Changing Perspectives: Travel is More Than a “Perfect” Photo

Spending time in other countries isn’t just about seeking out peak experiences; enjoying a world famous view, walking through spectacular architecture, or visiting extraordinary museums. It’s also about the mundane actions of daily life and how they differ in even small ways from what you are used to in your own country. Note that what I am going to describe here is not intended as a criticism of Greece per se; poor product design and frustrating UIs can be found anywhere!

We arrived at our AirBnB apartment in the Kolonaki neighborhood of central Athens and inserted the key in the door lock. Rotated it once and pushed. Still locked. Rotated it the other way. Nope. Rotated it several times, both ways. No luck. This went on for awhile. We had not been given any special instructions about the front door lock. What were we missing? Finally, after numerous attempts, the door mysteriously opened.

With the door open, I turned the key in the lock and observed something I had never seen before; a triple deadbolt that moved through three different levels of extension, and no way to know with the door closed how many times you have to rotate the key to fully retract the bolts! Seems like a poor user interface design; the user has to remember how many key turns they used to lock the door (one, two, or three?) so as to avoid randomly trying different numbers of turns to unlock it. And yes, the door does lock with just one turn of the key.

I don’t know if that is a common lock type in Greece, but I’ve never seen it in other European countries.

Our AirBnB apartment appears to have been recently remodeled in a contemporary style that we admire; it’s largely why we selected it, along with its central location just a 25 minute walk from the major archaeological attractions. But it has some rather odd design features.

All the sinks in the apartment are constructed from multiple pieces resulting in 90 degree corners and essentially flat bottoms; they don’t fully drain and are difficult to clean in the corners. So compared to a one piece rounded sink with a sloped bottom they require more labor to install and are less functional. Another case of form over function.

This is my favorite oddity; as far as I know, no human ever has had a rectangular butt. But if you do, this is the toilet for you. Is it more comfortable? No. Easier to clean? No. Better in any conceivable way? No. But different? Definitely. And it does complement the square floor drain.

Visitors to this blog may be aware that I started it years ago to share the experience of traveling powered only by electricity; that is no longer a novel concept. In China about a quarter of all new car sales are EVs and in Norway the figure is over 80%! However Greece has a long way to go with current market share in the low single digits. After a week walking the streets of Athens I had counted just twelve Teslas and one electric KIA. This Model Y was getting a charge on the street at an 11kW station which means it could be there for many hours. That’s not a satisfactory solution for the many Greek apartment dwellers who cannot charge at home. So far Tesla has built four Supercharger locations in Greece, with a fifth planned for Ioanninia in 2024.

Greece: The Ancient Need for Answers

Greece: Athens Can Delight the Eye and Be an Eyesore

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