The night before last myself, Elly and our friend from Brighton Rick (name changed as requested), decided to go to the Full Moon party at Bolivar Beach Bar. The night started out great, with us travelling first to Piraeus to pre-drink at Ricks flat to then getting a taxi to the night club around 12pm.
On arrival we got a free drink with the 10 euros entry, which frankly I knew I didn’t need, having finished off a litre of Vodka between myself and Elly I was suitably pissed by the time I arrived at the club. This had its benefits as I didn’t have to buy a single drink for the rest of the night. So, I am not able to tell you if the drinks were expensive or not. The club itself was amazing, as it states in the name it is on the beach which means there is plenty of room to relax but also areas to dance and get properly involved with the DJ. I had a great night until we left to leave the club.
Our friend Rick (the only person who knows how to speak Greek) had run into the sea and seemed perfectly fine, bar a little wet. As we went to meet our taxi, myself and Elly got up and helped Rick to his feet, who at this point fell facedown and was out like a switch. I sobered up instantly. Looking back, I am very glad that he had got dressed before passing out.
How the Greek staff and services dealt with this situation was incredible. They had clearly seen all this before and had done the procedure countless times. Pretty much straight away four of the staff grabbed a beach chair lifted Rick onto it and almost like a king being paraded through a crowd, he was carried through the party. Elly and I following behind like a royal procession. Once a bit further down the beach, by the exit to the bar the staff put him down and checked his pulse.
At this point, I thought the next step, as we would in England, would be chucking Rick in the back of a taxi and getting him back to our apartment to sleep the night off. However, when we asked the bar staff if we could take nick from there, they responded that the ambulance was on its way already and to wait for them to arrive. This was very surprising to us as he was just drunk, and as students we have been in this state ourselves or have seen many people in the state without getting the emergency services involved. In the back of my head I thought the ambulance would arrive, tell us off for wasting their time and send us packing. This, however, was not the case. The ambulance arrived and tried to ask us what happened, through gestures and the word “Drunk” being repeated. Then to our disbelief loaded the only Greek speaker in the group into the back of the ambulance. The very jolly, non-uniformed driver in his fifties with a greying moustache then laughed and said, “Jump in... to the after-party”. His colleague strapped us into the back, and we were off.
This after-party turned out to be the A&E and wasn’t a party I ever want to have the bad luck of returning to. The room was full of injured and ill citizens. Quite frankly to a recently sobered up Brit it was pretty horrendous. There was a man with his nose bandaged up, but with scarlet stains covering his black and white stripy T-shirt. There was screaming from a room, the door still slightly ajar but I remember wishing that it had been completely closed. And people in hospital beds filling the room completely apart from a small walkway through the centre. Luckily, we were put next to a bed with a teen who we later found out was also unconscious due to alcohol. Yes, we were in the intoxicated corner of the emergency services. We later learnt that the two women waiting with the seventeen-year-old was his mum and aunt, and it was the kids first time drinking.
The hospital staff proceeded to take blood from Rick and then to put him on the drip. At first, they asked me to hold his arm while they stuck a massive needle into him. As they started to withdraw the needle from the said arm, I began to feel sick and subsequently faint. Deciding that I didn’t want to add another patient to the already overcrowded hospital, Elly took over holding his arm while he underwent heart monitor tests and blood tests. I decided to take a seat (on a medical stall somewhere in the cramped room) and drifted to sleep. Waking up around thirty minutes after when Elly needed to leave for the toilet, I then took position of watching over Rick. Hours passed like minutes as our alcoholic dazes had long passed and we stood there worn out having been up for around 20 hours. It was now around 6:30am, and we had been there for a good few hours... and I began to hear the patient snore. I wasn’t having this, and got hold of the doctor, asking him if I was allowed to wake Rick and go home. He replied frankly “of course, of course”. So, starting off gently I began to shake my now sleeping friend, he stirred a little but not fully so I thought a few light slaps to his face while saying his name might work... until his eyes eventually opened, dazed and confused. I was so glad, not just to see him alive but of the prospect I would finally be able to go to sleep. As Elly kept him awake, I ran and got the doctor to take the drip from his arm. In a few minutes, after Rick had conversed with the doctor in Greek, he was out of bed hailing a taxi to take us home. As we left the emergency room, I saw the mother and auntie employing my rough but effective technique of raising the drunk, and I hope that it worked sooner than later, hospitals are never good venues to pass the time.
Looking back how the staff and the emergency services handled the situation was fantastic and professional, even though the hospital was daunting I never felt unsafe and it was the best place for our friend at that point in time. Even better, it was free, and no payment was asked for. I know now that I am in good hands in Athens.
By Alex Hood (@alexjohnhood)
Edited by Elly Babe (@elly_babexxx)
The flight from Rhodes to Athens was a quick but bumpy one. On landing in Athens I was thankful that the pilot had actually slowed down to stop and had not gone straight into the airport building, but I guess this was the Greek driving we were going to have to get used to.
From the airport our apartment was closest to the Acropolis tube station, which is central to the rest of the city. We took the blue line to Syntagma metro station and then switched to the red line and carried on for one stop to the Acropolis. This journey (for a 90 min ticket from the airport into Athens) cost 10 euros; however, a normal day to day (5 day) ticket costs 9 euros and around 5/6 euros for a student ticket of the same.
Food shopping proved to be difficult and expensive as the first shop we went to was a ‘My Market’ which was where we bought certain essentials for the house (bread, eggs etc), these small bits came to a large total of 26 euros. Although we soon found a Lidl by the stop on the train called ‘Kallithea’, prices were more reasonable here but still seemed to be more expensive than at home. With our hopes surrounding food shopping seeming to be cut short we found a bargain store in the shopping district (there are also others around in different parts of Athens) called ‘Bargain bazaar’ this seemed to offer more reasonable prices and there is an option here to buy pasta, rice etc. In bulk.
We also found a cheaper store for bits for the house to make it seem more homely such as rugs, bins, laundry baskets etc. This shop is situated in Piraeus down one of the streets close to the station. With this being a bit out the way we looked to find a closer shop offering the same accessories. So, it was just our luck when we came across a ‘Tiger’ in the shopping district where we were also able to get storing baskets and other little decorative bits.
The available attractions within the city are amazing and fairly priced for students as most places will have discounted tickets or will be free. The open-air theatre (said to be one of the best in the world) opposite the view of the acropolis promises to be an amazing and magical night as you watch a film while also looking at the lit-up Acropolis. This was 8 euros for us on a Friday evening; however, they have their student days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday where the tickets are only 6 euros.
Alongside this, you can get into most attractions for free with your student card, so it works in your favour to bring it along.
Another thing we found to do was sitting outside the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. This is an open-air music venue, and by sitting outside you can clearly hear the concert happening inside. Many people stand outside here dancing to the music with either their own beer from home or a drink from the bar outside that still served passers-by as the concert continued. It was only cost 5.60 euros for 2 beers.
Banking has caused us much grief in the first few days of living here. At an ATM that isn’t Attica bank (which offers free withdrawals), we learnt that it is better to reject the conversion rate as this provides you with a better rate when the money is withdrawn from your bank, meaning the 300 euros you get out may only come out of your bank as £270 (depending on the days exchange rate). Also, if you are planning on using your English bank card such as HSBC or Natwest remember to tell them you are going abroad and planning on using this card so that you have no moments of being unable to use your card when you need it the most. We have also signed up for an N26 card as this allows for bigger withdrawals from ATMs as well as allowing free withdrawals from a bank.
Finally, the vibe of this city is amazing and being able to chill and drink on the streets creates a warm atmosphere. However, there is still a need to be vigilant and remember that you aren’t in your own home town and things may be taken incorrectly and could cause you to be in trouble. There are threats of muggings and Knife crime within the city, however, as long as you stay out of the darker alleyways and try not to walk off anywhere alone where you are unsure of the neighbourhood then the city will stay amazing.
By Elly Babe (@elly_babexxx)
Edited and published by Alex Hood (@alexjohnhood)
We are three Brighton University students who have been given the opportunity to study at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. This blog will be our way of sharing our experiences of living and studying in Greece, plus will include tips and advice for those also looking to study abroad or even just visit Athens.
Who we are:
Where we went...