
The accompanying ex-header can be found here; photos are: a) Ikaros airfield from aopa.gr; b) Akropoli from bbc.co.uk; c) Downtown by Christos Siaterlis from homestead.com; d) Olympian Zeus from elia.org.gr.