May 10, 2010

A racist eatery on Samos Island, Greece

Location: Samos town on Samos Island, Greece (37° 44′ 0″ N, 26° 50′ 0″ E)
Date: 3 April 2010; 2.15pm
Camera: Canon IXUS iZoom

Samos is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, popular as a holiday destinations especially for day trippers from Turkey. I find Greeks to be generally friendly, though far from the friendliness of their neighbour, Turkey. However I had the worst racist experience there in all my travels and stay overseas, in a small restaurant/cafe named Restaurant Zen (picture). I was there with my travel companion, also Chinese, during the Easter weekend. We went there on the first evening around 7pm when the restaurant was quite busy but have a couple of empty tables still. We asked if there are any empty tables and we were told there were none. Well, we did not think too much about it as we thought the empty tables may have been reserved. We went back there the next afternoon for lunch, around 1.30pm. This time, the restaurant was not as busy with at least 3-4 empty tables. Again we were told by the same waitress that there are no tables available. She took a look at us and we were told in a manner and tone that was not really pleasant, something like “No, no, no table, go, go” (we also recalled the similar tone that she spoke to us the previous night). We were a little annoyed and puzzled as there were obviously empty tables about. Anyway we walked around the waterfront a bit to scout for other lunch places; the next thing we noticed 3 Greeks went to the restaurant and were shown to an empty table- the same empty ones when we went in earlier. Something about the way the guests went to the restaurant and the way they were shown the table indicated to us that they just walked in without reservation. Now we may be over-reacting but both of us had traveled and lived in different societies enough to recognize racial discrimination when it happens. The whole experience left a really bad taste in our mouth and marred our perceptions of Greeks.

1 comment:

Anastasia said...

It's unfortunate that you had to exerpience that and a lot of businesses felt like they could treat foreigners with such bad manners. If they treated foreigners with respect, they would have gotten more business from everyone.