Ask my son what he wants to be when he grows up, and he’ll give you a very specific answer. He wants to be a conductor on the Athens Metro, specifically Line 1, the Green Line. He plans to come back to Athens when he grows up so he can fulfill his dream. Now, of course, I’m hoping his dream will lean more toward engineering mass-transit systems for metropolitan areas as he gets older. He’s got the mind for it. But for now I’m happy to indulge his little obsession. We’ve ridden the entire Green Line from Piraeus to Kifissia, and we’ve ridden almost the entire Blue Line (holding us back is a 10 Euro fee to ride all the way to the airport). His last day of school is tomorrow, and I’m poring over Athens4Kids to come up with fun sight-seeing ideas for the summer. He tells me all he wants to do is ride the Red Line from terminus to terminus. So we’ve got one day planned at least…
This morning Liam was full of questions: when was the Green Line built? Why are some of the stations nice and others are old? So I jumped on wiki to find out. And it turns out the Green Line is even older than I suspected, built in 1869! The original track extended from Piraeus to Thiseio, and it was a steam engine that ran completely above ground. In 1904 they converted it to electric, and they spent the next 50 years extending the track all the way to Kifissia. In the early ’90s they constructed the Red and Blue Lines to help ease congestion and smog (I hate to think what traffic would be like now without it!), and it wasn’t until 2013 that they opened the Tram Line that we took to the Averof Battleship and to the beach. Along the way they discovered archeological sites, which were preserved and displayed in many of the stations.
The most interesting thing I discovered is that there are plans underway to construct a 4th Line, the Orange Line. Set to break ground next year, the Orange Line should be up and running by 2025. Liam will be 16. I told him we wouldn’t still be living here by then, but maybe he could come back the summer between senior year in high school and freshman year in college, like a lot of students do. Besides, the train may not be ready by 2025…this is Greece, afterall. Better to give them a couple of extra years.
And it looks like there are plans to extend all of the other subway lines, as well. It’s funny to think so far in the future and whether Liam will still be interested in trains. I can just picture him, all grown up (sniff), eyes glued to the windows as he rides each line from end to end, just like he did with his mom and baby sister when he was seven years old.