I’ve been to Athens, Greece several times but my last visit disturbed me a lot. Although i am from the Netherlands where we tend to over organize a lot of the public services and public areas i’ve never been so shocked about the state the city of Athens is in right now.
First of all I was amazed by the amount of graffiti. Everywhere you see tagging, spraying, paintings etc. etc. It is really horrible. I also sends a signal that people don’t care any more about their cultural heritage. Maybe i don’t know enough about how to deal with these kind of situations, but it seems to me that immediate cleaning of the graffiti will prevent the next graffiti being placed at all.
In combination with regular and strict police surveillance you can overcome this problem and make it a place worth visiting again.
Secondly the amount of immigrants. My expectations toward visiting the small shopping streets of Athens is authentic greek boutiques and some tourist shops. What I did find was zillions of immigrants selling fake replicas of expensive bags, sunglasses and phones.
The funny thing is that it is illegal. A situation sketch:
I am walking on the street seeing all these immigrants trying to sell there properties. Suddenly they pack their stuff as they see a police officer closing in. They do this very quickly because their showroom is nothing more than a blanket which they can quickly pick up and walk away. The officer arrives and the immigrants stay not to far away (10 meters or so) more laughing at the officer for he cannot/will not do anything (they are not actually selling anything at that moment). Walking down the street a little more, where the officer must have passed, and the first immigrants start to unpack their properties again.
This way the presence of the policy is completely useless. Either do something about it or quit your jobs because you are spending public money.
Even worse so: if the immigrants would not sell anything they would not be there. So apparently people do buy their goods, thereby supporting their of downfall.
We could blame the economical crisis or put the blame on anything we can come up with, but I think that more strict policies toward small ‘crime’ could easily solve the problem and make Athens at least a bit more beautiful as it is supposed to be.