Athens is Amazing, but Watch Out Your Purse

I can’t help the persistent urge of sharing my experience after travelling to Greece in September 2019. I’m more than sure, that everybody is more or less aware of uniqueness of Greece as a country, with its amazing islands, shores and the capital, rich of history and traditions, countless sightseeing spots that require months, if not years, to be visited and enjoyed. Athens is absolutely thrilling, with its mesmerizing monuments of the ancient history and culture, the remains of the Byzantine heritage. This is the fascinating city that calls you to come back again and again. Although, there are some things that you should know if you decided to visit this germ of the world’s civilization and history, in order to be safe and enjoy this amazing experience.

I visited Athens, Greece for the second time and decided to see my friends and the second largest city of the country – Thessaloniki for a couple of days. I enjoyed my stay together with friends at the beautiful Salonica, port city on the Thermaic Gulf with its appealing sunny shores, sandy beaches, colorful pebbles, visible transparently under the glass-clear water and the tranquil Aegean sea.

I arrived back to Athens by night train. Thanks God I took the 1st class tickets and the journey was nice, although the toilet was very close to our compartment and I would say not quite clean, even though it was the 1st class. I hoped to go to the restroom in Athens central railway station upon arrival, but I found no paper and no soap there to wash my hands.

I arrived at 5:10 in the morning and needed to take a metro to the airport, so I waited in the cafe Everest, next to the Larissis railway station, where there is some good coffee and WiFi, but no restroom or water, to wash hands and just to fresh yourself, no lofty ambitions, I think.

I waited there until the metro opened. I was told metro starts at 6:30, so I had time to take my coffee and at 6:30 exactly I moved down to the metro, adjacent to the station and the cafe. There were almost no people there, no staff, just a few passengers. I was concerned not to be late to the airport and asked a lady, which way should I take to the airport line. A man, most presumably immigrant (I was told Albanian migrants are the most famous in making living on that in Greece) approached me, Kindly offering that he’ll show me the way. He picked up my suitcase, without my permission and went to the direction of the staircase to the cafe, from which I just came down. I realized something was wrong and followed him, telling him I didn’t need his help and trying to take my suitcase from him, which he was raising constantly up, so I couldn’t reach it. I immediately figured out that he was not alone, looked back and saw another man running down the stairs, I grabbed my small waist bag in front of me, but it was already open and there was no purse in it, both guys were running down the stairs. They were very quick and organized, as usually all the thieves are everywhere. I started shouting that I was robbed and I lost all my money and passport, asking people to call police, but nobody bothered themselves to call police, neither in the cafe, nor in the railway station, no one was surprised, except for the two tourists, who could do nothing, like myself. People were indifferent and smiling, as if nothing happened, nobody did anything, someone told me the police would be open at 8 o’clock! I rushed back to the metro, with the hope to see some personnel there and indeed, I saw a lady sitting behind the window. There was no light in their office yet, I’m not sure was it an information office or a ticket box office, whatsoever, I asked her to help me, telling her that I needed police. She asked me if my purse was black and handed it to me, with my passport in it. She said a passenger brought it to her. I was already very emotional, I thanked her and hit the road to the airport, to catch my flight. Thanks God I was lucky to catch it. This happened in the central station of Athens, Greece, in the center of the capital city! I wonder if there are any cameras in the metro station, or does police exist there at all?

Greece is considered to be the cradle of humanity, civilization and Western democracy, it’s an ancient country, where the philosophy started, it gave to the world the most valuable of its cultural heritage. I can’t make head or tail of it, what’s wrong with the country now? I’m really upset with this incident and with the overall criminal situation in Athens. At least the central railway station of the capital city has to have some security measures in place and demonstrate more respect to their passengers, who pay money to the company. I don’t know whether it’s municipal or private service, more likely private, but its standards are below the expectations.

I hope the wave of improvements will take place at some stage in Greece, this beautiful pearl of Europe. Nevertheless, until that happens, beware of pick-pockets and watch out your purse or personal belongings, don’t take night trains or cheap hotels, in order to enjoy your trip to the maximum extent in the absolutely marvelous Greece, which deserves more care indeed.

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