Greece is a magnificent country, filled with rich history, vibrant culture, and fun people. But today, I am going to tell you about the time I almost died in Greece.
“Mom, there has been gunfire outside our hotel room door. We are hiding in the closet. We are trapped in this room. If anything happens to me, know I love you.”
Although maintaining the status of being a top travel destination for backpackers and travellers alike, Greece is known to have a recently turned economy following the 2007/2008 Greek financial crisis.
If you are looking for more information on the Greek Financial Crisis, the CFA Institute wrote an amazing article covering exactly what this beautiful country has faced in recent years.
Now that the brief history lesson is out of the way, I am going to talk to you a little bit about visiting Greece for the first time, and how I almost died, along with my two best girlfriends Ashley and Gabriella (yes, they almost died too.)
Knowing the history of Greece in recent years, we understood we needed to be careful with our valuables. We made sure to have money belts with us whenever possible, had our travel insurance, made sure to remember our safety tips (my Greece Travel Guide covers even more safety tips while travelling Greece).
We had a couple weeks to spend relaxing and sightseeing on Mykonos, which was the perfect amount of time to see everything we wanted to see and make sure we got some R&R. There are a ton of things to do in Mykonos, so we knew we would be busy!
Ashley, Gabriella and I had spent most of our time on the beach, enjoying the beautiful clear water and views of the various Greek islands and beautiful people around us. The food in Greece was amazing too. I was eating 24/7.
Our hotel was right on the beach, so we didn’t have to worry about walking or renting an ATV to get to the ocean. It was a hop, skip and a jump through the courtyard to get to my favorite Mykonos beaches . Each morning, I would head over to the beach to enjoy some greek yogurt and espresso.
We originally met up in London, England after my long flight from Vancouver, and after the girls were finished touring a little more of Europe. We had 2 weeks in this beautiful country, and decided to go slightly off season. This helped us to avoid the busy Mykonos party season, while still enjoying the nice weather and beach time! Mykonos has been, and will continue to be one of my favorite destinations in the world.
We were all sharing one hotel room with 3 single beds in it, so quarters were cramped to say the least.
We were about 6 days into our trip, and 3AM had hit. I went to sleep around 10, hoping to get as much of the sunshine out of the next day on Elia Beach, Mykonos. The girls had planned to spend some time in little Venice, a beautiful little hub on the corner of the town of Mykonos close to the world famous windmills of Mykonos (Kato Milli).
I was shaken awake to the sound of gunfire. Gunfire that sounded like it was in the courtyard of our hotel, 10 feet away from us. We all shot up from our beds, jaws hitting the floor and unsure what to do. I have never heard gunfire like this before, it was deafeningly loud and went off like rockets.
Men started yelling and some more gunfire commenced, this time sounding about 30 feet away, closer to the front desk of our hotel.
We ran to double check the lock on our front door and shut the lights off. Our hotel room was ground level, but the hotel itself had 2 levels. We booked it into the bathroom, which was the only other lockable place or in our room.
We first checked the window, but it was a second story drop that we wouldn’t be able to make (we much appreciated the loading bay behind our window). We were trapped in this room, with something scary going on outside and nowhere to go.
What was going on? Was this gang violence? Were they breaking into hotels to rob tourists? How many people have they killed so far?
We all ran for the closet, which had several hiding places. The closet was open, but had cupboards that could fit us if we all crammed into them. We hide behind our clothes, hoping that would be enough to hide from these people. In hindsight, these closets were next to the hotel room safe. Probably not the smartest place to be hiding from alleged robbers or gunmen. In our defense, we weren’t exactly thinking clearly while everything was happening.
We began texting our family at home from the closets, holding our breath incase the people outside the room could hear us.
Ashley and Gabby had family and loved ones that were awake, that they were able to get into communication with right away. They gave the name of the hotel to their relatives, and had them call the front desk. No answer. The lines were dead… Did the front desk clerks get shot? Did these people get a hotel master key?
My text to my mother read: “Mom, there has been gunfire outside our hotel room door. We are hiding in the closet. We are trapped in this room. If anything happens to me, know I love you.”
Let me say, that is the one text you never want to have to send or receive from your family.
We heard more talking coming from outside, and then to our surprise heard the men jump in a car and drive away. We stayed still, not wanting to fall into some sort of trap. I have seen the movie Taken, that would not be fun.
Ashley’s phone lit up with a message from her husband (who was her boyfriend at the time). Jared had finally gotten through to the front desk attempting to send someone to our rescue, before he came himself. We heard footsteps outside, and held our breath once more. Did they hear her phone go off?
Our entire bodies were cramping up, from remaining so still in the closets for what seemed like eternity in the dark. We heard our door handle jiggle, and the door move back and forth. ‘This is it’, we thought, ‘we are going to die.’
Apparently, next door there was an Italian wedding happening. At an Italian wedding, it is tradition to light off fireworks, even if it is the middle of the night in a busy public hotel area, without any notice. Apparently, many people in the hotel had done exactly what we did.
The wind in the courtyard causes the doors to move back and forth, which is why we thought someone was trying to enter the hotel room.
There was no reason to panic.
We didn’t unlock the door that night.
And that’s the story of how I almost died in Greece.