So you’ve probably been watching the recent news on Greece and let’s face it, it doesn’t look good, but is it really that bad?
In my opinion, speaking as a foreigner, honestly, no. I feel at this point I should state that I’m from Northern Ireland. To some the name of my country conjures up images of ghetto warfare, however, much like Athens, this isn’t really the case.
The images on your screens are of a troubled city, which there is no doubt about. However they project an image of city unable to function when the transport system comes to a halt. Protests getting out of control with civilians hurling stones while police retaliate with tear gas. Even these words paint a worrying picture, though this news will come as nothing new to the Greeks.
These protests and strikes have been happening for years and the Athenians are very well versed in being able to deal with the effects. Currently the economic spotlight is on Greece and it seems from the concerned calls from friends and family that the media are making it out to be some kind of war zone. Which of course it isn’t.
So what happens if you’re unlucky enough to be travelling in Athens on a day there’s strikes..
No public transport? You can just jump in one of the hundreds of taxis, we also organise taxi shares on days of strikes so the cost is reduced. So what happens when there’s no public transport and no taxis? To be honest, you have to be really unlucky for that to happen, but even in this case you can just ask around and a friend, local or even some taxi drivers (who will take you in their private cars) will be more than happy to offer a ride. The Athenians are generally pretty helpful when it comes to giving a lift to the airport or ferry port, for a small fee of course!
So you can get to the airport but not really much point if the plane is staying grounded. Yes, this has happened in the past two months but only once have all the planes actually stopped for 24 hours. On the other couple of occasions some flights have been delayed by a few hours and this isn’t anything out of the ordinary from my perspective, though maybe I’m just unlucky.
Then there comes the question about the riots, what’s the likelihood of getting caught up in the stone throwing tear-gas spraying war? Well if you’re the type of person who goes looking for cheap thrills then it’s probably pretty easy. Otherwise, you’re not even going to realise it’s happening. All the protests are concentrated at Syntagma Square directly opposite the parliament building and when protests are on the area is blocked off by police so, unless you really want to get a closer look, you’re not in any danger. I’ve been here for nearly three months now and although I’ve witnessed lively protests I have yet to be caught choking on tear-gas.
So whether or not me telling you things from my perspective reassures you or not remains to be seen, but rest assured, should you decide to come to Athens, you will be well looked after by all of us here at AthenStyle. ;)