We have arrived in Athens to start our highly anticipated three month tour of Europe. Lots of people have said they were feeling jealous about our upcoming adventure, but after reading this they may feel differently.

The flight from Perth to Athens via Dubai was long, filled with movie watching and not enough sleep.

Airplane flight snap
Happier times: Emirates gave us our first souvenir of the trip

Arriving at Athens airport, it had been nearly 24 hours since we left home. We filled our wallet with euros and had just a train journey before we were at our booked Airbnb apartment.

When we arrived at the apartment, Rob discovered that his wallet was missing from his backpack, as was the hundreds of dollars, our two main bank cards and his driver’s licence it contained.

After a stressful evening with lots of searching (we found it hard to accept it was stolen and kept searching all our bags), we finally put all the pieces together and were able to recreate the crime scene.

We got on board the train at the airport, and sat near a young girl who was about 20. She spoke very good English, was very friendly and told us all about her life in Athens as a language student. She had lots of good advice for us. She had been to the airport to buy a plane ticket (who does that?) but was too late and would have to go again tomorrow. More likely she just rides the airport train all day preying on jet lagged tourists. The key moment was when a busker walked through the cabin playing a Greek tune on a piano accordion, which captivated all on board. While we were distracted, she had the perfect time to reach into the backpack for the wallet she would have noticed as we rummaged through earlier searching for some documents. Our pickpocketer was the only person to give the busker a tip, most likely his commission.

Sunset at the Acropolis in Greece
The view of the sunset over the Acropolis from our balcony cheered us up, marginally!

What we did wrong

  • We were tired from 24 hours of travelling, and let our guard down.
  • We were on the first day of our trip, and so excited that we had not yet got into our experienced traveller mode.
  • We did not remember the warnings we had read about pickpockets on Athens metro trains, so did not take enough extra precautions.
  • We did not trigger to the warning signs of the uninvited help of the friendly local with dubious backstory.
  • We were distracted by other things going on in the train and did not keep an eye on our bag at all times.
  • We were not into the travel routine of storing the wallet safely in the same known safe place in the backpack.
  • We had not yet distributed the wad of euros, that we just withdrew from the ATM, between us as we usually do.

What we did right

  • We had spare emergency cash stored elsewhere in our luggage.
  • We had brought along another bank’s credit and debit card as backup.
  • We had digital scans of the cards and licence and had recorded the bank’s phone numbers to call in such situations.

We did not let this minor setback ruin the start of our trip. It mostly has caused some inconvenience and a financial hit (which we just added to the already large travel costs!). Lesson learned. Now let the fun begin!

Join the Conversation


  1. I remember sitting on a bus in Italy watching young men standing between two girl backpackers with fanny packs – they easily opened the pack and took out the passport & cash. I couldn’t say anything because I was scared and I saw another friend watchmng me – all I could do was tell the girls when we got off the bus.
    Maybe should wear a money belt und your clothes.
    Sorry to hear you were violated. Unfortunate you can’t trust anyone!!

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about this criminal ruining the start of your adventure Clare. It seems that you guys have investigated the incident and solved the case. Well done. It’s also great that your experience in travelling has allowed you to be well prepared for such situations. You have offered sound advice to any of us travelling, together with your Do’s and Dont’s…so thanks heaps. Safe travels and enjoy Athens, it is really a beautiful place to visit.

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