A story that made the headlines in the UK a few years ago was the arrest some of Brits who, as part of their
holiday, went plane spotting. Fairly innocent you would think, except that there were military aircraft on
the airfield. The authorities took exception to this, and locked up the group.
Just how many military secrets you should make visible from a public place is debatable, but jailing
people who like to look at these things is a bit extreme. Particularly given that Greeks' enemies
[they still don't get on very well with the Turks] would surely know all about their aircraft anyway?
[Google earth anyone?]
This story takes an even more bizarre twist as on the 25th of March the Greeks celebrate the
Greek War of Independence
with a military parade in which - it seems - the whole of the Greek armed
forces march past the Parliament Building ... in plain view of anyone with an interest or camera.
My ex and I took a short break in Athens at Easter 2005, and we read about there being a military
parade on Good Friday. OK, we thought, a few trucks, a few tanks, a few soldiers/sailors/airmen [and women]. Wrong.
Conscription still exists in Greece, so every one knows someone in the services - and so the Good
Friday event is big. Think Russians and Red Square. And it locks up the roads and public transport systems
for its duration.
It all started for us around 6.30am. I was woken up by what I thought was the sound of road cleaners -
an engine noise and a kind a swooshing sound. Err, no. A trip to the balcony revealed that the swooshing
sound was not cleaning brushes, but tank tracks. Our hotel was on the route taken by the military hardware
coming into town for the parade. Not only that, but we were on a junction and shallow curve at the bottom of a small
incline, so the tanks slowed for the corner - and opened the throttle for the hill. And I am not talking an odd
few. Bush went into Iraq with less. I stopped counting tanks at 70 - and that's not counting the ones that
woke us up.
For the military minded it was interesting. I'm not an expert, but the hardware rolling past seemed to have US, European and Eastern Block origins.
Most impressive were the Abrams battle tanks [at least I think that is what they were]. Close up, these things are awesome.
The parade itself is impressive, and if military hardware is of interest to you, well worth seeing.
Representatives of every element of the Greek armed forces take part - although seeing what I assume
were special forces march past in frogmen's suits was a bit strange. Different groups drew extra applause
from the crowd around us, though the reason/relevance escaped us. The march/drive-past took a couple of hours.