Actualizado: 11 oct 2018
We got trapped in the middle of a Civil Protest in Downtown Athens.
"To all of the young people out there who are creating social change or even fomenting social movements: hold on to your idealism and your belief in your ability to change the world. Your lofty goals demand attention and deserve support"
I have always been a fervent advocator of Social Protests, as they are imperative in order to fight for the indispensable rights everyone deserves as human beings. Furthermore, I truly believe that's one of the best ways to conglomerate with others in an "action group" with a common purpose. Nontheless, when you are planning a trip you think about the city's history, the principal attractions, museums, art galleries, hostels, restaurants, night clubs or even concerts and special events, but we forget to check something even more important, which is our own safety.
We had a pretty long trip from Brindisi, Italy to Patras and then, Athens in Greece and very uncomfortable I must add, trip that I explained in an independent post (check "from Italy to Greece by Ferry"). When we finally got to the Bus Station in Athens it was quite complicated to find the place we rented. It was a basement apartment right in City Centre, which was great, that we rented via AirB&B. We didn't imagine how difficult was to communicate with natives in Athens; I understand Greece is a country where people speak another language, but we thought it was easier for a Capital City to communicate and find an address, anyways, when we finally got to the apartment, we took a long nap until we woke up around 7 pm and decided to take a walk in the neighborhood. We were enjoying what we were looking because we personally think Athens is very similar to some parts of Mexico City.
We arrived in a beautiful plaza which is the start of a commercial corridor full of stores of a very well known brands, but we saw a vast amount people yelling, running and even fighting but suddenly they left as they were persecuted by the police an some people dressed like soldiers, I'm not sure if they were actually soldiers though, they look like the Mexican soldiers, so we assume they were. Then, we realized that we were in the middle of a social protest although they were not a lot of people anymore. We could not understand what they were saying as they were speaking in their own language but they caused a total riot in all the area.
As you can appreciate in the picture, the windows of every store were destroyed. People attacked different stores through the corridor and threw rocks, and other materials at the windows and obviously the alarms were sounding very loud and the police and soldiers sprayed "pepper spray"to dismantle the Protestant Groups who were causing the outrages. In that moment my brother and I were right in the middle of the protest and Pepper gas, or the rest of it, managed to get in my eyes, causing a severe burn and making me tear endlessly for several minutes.
We tend to think we know how to react properly in a situation like this, and perhaps we know when we know in advance what we're about to face in a protest like that. Besides, I should say, it is totally different when you decide to attend one of this movements. In Greece of course people speak another language, and pretty difficult by the way, at least for Spanish speakers like myself and my brother who accompanied me to this trip. We could take a short video about that.
As you can see on the video, a lot of stores were destroyed and even ATM's in the whole Commercial Corridor. I share some of the images we could take after the accident and how the windows of the stores were violated and destroyed in many cases.
Photographs taken by LosMiserables©
It is very important to check what is going on in the Country and City you are traveling. Some Countries are currently passing through social, economic and/or political problems that might affect some touristic places as it was this case in Athens.
For more information about safety issues in the Country to plan to visit.
If you are Canadian you can visit the Government of Canada's official one-stop-shop for comprehensive international travel information https://travel.gc.ca/
If you are Mexican, you can visit the website "La guía del viajero" of the "Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores" https://www.gob.mx/guiadelviajero
For other countries check the official Government Platforms and websites to get all the official information you need before your trip.
It is crucial to check all the official information and everyday updates about International Security.
In case you are facing a Social Riot you should try to find a safe place to take shelter until you can get help or wait until the place gets quite again. In case of a major problem, try to go to your embassy and get the proper help you might need.
It is very important to keep in mind anything like this can happen to you while you are traveling and even when we support Social Protests, we need to understand we live in a complicated world full of social, economic and political conflicts and everyone should do some research about that too when planning a trip to anyplace in the world. As I already said, you can check the official Government Websites for more information and have a pleasant trip!
"All travel tips and experiences shared on this blog are based on my personal experience and points of view, besides, all photographies published were taken by me or my travel companions, or, cited in accordance with the Norms of Copyright established by the American Association of Psychology ". MachadoK