| Innisfree Poetry
| Enskyment Journal
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It was late at night when the earthquake hit us while on
holiday in Greece more than 10 years ago now. Myself and a few friends had gone
to an all-inclusive trip to the capital Athens and its surrounding areas.
We were at our hotel near the centre of Athens, sun-basking and baking in the
hot sun, while touring. Acropolis and the many beautiful archaeological sites of
the city for more than a week, when the disaster struck us.
My two friends Anne and Sue were sitting quietly watching an English film on the
greek television while I was tidying up some holiday clothes in my wardrobe in
the hotel room. Things were quiet at that time, it was around 11.30 pm and
Athens below us from the 5th floor of our pretty hotel room was quiet as it
usually is in Athens at that time of night, except for a few touring buses
loaded with foreign visitors checking in at our hotel, and a few other hotels in
our large but quiet street.
'Shower curtain fall......... I heard the television actor call out, and
overheard my 2 friends laughing loudly at the content of the film.
It took only 3-4 minutes but the after effect was violent, and the shock of it
enormous. A loud bang and an awful feeling of being pushed made me lose my
senses for a few seconds and fall forwards towards my 2 friends watching the
television. I was so afraid....... I thought I saw death in front of me.......
the lights went quickly off, I heard my 2 friends scream.........
'Oh God................. what happened...................? screamed out Emily my
best friend. The lights only took 2 minutes to come back on as the earthquake
was over quite quickly.
'We are going to die" I am going to die".................. Joan my other friend
screamed simultaneously with Anne tears rolling down their eyes from shock and
All the news pieces on television, film and other media publishings about
earthquakes had I think left us completely unimpressed or perhaps to be most
certain an earthquake was at the back of our minds. To many people earthquakes
are something normal waiting to happen unexpectedly just another natural
phenomenon nothing to worry about in the present at least. Most should be quite
mild and not to be feared. Greece is a centre amidst many earthquakes, and
unavoidable at times so holiday's there don't have to be avoided. But you need
to be in an actual earthquake to believe the whole horrific story. The more than
loud noises, the horrible shaking, the unstoppable fear, the buildings leaning
forward and some collapsing like playing cards.
When the lights came back on, we 3 were completely dumfounded. We didn't know
what to think after the initial shock was over. We quickly checked around the
room for any badly damaged walls, or falling debris or the ceiling just about to
collapse on us, our very best and safest next thought was to leave the hotel
building as quietly as possible, in case another afterquake arrived too quick
for us to become trapped in our room, and hell would break lose.
Emily took it a bit more calmly than the rest of us did, and started to laugh it
off, as if nothing had really happened. "Just a little earthquake" she said, "I
mean we are all ight now, nothing to worry about any more". I quietly agreed to
the suggestion although inside me I was trembling with fear. "Let's turn on the
tv see if there is a news broadcast about this" I said and quickly switched back
on the hotel room television.
"The earthquake we experienced tonight in Athens, was also felt in Peloponnese
and some other remote parts of Greece, and it was measured as 7.5 on the Richter
scale, which is indeed very strong. The reports are coming in that there have
been some minor damages to buildings around Athens and the Attica and 2
buildings are now known to have collapsed with several members of the public
injured and 10 people have been killed in the Vouliagmeni area 20km south east
As the newscaster went on and on, we heard the noise of several fire engines and
an ambulance pass below us and stood at our hotel window to stare at what was
going on below us in disbelief. Crowds and crowds of people were rushing back
and forth in the large street and in the neighbouring streets. We opened the
window to enter more into the scene and hear all the people screaming and crying
from the fear and anxiety the earthquake caused.
Just then, we heard a tap on the door. Emily went to open it. "I am sorry....
"said the unkown voice to us "are you all right.....stared at us the tall figure
of a young woman,' me and my friend Susan are right next door to you......we
felt the terrible earthquake, and are in complete shock....did not know what to
do.....I'm.... I'm... sorry to disturb you, we just wanted to make sure you are
okay... we heard you screaming...you know....we all felt this terrible
thing..... we just like to make sure that other occupants in this floor are at
' we are ok. at the moment' Emily answered and thank you so much for your
concern..... please do come in... just now (maybe better if all of us were
together.....) her voice still shaky from the shock........
After we exchanged names and we got to know each other a little, we just sat in
our hotel room for a little while, chatting nervously of the awful nightime
event we experienced thinking of what to do next.
Susan and her best friend Jackie explained to us they had come to Greece for a
once in a lifetime trip they had saved for from their savings for the last 2
years now and were enjoy it to the full they told us. Just minutes later, just
as we were talking to the hotel concierge called us from the reception desk,
asking to make sure we were allright and also came to us and others in the hotel
personally to let us know about an urgent meeting for all the guests and staff,
about the hotels after the earthquake. Feeling relieved a bit because we felt
that going down below was maybe safer than being upstairs, we quickly went
downstairs to the hotel lobby to await instructions by the quick thinking hotel
manager and staff. The hotel was quiet at that time as many of the guests had
gone out to spend the night in restaurants etc around Athens. Myself and my
friends were thinking a safe place, like a haven in Athens to get away from it
all, as the danger of the nearby buildings falling onto us in the event of an
aftermath made us very nervous. We 3 then decided to venture outside the hotel,
leaving our 2 newfound friends chat nervously to the hotel manager and other
guests and some hotel staff about our immediate earthquake future.....
The streets outside were crammed to the full with people, screaming and talking
loudly from fear, many of them unable to calm down, and children crying after
being woken up roughly from their nightsleep in the middle of the night.
Our street was separated from the other side by a small square which now was
inundated by an enormous amount of people sitting at their tents, too afraid to
go back inside their buildings across the street. We went back to our hotel,
very nervous of a sudden aftermath falling on us, and then sitting nervously at
some of the lobbys' chairs thinking what to do. Therre was no immediate need to
leave the hotel, as it was not damaged luckily, by the first earthquake, so the
only thing at the time was to waite and see what happened next. 2- 3 passed, it
was almost dawn, and we did not experience an aftermath, to which we were very
relieved. It was early in the morning and we were tired and sleepy, and the
streets outside had gone quiet, with the people outside having fallen asleep in
the tents. At about 3 in the morning we felt a bit better and decided to go back
to our room. We sort of slept a few hours, then unexpectedly had an aftershock
around 7 am. Anne sat up roughly woken from her sleep. 'Oh no...not again...'she
exclaimed. The aftershock woke us all up and even after we heard on the news
channel that it was a mild one, only 4.7 on the Richter scale we could not get
to sleep again, so got up and sat in our room sofa, expecting and waiting
anything new to happen, to die instantly from another strong aftershock, who
The aftershocks continued for more than a week, but luckily they were more mild
than the first 2 and slowly everything in Athens returned to normal. We were on
a 3 week holiday and when all the shocks seized, we managed to have a great rest
of our holiday in splendid sunshine near some glorious beaches and without any