After reading countless posts regarding pickpockets and being aware of your surroundings at all times, we were the targets of professionals this morning that showed us how easy it is to be a victim of this all too prevalent crime.
After a quick breakfast and easy checkout, we left the hotel around 6:30am to catch our ferry to Paros. Our cabdriver got us to Pireaus in about 15 minutes since the streets of Athens were pretty empty at that time of the morning. I noticed about halfway through our ride that he hadn't put the meter on. I knew that the average fare to the port from Athens should run about 15-20 euros, so I was prepared to make a fuss if he tried to charge us more than this, but when he asked for 18.50 euros, I just gave it to him. He dropped us off on the street directly across from our ferry and told us we had to use the escalators and overhead passage across the street. Ok, no problem, we lug our baggage to the escalator and start our ascent.
Suddenly the escalator stops in mid stream and 2 seconds later a man offers to help me with my suitcase. I tell him no but he grabs it anyways and carries it up the remaining stairs with me holding on to it. We get to the top, I thank him and he rushes to the downward escalator. This seems strange and Den and I realize we may have just been targeted by a thief. He asks me if I have his wallet and I tell him, no, you took it at the hotel. Before he even has a chance to look for it, a man appears and hands him the wallet, telling him he dropped it on the escalator. This man disappears as fast as the first one and we look at each other, stunned. We realize that the 2 men worked as a team and that they probably stopped the escalator themselves by hitting the emergency button. While Den and I were watching the one who helped me with my luggage to make sure he didn't try to take it, the other guy just reached into Den's shorts pocket and took his wallet! This happened so fast we didn't realize until it was all done, despite thinking we were very aware of this very possibility.
We didn't want to stop at the top of the walkway, so we kept going across and down and found our ferry. Only when we were safely on did Den check his wallet and to our relief, nothing was missing. We think that when the thief realized Den wasn't carrying any cash, he decided to give it back to us. Thank God Den lets me handle all the money when we travel. He realized that he shouldn't have had his wallet so easily accessible and we know that we got off very easily. This could have caused us a lot of trouble right at the start of our island holiday. Since losing my wallet in Vegas in May, I know it wouldn't have been the end of the world, but it would still have been a huge inconvenience if Den had lost all his ID (except his passport, which I always carry separately from everything else).
Well, live and learn. We will be even more aware going forward, although these people are professionals and it can happen in a blink of an eye. We won't let this ruin our vacation and we are really looking forward to a relaxing 11 days in the beautiful Cyclade islands. I'm blogging on the huge Blue Star Naxos ferry right now and Den is taking a little nap. Paros, here we come.........