Visiting Athens activated a mixture of emotions like no other city before. I enjoyed many things from this trip, but was revolted by probably just as many other things.
The source of democracy, the beautiful places and the captivating stories were shadowed by the thieves, the dirt, the neglected buildings and the crazy roads.
I was really enthusiastic about this vacation. Probably even more than I am with every other occasion when I get to travel and explore new places. And that’s because we were taking with us my parents and my parents-in-law. Quite a group, I think you will agree on that 🙂 ! So I had made a very thorough list of the things that I wanted to show them. But I failed to read well about the safety rules and the places to avoid.
So here is our story, how we got robbed two times on the same day and the red-alert zones from Athens.
The Red-Alert Zones
Omonia Square is actually one of the most important squares from the city.
After Greece became an independent state in 1832, and Athens was named the Capital city, two major squares were built: Syntagma Square (The Parliament Square) and Omonia Square. They are connected by a well known boulevard, Panepistimiou, lined by all the major banks and university buildings.
But the national importance of Omonia doesn’t make it safe or clean at all. Because it’s a paradise for thieves and apparently drug dealers as well. And the secondary streets that branch from this square, you’d better try to avoid at night time. It’s actually at Omonia that we were first robbed, but in the underground, in the metro-station.
Victoria Square is one metro station away from Omonia.
This is actually where we booked our AirBnb Apartment. I was so happy to find a good apartment in such a central area, close to the Victoria Subway station and at a walking distance from many of Athens attractions. But while the apartment was nice, the neighborhood was so dirty and smelly and populated with all sorts of characters and I would not recommend staying here. Better consider staying 4-5 metro stations away from the central area. On the last night in Athens, we had to change accommodation somewhere close to the Agios Dimitrios metro station. This neighborhood was cleaner and felt safe and accommodating.
Monastiraki Square is also one of their most important and historic squares.
Roman Agora starts here and Ancient Agora is just a few minutes away. But because it is a magnet for tourism and it’s crowded most of the times, it’s also a home for the thieves and beggars. Ermou street is on one side of Monastiraki Square and is packed with ruined buildings and trash, and the narrow streets that converge from it are filthy and smelly so much that I’d wish I had a mask to wear over my mouth and nose.
Between Monastiraki metro station and Omonia metro station, we got robbed again for the second time.
Because all the bad things in Athens happened to us in the metro trains, it’s where I advise you to watch your back the most and hold on tight to your belongings.
Watch over your shoulder – How we got robbed
I think the first mistake that we made, was to look too much as tourists. We were a big group of 6 people, holding maps, quite cheerful and dressed for vacation. It was actually like holding a big flashy sign for TOURISTS.
In my own and personal case, because I have traveled a lot, I’m probably excessively cautious, with my stuff. But my parents were not. Although, they actually were too. But these thieves, they are just so good at what they do…
We were at Omonia metro station, changing trains. When getting into the train, a big guy went before me and my mother, and he was blocking the way. So obviously a lot of people got crammed behind us and this guy. I told him to make way and pushed him aside. I managed to pass, but he then quickly blocked my mother. And before managing to take her besides me, her wallet got stolen from her backpack. Fortunately, it was empty of money and documents… Just an old wallet so it was not a fruitful steal for the thief!
All this experience made us even more cautious, but cautious is not enough.
That same day, when returning from Monastiraki Square, in the metro train again, my father was holding his bag tight with his hand in front of his chest. You don’t want to be robbed again, right!? But, even so, a thief still tried to steal from him by opening one of the smaller pockets. But my father saw his move, made a shout at him, and the thief just calmly left, no other person actually appearing surprised or trying to help in any way. Part of the daily life happenings I guess… And all this time, we did not see any guardians inside the metro stations or the metro trains. We actually did not see any police in the crowded squares of Athens…
So, the final note is that you should make a good research not only about the places that you want to visit, but also the places that it’s best to avoid.
Well, don’t worry though, I have also good things to say about Athens. Keep an eye for the next Travel Article about Athens, that will be a lot more cheerful, I promise:).
Visited at the end of August, 2018
6 thoughts on “Athens – survival guide and safety rules – how they steal from you”
It’s so sad when memories of beautiful cities are tarnished by petty crimes. Local governments really need to do more to prevent theft from their people and from tourists.
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Yes, that’s absolutely the truth. Because I was now thinking about Plaka area in Athens, and the Acorpolis and the streets around, and there’s such a good vibe there, especially in the evening, when everybody goes out for dinner in the cute taverns. But because of that horrible day we had, I will probably tend most of the times to associate Athens with theft and chaos rather that all the other pleasant things that we experienced.
I strongly do think that the authorities should do much more, it’s such a pity for the city.
Oh no, such a shame a visit to a historic city had to include the awful experience of being robbed. I know it can happen anywhere but when travelling we just want to be left with good memories. I agree with Carly, local governments need to step in and step up… especially in a country that benefits so much from tourists and the money they bring. I’ll look forward to reading about the things you enjoyed in Athens.
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Thank you Helen, yes, I’m actually really upset not because I didn’t like the city, because I actually really liked it. But as you said, this blurs so much the good memories and feelings. And the most unnerving thins is, just as you pointed out, that authorities should actually put more effort into maintaining a decent level of safety. We saw no guardian, none, in the metro, and I then read that it;s where most of this types of robberies happen. Well, but it’s actually good lessons learned:)) I will document myself better about a place to visit, at least when I have to take care about others, not just me:)) like my parents
Îmi pare rău că ați avut parte de astfel de incidente, dar e bine că n-a fost mai serios, că n-ați rămas fără acte. Am mai auzit cazuri din Atena chiar cu români turiști furați de români “la treabă”. 😦 Eu nici măcar nu i-am văzut/remarcat pe acolo, iarna sunt mai puțin activi probabil.
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Pai ce sa zic, si la noi unul cel putin era de-al nostru. Si nu zic doar dpdv statistic:)) ci ptr. ca am pus apoi cap la cap niste ‘faze’ si erau Romani. E o situatie foarte trista, insa tot mi-as fi dorit sa vad oameni de ai legii pe acolo, cred ca ar schimba un pic planurile astora.. si ceva mai multa curatenie:)) nici asta nu ar strica in zona centrala