2016 Greece

Prelude

May 1, 2016
Why Greece, and What Do I Expect?

Four of my last five international trips have been to Asia, so I’m feeling wistful for Europe. And I’ve never been to Greece, although I’ve been to every country it borders except the gangster republic of Albania.

Europe’s an important place right now—and not necessarily for good reasons, of course. There’s the transnational migrant crisis. The upcoming British referendum that could end the EU. The breeding grounds for international terrorism. The interface with Turkey, a country that matters for new reasons—none of them happy (new motto: “Democracy? We don’t need no stinkin’ democracy!”)

Of course, Greece is many countries in one. There’s the 6,000 years of continuous settlement BEFORE the Bronze Age Trojan War; Homer and the first Olympic games 500 years later; the classical land of Pythagoras, Plato and Euripedes; the world- conquering land of Alexander the Great; the Byzantine land, the Ottoman land, the Nazi-held land, the land of civil war, military dictatorship, and economic collapse.

I’m planning to see remnants of as many of these as possible.

And to hear Greek music, eat Greek food, and walk on Greek beaches. I’m going to Crete, Rhodes, the Peloponnese, and Thessaloniki.

I’m starting the trip in Athens, where I’m speaking at the Stanford Club. It will be a chance to get up close to the locals, who are excited to reconnect with Silicon Valley—although I made it clear I’m neither engineer nor venture capitalist.

Among other things, I’ll be speaking to some people involved in the refugee crisis just a few miles from the Greece-Macedonia border. I’ll be visiting the site of the WWII Battle of Crete just a week after its 75th anniversary: Nazi paratroopers made the first primarily airborne invasion in history there, and it was the first time the Allies used intelligence from the Enigma Machine’s decrypted German messages. And I’ll see the canal built around the old city-state of Corinth, a project Julius Caesar considered before he died.

As usual, I’ll be blogging about the trip (almost) daily—the history and politics, architecture and music, and my inevitable unscheduled visits with Greek people. If you click the “follow” button under my picture to the right, you’ll get an email every time I post here. C’mon along!

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