|Riot police lining the streets in central Athens during the May 18 2011 transit worker strike.|
In Athens, the occurrence of riots, demonstrations, strikes, sit-down protests, Green Peace assemblies etc do not come as a shock to the locals. It's so common it's routine. Now as a tourist trying to shop in Athens during one of these gatherings.. it's pretty interesting. Not only does it take forever to cross the street with the parade of protesters going by, the lovely shops in the Kolonaki neighborhood in central Athens pull down their steel grated doors in case things get rowdy.
So at mid afternoon, stores like Hermes, Van Cleefs & Apels, Louis Vuitton, Tod's, and Mulberry enclose themselves like little protective clamshells. Then they reopen when the protesting crowd recedes a few minutes afterwards. And if the crowd comes back, they close up again! Getting in is a matter of timing.
I managed to hide out inside a couple boutiques as this went on and when I was in the department store Attica (Athens answer to Sak's Fifth Ave), there are guards directing you to alternate exits on the other side of the store. But if you are patient and browse some more.. your preferred exit will reopen and you need not detour. It's called adapting.