On site guards, Athens, politicians, deficit data, migrants

Dear foreign tourist to Athens,

Please forgive us who live in Athens and are grateful for the tourist who visit our country.

I am an American who has lived in this beautiful country for 25 years. I took my 8-year-old daughter for a long-overdue visit to the Acropolis, today. We haven't been in a couple of years and she was thrilled to go to celebrate the first day of spring. It has been a long and difficult winter for all of us living here!

Upon arriving at the top of the Acropolis and as we were admiring the beauty of the Parthenon, our peace of mind was violently interrupted by the repeated whining of a whistle. Of course, the whistle gets your attention; so of course, we looked to see what the commotion was all about. It was one of the guards of the Acropolis trying explain to a middle-aged Asian tourist that she couldn't put her umbrella down on the ground to have her photo taken! Obviously they did not speak a common language, so instead of perhaps smiling at her and picking up her umbrella to explain she shouldn't put it on the ground, he just kept blowing his whistle -- over and over and over, quite aggressively.

About five minutes later, while admiring the splendor of the Erechtheion, I heard the whistle going off again. This time there was a middle-aged, well-dressed American couple who were being screamed at by the same guard. As I speak Greek, I approached the guard and told him that we should be trying to treat our precious tourist much better. Of course, this guard immediately made me the villain and asked «who I was?? Then he went off with a barrage of insults. All of this was with my 8-year-old daughter beside me. I apologized to the tourist and walked off. I saw this couple a few minutes later and apologized for the behavior of this guard. They were surprised to find out that this man was a guard, as they rightfully pointed out, he didn't have a uniform (I noticed he was wearing a small «nametag» type badge).

I asked them what led up to the shouting match and they explained that they got too close to a broken stone wall (without touching it) and had a strange man whistling at them. When they asked what he wanted, he got very aggressive and made them open their small camera bag, as though they had stolen something. They didn't know he was a guard and needless to say, started to shout because they thought he was a thief. It was this couple's first trip ever to Athens and they have most likely spent a great deal of money to get to the Acropolis, only to have their day ruined by a rude and overreacting employee of the Greek government.

So, my daughter and I carried on for another 10-15 minutes and on our way out saw the same guard harassing two German tourists (who had introduced themselves while I was explaining some of the history of Athens to my daughter). These two mild-mannered, well-dressed gentlemen were showing their camera to the guard. Mercifully, there was no whistle blowing! The two men walked down the hill together and I asked them if the guard had been bothering them. They said that he had made them delete a couple of photos, that one had taken of the other one, hopping up in the air while standing in front of the Parthenon. They had a good laugh, because they had deleted them from the camera, but not from the memory stick, so they managed to «get the shot.? The German taxpayers are bailing out the Greek government to pay this guard's salary, but they can't take a photo hopping? Let's give the guard the benefit of doubt: perhaps you shouldn't take a photo hopping into the air, but I am sure there is a more diplomatic way of addressing the problem.

I would like to know where there is the warning that you can't put your umbrella on the ground in order to take a photo, why you have to open your bag to a guard who doesn't identify himself as such and/or why you can't take a picture hopping into the air. I would also like to know why one can't have a non-stressful day out with your 8-year-old? I took my daughter to teach her about her Greek heritage and to take pride in her country. Instead, we both left with a feeling of hopelessness for the fate of our beloved home.

I am sending these comments to the Greek National Tourist Organization and while I don't want him to be punished, I would like the Greek National Tourist Organization to know that maybe the guard staff needs a slight bit of «hospitality training» about how to interact with our most valuable and precious commodity.

Michelle D. Ballard

Re: Striking Sotiria Hospital workers storm administrator's office

Another prepubescent action against law and good manners. Refusing help in emergency cases is a crime, and storming someone?s office to bitch and moan just makes disturbances.

How many of these responsible-minded indignants have taken bribes or are involved in other criminal activities to plunder their employers and their communities?

Yoss Newman


I live in a city which has education as one of its main industries. Billions come into the city every year from fee-paying students.

Another benefit is you have very young people come and pay to get educated, and, Greece will have the ability to keep the smarter ones forever. The IQ levels of the country will double in no time.

If the Greek education system can be freed up from the monopoly control of the left-wing unions and a small number of the employed, an industry that is greater than the shipping or tourist industry can be developed in time.

The geographical location of Greece and its existing infrastructure lends itself to creating a new industry.

The only thing Greeks need to do is to give their fellow citizens who want to work and pay taxes the freedom to do so.

Running Greece like a Stalinist backward state has not worked; it?s about time Greeks accepted a free and democratic state. The alternatives to a democratic and free state will destroy Greece as an independent state. Greece was created by the Colonial States and they can quiet easily cleanse the World of something that is a stinking problem.

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos


PASOK found 250,000 people to vote? From what Planet did they find these idiots? Were they buried in deep caves 50 years ago and dug up to vote now? Can one small country have so many morons?

If the people who were in Parliament the last 10 years were company directors they would be jailed for a minimum of 25 years for bankrupting the company they were entrusted with.

Putting the same people back in Parliament, no matter what party, will be like throwing Greece back in the sewer. All the parliamentarians Greece has had in the last 10 years were idiots. Greece will be seen more of an idiotic country when it puts the same idiots back in Parliament.

Every Parliamentarian who ignored the finances is guilty of a crime. Why put criminals back in Parliament?

A friend as far back as 10 years was asking me to do something for Greece, and he was frantic about Greece five years ago from all the reports he was reading on the Internet and information investment organisations were sending him.

I kept thinking a country that has more politicians per head of population than any other European country would have one speak up at the right time and change course. I thought that if a Greek did not speak up, a friendly European would have given a reminder you cannot live on borrowings forever.

Next elections I will vote for anybody who does not belong to an existing party and is not related to anyone who is. Please, please do the same, or, we will all be holding hands and crying in twelve months, as Greece sinks forever.

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos

Re: Deficit data

Interesting article concerning the deficit data.

To my opinion only one conclusion is valid now:

- In Greece you do have political parties that deny reality and resist any responsibility.

- There are political parties that lie about reality when in power and resist any responsibility for this lying and not reacting to this reality with valid measures.

- And there are political parties that can't deny reality anymore when in power, but when not lying about reality they have to take responsibility concerning valid measures that prevent reality does get worse. The result of this responsibility will be 'not in power anymore' after the next elections.

To my opinion this is the perfect definition of a madhouse.

Hans van der Schaaf

Re: Migrant camp to be set up near Kozani

Wow elections are coming up and all of a sudden Citizens? Protection Minister Mr Chrysochoidis has had a brain explosion. Mr Chrysochoidis has now discovered that inner Athens has an illegal immigration problem. How long did it take him to work that one out? Now he has a plan to deport 3,000 of them near Kozani, what about the rest of them? Keep in mind this is his second stint as citizens? protection minister after doing such a wonderful job the first time round. The day he manages to clean up the centre of Athens from illegal immigrants, drug traffickers, prostitutes and criminals is the day we will all win the Lotto.

George Salamouras


Politicians? credentials

Has any Greek politicians been successful in the private sector? As a business owner, or CEO or anything? What are the credentials of this lot of 300 clowns?

Lionel Luthor

It's not Panepistimiou that needs revamping!

Regarding the article reporting that The Onassis Foundation is due to launch an international architectural competition for a revamp of the centre of Athens, it is astounding to hear that the initiative will focus upon Panepistimiou Street. For it is not the Panepistimiou, Stadiou, and Akadimias area which desperately needs attention: it is instead the slums south and west of Omonoia Square, stretching south into Psirri and west into Metaxourgeio, just 15 minutes' walk from the heart of Athens. In these areas are countless derelict buildings and a great deal of filth and squalor, the streets inhabited by scores of drug-pushers and drug-users.

This is the no-go area of central Athens where young men can be seen unashamedly injecting themselves on the pavements or lolling rather menacingly in doorways. So this is the area upon which The Onassis Foundation and city administrators should be focussing.

Visitors to Athens cannot be kept to proscribed routes. They cannot be confined to the business area, the Plaka, and the Acropolis. Visitors like to venture off the beaten track at least a little and find a bit of the real Athens. But unfortunately «the real Athens» has long been neglected and it is an embarrassment. Directors of The Onassis Foundation need to take a stroll down to the western end of Evripidou Street and turn right up Menandrou Street, as well as sit for a while in Koumoundourou Square, particularly at night.

David Cade

South Shropshire, England

You hit the nail in the head

I took all my money from the Greek banks and would only invest again if you make a serious effort to make a modern country out of it. They took on those loans to live well but did nothing for the country. If they at least would have invested all these loans in infrastructure, we would be in a much better position.

Greece today is not only monetarily broke, but also mentally.

George Corkis

Rundown Athens

Instead of rounding up the migrants why don't you round up the Greeks who destroy downtown Athens every time there is a demonstration and send them to Kozani. When was the last time someone was arrested for vandalizing a building in the historic center?

Peter Poulos