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Safety for non-white females

Los Angeles...
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Safety for non-white females

I am an Asian American young female, and I am planning to go to Athens and Santorini in March. I will be going with my young Black English friend. With the financial crisis, I heard that non-white people are more likely to be victimized now (due to blaming immigrants and foreigners). How safe would it be for us to visit at this time?

We will be staying near the acropolis area (within 2 blocks of the acropolis museum). If we go out to clubs and bars at night, would that be dangerous for us? Would it be unsafe for us to walk around at night? Would we be likely sexually assaulted?

I have heard that crime was rising in Athens, but was still relatively low. How would the crime compare to US cities like Los Angeles or Chicago?

Thank you.

Athens, Greece
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1. Re: Safety for non-white females

<I heard that non-white people are more likely to be victimized now (due to blaming immigrants and foreigners).>

You heard wrong.

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<I have heard that crime was rising in Athens, but was still relatively low. How would the crime compare to US cities like Los Angeles or Chicago?>

Athens is a kindergarden compared to Chicago. I have no experience of LA.

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Level of crime has indeed raised during the last 8 - 10 years but it stays relatively safe and among the safest capitals in Europe. Only possible threat for the average visitor, in my opinion, is pickpocketing.

So, violent crime is not a real problem. Pickpocketing can be though. Sensibly expected precautions you 'd take in any place tourists flock in large numbers should be taken. Some tips can be found here: www.wikihow.com/Prevent-Being-Pickpocketed

Keep in mind that normal places for pickpocketing are the means of public transportation ( especially in front of atm's for tickets, the escalators and crowded vehicles or subway wagons ) and the open air restaurants ( when a bag is left unattended on the back of a chair ).

The pickpocketing threat is a real threat but it is not dependent to color skin. It applies to all and it applies in any place in the world where tourists arrive in numbers. It s a real problem which can be dealt off.

Other than that, i would not think you 'd have any real problem.

Please do keep in mind that everyone ( Greeks or not ) is obliged to carry some kind of oficcial ID when in Greece. This applies to other European countries too.

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Don't mix skin color with problems. Greeks don't. They themselves don't pay any attention to these matters. They have substantial problems to make a good living, they work hard and, in general are honest people. Their biggest problem now is how to survive in a competitive environment with a myriad of taxes. Just that.

Edited: 2:46 am, January 24, 2012
Athens, Greece
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2. Re: Safety for non-white females

<Athens is a kindergarden compared to Chicago. I have no experience of LA.>

Chicago is kindergarten to LA ;-))))))

Hi Francine -

I want to echo what Nick has said. I live both in Athens and in Chicago, and I can say that Athens is by far a safer city than Chicago. I frequently walk home alone at night around both the historical center, as well as the neighborhood I live in behind the old Olympic Stadium, without any problems. I've never felt afraid, and I often walked my dog in the park near my house in Athens at night and never encountered anything threatening (something I cannot say I would feel comfortable doing in my Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago).

It is true that there are places I would not walk alone at night in Athens - but these are the same areas I would not have walked alone for many years (some of the deserted streets off of Omonia Square - although I have no problem walking in that area with a group of people). I'd say it is pretty unlikely you'd have any reason to be in that particular area at night during your time in Athens.

That said, Athens is still a big city, and like pretty much any big city in the world, you do need to use good judgement about things like the metro, as Nick said. Pickpockets do exist and they don't care about your gender, age, size, or race. My father was pickpocketed on the train coming back from the National Archaeological Museum a few years back (before the current crisis) and I once left my car window partly open and returned to find my briefcase gone (also before the current crisis). Use common sense (unlike me!) and don't hang your purse on the back of your chair, keep your belongings close by if riding public transportation when its crowded and you'll be fine.

As for concerns about racism in Greece: again, unlike what we are accustomed to in the US (or even in many places in northern Europe), racism is pretty rare. The Greeks are incredibly friendly, warm and welcoming to tourists, regardless of where they are from or what they look like - engage them, respect their country and you will find yourself making many friends.

Athens, Greece
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3. Re: Safety for non-white females

yes you will be safe in athens

however, athens is mostly greek, if you know what i mean, compared to say london which is incredibly ethnically diverse.

i am not saying this as a negative, just something that i notice.

i spent last saturday afternoon and evening in the gazi district of athens. it is a great area, until recently an industrial area. now it has loads of great bars, theatres tavernas etc it has a reputation as a bohemian arty and trendy and slightly alternative/gay area. every bar and restaurant was packed with mostly young people. in all the time i was there i only noticed one black person. of course there would have been others but i just never saw them.

have an evening out in the gazi district if you can, i love it there. everything is located around and off the main square with the metro station in the middle of it. it is a great area very close to the centre but less touristy i would say.

as two young women you will have a great time there. your colour will certainly not be commented on. as nick says, the greek people have far more pressing things to worry about than the colour of someones skin

Edited: 4:57 am, January 24, 2012
Manchester, United...
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4. Re: Safety for non-white females

When I stayed in Athens I was frankly shocked at the attitude of some towards immigrants. We were openly told by the hotel receptionist to avoid certain areas because they are 'full of immigrants'. She even went as far as to draw a boundry on the map for were we should or shouldn't go. Naturally, we still visited these areas, and it became clear that she was actually warning us away from areas with many African and Middle Eastern people in them, so while i can't conclusively know, I suspected that race played a huge part in her view. That she felt comfortable with telling two strangers in open suggests to me at least that attitudes towards race may be a little different in Athens that in the UK. I also have a friend from Thessaloniki who has lived in England for 2 years who told me that the Greek attitude towards race is not what is the norm in Anglo-American counturies. Of course, we shouldn't expect it to be so as attitudes towards race vary cross culturally, and many would argue that while in places like the UK and America people may not say offensive things, those attitudes still exist. Added on to this is the additional complication of nationality; I would expect that a black person from Britain would be more accepted than a black person from say, Ghana, for example. Of course none of this is substantiated and it nothing more than mere anecdotes.

Athens is a wonderful city and lots to see and offer. It is very safe at night, so just go and have fun but have your wits about you at all time.

Rhodes, Greece
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5. Re: Safety for non-white females

Athens has so many Immigrants nowadays that one of the above posts sounds confusing to me, to suggest you'll only see Greeks is wrong, infact there's areas of Athens where the Greeks are outnumbered by the Albanians, there's also more and more black Africans appearing in some central neighbourhoods, not to the same extent as say south London obviously, but they are there. Also there are a lot of foreign students at the universities, many foreign businessmen and women, diplomats, guest workers and tourists from all over the world, including Asians, they may not be as obvious in number as in an American, French or British city but they are there, and as a tourist(therefore a guest) you will be treated as a new friend, the fact you are a tourist will stand out more than the fact you are Asian or Black!

Crime levels are extremely low compared with the likes of Chicago or London, although Athens is a major international capital and a melting pot of all kinds of people, crime just isn't interwoven into Greek society in the same way it is in the USA, UK etc, especially violent crime, you just do as you would anywhere and keep your wits about you and be sensible with your valuables.

I'm from London, born and raised, and there's areas of my own city I won't go to, especially after dark, however i've also been all over Athens and other Greek cities and have never come across an area I would feel unsafe in.

London, United...
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6. Re: Safety for non-white females

In every society, every age has its scapegoats: the "alien" group whose fault everything is and on whom all miseries get blamed: the people who "come here taking our jobs", etc. In Greece it's currently the immigrants from Albania, etc. Race and colour would seem to have little to do with it - though I could be wrong about that.

As a tourist, no matter of what colour, you needn't expect any trouble.

I agree with Holidaybear's last paragraph.

Edited: 3:02 am, January 25, 2012
Athens, Greece
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7. Re: Safety for non-white females

goodness. there is certainly no area of london that i won't go to in daylight.

london is a fantastic city and i feel as safe there as i do in athens/greece.

the constant nagativity about london/uk is getting very boring. over the past year there have been so many posts praising athens at the expense of london.

if anybody on here dares to fault anything about greece, no matter how small, there is a barrage of what is really hate mail directed at them. the post is then usually removed and more often than not the thread quickly closed down. and yet some of the vile things said about london!!

i read the TA forums for other countries and it is only on the greek forums that this happens. for other countries you get a more balanced view.

greece, like every other country, has its faults. thats why so many people love it. lets all please try to stop this negativity about london, as it is also one of the best cities in the world

Edited: 4:08 am, January 25, 2012
Athens, Greece
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8. Re: Safety for non-white females

greek18, you were given sensible advice that could help you avoid a mugging or other unpleasant situations. Perhaps not worded in the most PC way but there are certain areas where you certainly need to keep your wits about you and they happen to be the poorest areas which are also the areas with most illegal immigrants. I am glad that nothing happened while you were there but as a resident of Athens I resent the implication that a hotel receptionist would lie to you and draw you a boundary to stay in because she's racist, bigoted or what have you. She was just trying to keep you safe.

And bobin, you are writing variations of the same complaints every time anyone dares compare London to Athens in any way. It is getting old. You can say with 100% certainty that no part of London at all is unsafe? Why do you invalidate other people's experiences like that? I wouldn't compare the two, personally, I haven't stayed in London much and I went to perfectly safe and nice areas but perhaps you need to stop seeing every comparison as an unfair attack?

Back to the original poster... this is an issue of class as much as race. I think it will be obvious enough that you are tourists and not immigrants so you should not expect any sort of trouble. Immigrants don't usually get any trouble either, there might be an isolated attack here and there but nothing like these reports you are mentioning.

Athens, Greece
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9. Re: Safety for non-white females

However you must agree that the vast majority of 'attacks' against London and of unfair comparisons in this forum, are actually coming from English people and not from Greeks.

IMO most Greeks love London and its a classic destination for them when they travel abroad.

For me its my favourite city and when I lived there I never felt unsafe, especially in the center even very late at night, but in some suburbs as well.

I suppose there are dodgy parts in London (its a huge city after all) and I wont argue about that with people who apparently have more experience on the subject than me.

Athens' major problem is that the dodgy areas are right in the very center of the city, sometimes right by famous landmarks ( eg, the huge drug market right next to the NAM ).

Athens, Greece
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10. Re: Safety for non-white females

evan76, i completely agree, almost always the attacks come from people from the uk. greek people tend to love london and the uk in my opinion

p-yannis. yes i do keep bringing this up, simply because it is so unfair. of course there are unsavoury parts of london, like everywere else. imagine for one minute if someone on here spoke about the very worst and most dangerous part of london, and then stated that it is no worse than many parts of athens (as was stated recently on here). would you or dozens of others on here just let that go? i think not. there would be a huge backlash and the post would be removed within the hour

it is possible to compare athens and london without it being a negative comparison, they both have great things to offer

Edited: 5:49 am, January 25, 2012