Natalie Georgiou, trainee, Watson Farley & Williams
30 June 2010
11 March 2013
21 October 2013
14 August 2013
8 March 2013
18 February 2013
Two weeks ago I had my first Greek lesson in the taxi from the airport in Athens:
yia sas - hello
hero poli - pleased to meet you
se’ thelo poli - I want you a lot
kalinihta - goodnight
“Right… That’ll do nicely then!” I laughed, joining in with the driver’s favourite joke and already feeling welcomed by the warmth and easy-going nature of the Greek people.
I’ll be honest; this was in fact not my first Greek lesson. I was fortunate enough to have been offered several hours of tuition through Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) before coming out here to help build upon the sketchy knowledge of the language I had picked up at home from my family. Although everyone in the Piraeus office speaks English, it has definitely come in handy when speaking to the locals.
On my first day at work I settle down at my new desk, look out of the window to my left and realise that one entire side of our building directly faces the port. Admiring the view and thinking how lucky I am to be sat working right next to the Aegean sea, I begin to hear a faint chanting and see in the distance an army of people heading directly towards our office. Realising I’m witnessing a real-life protest (by port workers over pay, I later discover), I excitedly reach for my camera ready to capture what was about to unfold before my very eyes; riot police to tame the crowds, a news crew perhaps?… Ten minutes later, the chanting has ceased and everyone is just standing about chatting, families and children enjoying the morning sun. Realising that this is more of a social event, I tire of the “protest”, only occasionally glancing out of the window for an update and I note that, like myself, they’ve all become bored with their display and are calmly dispersing to the local coffee shops.
This relaxed, social attitude is something carried over into working life in the office. Coffee is an absolute necessity and the abundance of coffee machines, whippers (for frappe) and various other coffee-making utensils in the kitchen demonstrate this. The social unity of the team out here was evident on my first Friday lunchtime where the whole office gathered to eat together as both a farewell to the current trainee and a welcome to me. Heartfelt speeches were made and gifts exchanged in a touching display of Greek generosity.
Don’t get me wrong, we work hard and my second week here was one of the busiest I’ve experienced with WFW. Three closings in one day had me running between different ship registries and various client offices to get documents signed and registered (whilst simultaneously doing my best not to get run over; the driving here is a little erratic to say the least!). “Busy” is an understatement, but doing all this against the backdrop of the hustle and bustle of a Greek port with container ships and stunning cruise ships sailing in and out takes the edge off somewhat.
With just two weeks in Greece under my belt, I’m excited for what’s in store for me here. Not least because I’m at the centre of one of the greatest historic hubs in the world (the Parthenon, temples of the Greek Gods and an ancient amphitheatre are a stone’s throw away), but living and working so close to the port means I can easily visit some of the beautiful, unspoilt Greek islands at the weekends. The food is incredible and the plethora of restaurants and open-air bars that line the local marinas provide ample choice for ways to spend an evening. All this coupled with perfect weather for sunbathing means that I’m really looking forward to Summer 2010… all I need now are some plates to smash! OPA!