“This is heaven on earth”, the recently departed Stephen Hawking exclaimed when he gazed at the beauty of the Aegean sea, sun and sand of Samos island in 1998.
In the summer of that year, the famous physicist and his wife visited the island of the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras at the invitation of the University of the Aegean for a conference on cosmology.
His lecture about creation and the way the world operates had been a great success, and his seven-day stay in Greece caused a sensation.
According to Greek television news and a report written in To Vima newspaper at the time, the great cosmologist, who passed away on Wednesday, was very humble during the conference. He sat and listened to the lectures and presentations of his fellows, later enjoying what a summer night on a Greek island has to offer.
What impressed those who came near him the most was his enjoyment of life, saying that he bore no relation to the stereotype of the scientist who is aloof to everyday things.
From reports of the time, Hawking spent hours on the balcony of his hotel every morning, admiring the view.
“This is paradise on earth!” he had said. “What we physicists have to go through to serve science!” he added jokingly.
Hawking was impressed by Greek cuisine and enjoyed his meals on Samos. He liked taramosalata, briam and stew. But what he liked the most was tzatziki.
The late physicist had promised those who welcomed him on Samos that he liked it so much that he would return as a tourist. However, the great scientist never managed to fulfill his desire.