Although driving in Albania was one of the more stressful travel experiences we have had on our trip this year, I think driving in Greece was actually where our lives were the most in danger.
The difficulties with traveling in Greece begin before you even start the car. I’m talking about double parking. Double parking is totally en vogue in Greece. Everyone does it, and no one feels ashamed. When we first rented our car, we had literally just started the engine when a lady double parked us in to go across to the local school and have a very long and drawn out chat with her kids teacher. We were stuck waiting for 15 – 20 minutes for her to return.
Not only that but we have seen not just double parking, but TRIPLE parking…. and on the side of a round a bout none the less….
But anyway… once you finally get out of your parking spot, that’s when the fun begins…
If you want to do as the Greeks do, then you have to speed. Now I certainly don’t advocate breaking the law, but it seems like in Greece that you are more of a hazard if you ARE going to speed limit. Absolutely every one speeds in Greece, and if we went the speed limit we would end up with angry Greeks tail gating us and trying to pass us at every moment.
Now on the highway that is one thing, but on the crazy narrow curvacious mountain roads it is totally another. We would usually pull over onto the shoulder to let them pass us, as we felt it was too hazardous to go any faster. And all the little churches and tombstones along the roads proved us right, in my opinion.
Move over, I’m passing!!
This seems to be an entirely Greek phenomenon. Before we realized just what was going on we would tend to panic and think we were all about to die in a head on collision. You see, when the Greeks want to overtake someone – they just go for it. It doesn’t matter if there is oncoming traffic. They just assume that the one coming car will move over onto the shoulder, and the person they are passing will also move onto the shoulder, creating a brand new middle lane just for them.
And you know…. the system works. When everyone knows what is expected of them it seems to work just fine. The problem is when you are not aware of this custom… like us. There were several occasions of my hyperventilating in the passenger seat going “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” until we finally worked out the system, after that we were fine.
Be aggressive, be assertive, and don’t park like a douche bag
That basically sums it up. Now we didn’t actually drive in Athens… it seems a lot more hectic there. But when it came to driving in the other cities and in the rural areas we were just fine once we figured out how to “drive Greek.”