Athens ideal for a stroll, but not sign hunting

Updated: August 18, 2004, 12:41 PM ET
By Brian Church | Special to ESPN Insider
ATHENS, Greece – It was July 14, 1992 and Greece's then-finance minister, Yiannis Paleokrassas, walked out of his ministry just off central Syntagma Square, and got in his official car. The chauffeur drove 25 meters down Karageorgis Servias Street, turned left into Voulis Street and …


A remote-controlled rocket, planted by then-active "Nov. 17" terrorists, was fired from above a ground-floor shop. It missed the minister and instead killed a 20-year-old student passing by. City Hall later put up a plaque: "In memory of Thanos Axarlian, Innocent Victim of Terrorism."

And then they, or the transport ministry, put up a traffic sign in front of the plaque.

It's not quite like having a STOP sign right by JFK's Eternal Flame – but it's still pretty insensitive.

I've been walking around the Olympic host city today, thinking about such things. Athens is a great city for a stroll. The only danger is being run over by cars, and it's fairly quiet on that front right now. Unlike almost any other capital in the world, you stand no chance of being attacked or even seeing any violence. I haven't. In 12 years. Not once.

And it was nice to take a break from the Costas Kenteris saga. Greece's 200-meter reigning Olympic champion today came out of the hospital, where he went after a motorcycle accident, after not turning up for a drug check, after not being contactable.

As they say in the USA, three afters and you're out, buddy.

Today, my mission, should I choose to accept, is to look out for common and unusual signs.