Dr. Michael Kaiser and Dr. Sean Lavine tell us they had quite an adventure in Athens, Greece this summer. Following the Society of University Neurosurgeons’ meeting, they both vacationed there with their families when riots broke out.
BBC news described, “masked protesters – armed with rocks and sticks – and riot police firing tear gas and stun grenades. Dozens of police and protesters were injured in the violence.”
The Greek government had just approved the tax raising measure of their Austerity Package,intended to help the country recover from it’s financial crisis. Public opposition to this legislation led to protests and rioting in Syntagma Square– just a few blocks from where the Kaisers and Lavines were staying.
“We could hear the tear gas bombs going off from our balcony,” stated Dr. Kaiser.”During our tour of Syntagma Square, we could see banners with the acronym PIGS, which stands for the European countries in financial distress–Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain.”
“At the Acropolis there were guys holding banners and chanting,” said Dr. Lavine. “Later, we actually turned a corner onto Syntagma Square and ran right into the riots. The cops were shooting tear gas right in our direction. All Of our kids were exposed. It makes your eyes water immediately. We were all crying. That evening, we saw a lot of small fires in the square. The smell was pretty foul from that.”
Dr. Kaiser commented, “Even from our balcony, which was well away from the actual riot, our eyes burned and teared up from tear gas carried on the wind. The next day, when walking through the square, the effects of the tear gas lingered. We could only watch the changing of the royal guard for about three minutes when we had to leave due to the tear gas.”
Though later reports indicated a number of injuries sustained during the riots, neither Dr. Kaiser nor Dr. Lavine witnessed any injuries. In fact, they both described the protesting as well organized and said the Greek people were conscientious about keeping tourists out of harms way.
In the end, the Kaisers and Lavines left Greece with many good memories, were not adversely affected by the riots, and returned home safe and sound.
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