Who's afraid of the big bad Greek driver?

Trip Start Jun 14, 2008
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Trip End Jul 01, 2008


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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Friday, June 6, 2008

One decision Melissa and I made early on was to rent a car rather than take a tour.  That way we'd be free to make our own schedule and follow our own whims.  She was hesitant, however, due to the solid reputation that Greece has for chaos and carnage on its roads.  "No problem!" I chirped.  "I'll do all the driving!"
 
After starting later in life than most people (in my 30s) I've come to love driving.  A speedy joyride along a forested back road can do more for a downer mood than a therapy session (though at $1.30 a litre, the therapist would be starting to look like a better value, if I didn't have to drive to her office).
 
And how much worse, I reasoned, could the drivers be than in other places I've visited?  Such as Montreal ("where streetlights are merely a suggestion"), New York ("I really see why all the cabs have painted-over dents"), Washington D.C. ("WHY are these drivers not just crazy but EVIL?  Ohhh yeah... it's Washington D.C.") or Quebec, where the end of a construction zone is generally marked by a sign that reads RESUME LEGAL SPEED ("In Quebec?  You gotta be kidding.")
 
I decided to study this matter, however, and was encouraged by such offerings as Matt Barrett's "26 Simple Rules of Survival on the Greek Roads":
 
"Rule #1: You must always keep in mind that you may be the only person on the road who actually took and passed a road test. Many of your fellow drivers, rather than go through the inconvenience of taking the test or risk failing it, simply bribed the people administering it. Just assume that nobody but you knows how to drive and you have to make up for their lack of ability by driving more defensively."
 
This reassuring state of affairs is only on the serene rural roads, however.  In Athens, he writes, "following the rules is seen as a weakness of character by many Greek men who drive with the patience and consideration of a 13-year-old drug addict in need of a fix."
 
Accordingly we chose Swift Rent-a-Car, which provides the merciful service of delivering your rental car anywhere in Athens, but then driving it and you to salvation, i.e. the city limits.
 
All-in-all, I'm looking forward to driving in Greece, and it's a great comfort to know that my travel insurance covers "loss of life, dismemberment of two limbs or loss of sight in both eyes," so long as these things happen only in a single accident.

I'll let you know what it's really like, if I live.
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Comments

martyavery
martyavery on

Driving Alexander
I have this image of you driving around Greece with Alexander the Great .... and saying things like, If you're so great, why don't you do some of the driving, or at least fill up the tank with gas ....

pattiv
pattiv on

Ohmigosh - you're in Greece!
Hi Karen!

I was so thrilled to hear you were on your way to Greece, but I'm even more impressed that you are there to do research for your book.
I was in Athens and on various islands in 1992 and loved being there, despite a friend who is a born Athenian who advised me not to bother going to Athens. The traffic was.....interesting? Challenging? Totally sketchy and absolutely random as far as rules and regulations go, and it likely hasn't improved over time. Glad to hear you and Melissa are being driven to the outskirts of town before you take the wheel.
Happy motoring! Looking forward to reading your about your adventures.
Cheers,
Patti

karenmw
karenmw on

Re: Driving Alexander
> I have this image of you driving around Greece with Alexander the Great .... and saying things like, If you're so great, why don't you do some of the driving, or at least fill up the tank with gas ....

Yeah, the problem with that is he's a king. So he figures, nothing he does is illegal, right? Speed traps? What speed traps?

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