Careful in Athens – 2 things I didn’t like in Athens
I dare to say that I am a very positive person who is always trying to find a good side to everything and everyone. The same goes when it comes to traveling and destinations I visit. However, being positive doesn’t mean that I will overlook negative things, if there are any. I acknowledge them and speak out loud about them but then focus on the positive things. That’s the right attitude, in my opinion. And that’s exactly why I decided to write this post about 2 things I didn’t like in Athens.
Also, there is this thing going on about how legit and honest bloggers are in their articles. Well, I am always super honest about everything, be it good or bad. But there’s a way of telling things, especially if they are not so good, right? And that’s one of the reasons why I am posting this article. I want my readers to know that not all the trips and destinations are just full of glamour.
It might sound surprising but I visited Greece for my first time only in the end of May 2018.
Greece has always been one of my dream destinations, especially when it comes to beach and sea view goals. Some Greek islands seem to have the most photogenic views in Europe, right? So it makes no sense that I finally found time to visit Greece only in 2018 after many years of traveling. And my first time was not on an island, but in the capital.
I am not a city girl but I do enjoy spending a few days in big cities. Their hectic energy make me feel more alive. And Athens is an incredible city, let me tell you. For lovers of history and architecture, it couldn’t be more perfect. And although I post mostly beach, pool and spa photos, as a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist (I mean who didn’t?!) All old buildings, destroyed walls and remains of castles and palaces put a smile on my face and warm up my heart. So I hope you can imagine how happy my soul was when strolling around Athens, the city full of historic monuments.
However, there were a couple of things and situations I did not enjoy in Athens. And if you ever visit the Greek capital, you’d better be aware of them. It’s always good to learn from others’ mistakes, right?
2 things I didn’t like in Athens
1. Slippery pavements
I am one of those people who walk as much as possible. I wear a step counter on my left hand and check my steps every day. I try to walk at least 10,000 steps per day, which is 7 to 8 km. And when exploring a big city, I walk everywhere. I hardly ever take public transportation as while walking to the main attractions, I always discover unknown places, those that are not so known to tourist masses. And that’s exactly what I did in Athens, too.
In 3 days and a half I walked 54.88 km around Athens.
But at times it was not so easy. The pavements are extremely slippery. I slipped many times and almost fell 3 times. Thankfully, just almost. And I also saw a few other people slipping. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to walk there after rain or in winter when it’s all icy.
TIP: When climbing up to the Acropolis I definitely recommend you to wear good walking shoes, NO high heels and NO shoes with smooth rubber shoe sole. Frankly, if I were you, I’d wear comfy shoes all the time while exploring Athens.
2. Athens can be dangerous
I would really like you to learn from my mistake and avoid walking around 2 neighborhoods: Omonia (Omonoia) and Exarchia. Especially, pay extra caution if you are a solo female traveler. After the first day with a friend, I spent the following 3 days in Athens on my own once he left. As I didn’t know anyone else in town at that point, I had to walk everywhere on my own.
I was staying at a hotel in Omonia just a few metres from the Omonia square and I didn’t feel very safe there, I admit. There were some weird people at the streets staring at me, trying to talk to me, and even following me.
That’s why I only went out of the hotel in the morning and came back before sunset and then just stayed in my room working on my travel blog without going out at night. Just in case. Just to be safe. I heard that Omonia is one of the worst neighborhoods and even though I didn’t have much time to explore all Athens, I can honestly say I won’t go back to Omonia alone if I ever return to the city. But it was my fault not having done enough research before my stay and simply booking any hotel at an affordable price without actually knowing if it was located in a safe area.
And then on my last day after checking out from my hotel, I wanted to try another good vegan restaurant before I’d leave the city. I still had half an hour until their opening hour so decided to walk around Exarchia, a local neighborhood I hadn’t been to yet. Usually I like visiting local parts of the cities as they are very different to those touristy ones. But this time I didn’t enjoy my 30-minute walk at all.
I was on the phone with my mum when I spotted a weird stranger following me everywhere I turned. I was just strolling around turning anywhere, left and right so it was odd to see someone following my random steps. The guy was shorter than me, seemed local, and kept following me for more than 20 minutes. I finished the call with mum and told her I was going to the restaurant already. Didn’t tell her anything about that weirdo so she wouldn’t worry. I turned back and started walking faster towards the restaurant.
It was still 10 minutes until their official opening hour but thankfully they had the door open so I asked a staff member if I could come in already and wait there until they open for lunch. The weirdo stayed outside but for my biggest surprise, when I left the restaurant 40 minutes later with a happy stomach, he was still there across the street running towards me at the zebra crossing. I was shocked! I started walking faster again crossing the street away from him.
“Are you kidding me?! Leave me alone!” I screamed showing him my middle finger.
Then I turned right and tried to hide in the middle of the crowd at the street. 5 minutes later I got to my hotel, grabbed both bags and left running to the metro station to leave to the airport 2 hours earlier than necessary. After that experience I didn’t feel safe in that area any more and I was also very tired to keep walking with my bags anywhere else. So I took it easy and went to the airport instead.
I won’t lie to you. I didn’t feel ok for 2 hours after that incident with a guy following me. I hadn’t been in a similar situation for many years so it was a bit of a shock. When I was younger, I was followed by a few strangers when on the road but I always managed to get rid of them somehow walking fast and turning here and there. But this happened after years of feeling very safe everywhere.
Thankfully, it was during the mid-day and nothing happened to me, nor too my expensive gear. Years ago I did some Thai boxing which I wouldn’t mind to use if necessary. But I’m really glad it never got to that point. However, here I confess that I won’t go alone to Exarchia nor Omonia neighborhoods of Athens ever again. And unless you are in a couple or better in a group, I don’t recommend you to visit those neighborhoods either.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean that I won’t ever go to Athens again because I’m sure I will. Despite of the 2 things I didn’t like in Athens, I fell in love with the city anyway. Aw, all those breath-taking historic monuments. There’s a ruined building dating back to BC around every corner. What else can a wanna-be archaeologist wish for? ?
I do recommend you to visit the Greek capital, but please just be careful in Athens.