Sep 27 2007

The 5 Immutable Laws of Greek City Driving

Published by at 6:24 am under Crete,Greece

Now that I have sufficiently recovered from the experience of driving in Hania, I can attempt to aid any other travelers who may attempt the harrowing feat of renting a car and driving in Greece. Since officers of the law seem to be ignored and/or nonexistent in these parts, consider these “the law of the land.”

1. There are no lanes whatsoever
If a road seems like it should accommodate a maximum of 2 cars, then it’s at least 5. (Not including the 2 outside lanes, sometimes called sidewalks.)

2. Traffic lights are disregarded
Pedestrians be alert: this also means that your crossing signals are meaningless. We came within inches of being run over by a man on a motorcycle while crossing a crosswalk. We had a green signal, he was turning left on a red light, and as he passed us he still saw fit to chastise us with a wagging finger and an “ah, ah, ahhh.”

3. Everything = road
This means you will find cars parked inside shops, on docked boats, and next to your bed when you get home at night. This rule holds especially true for motorcycles, whose riders believe that they have immunity to all laws. One evening last week, I saw two drunk men on a motorcycle crash into a dining table at a restaurant. While diners were seated there. The man on the back of the motorcycle managed to keep his ice cream cone perfectly balanced.

4. Motorists will politely let you out from a side street into the stream of traffic.
Haha! They would never do this. And there is never a natural break in traffic, so the only question is: how long are you willing to wait before taking the leap of faith and driving directly into oncoming traffic? You will be enraged at the other drivers who do this to you, up until the inevitable moment you find yourself forced into the same religious dilemma. It’s time to ask yourself what you believe.*

5. You are always wrong.
This holds especially true if you are legally right. The locals can see the rental sticker on your windshield, and the luggage in the back seat. This gives them the unchecked authority to honk at, and otherwise belittle, you and your passengers. The redeeming factor is that all the car horns sound like they came off of tiny clown cars, so each brush with death is brightened by the nostalgic sounds of the big top. Double bonus: If you happen to be driving near the harbor, roll down your window: now it smells like the big top too!

*The first of many Indiana Jones references. Sorry Brittany.

NEXT: Faux-hawks and Dreadlocks »



7 responses so far

7 Responses to “The 5 Immutable Laws of Greek City Driving”

  1. Jodieon 27 Sep 2007 at 8:15 am

    How long does it take you to come up with this stuff? You have me laughing out loud! I’ve been keeping up with your blog on a regular basis, and I feel as if I know both of you. I think you should write a book about your adventures – something similar to Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods.” It sounds like you guys are having a wonderful time. Will e-mail more Italy pictures to Brittany later.


  2. Danoon 27 Sep 2007 at 9:50 am

    Hey, I finally checked out your site after Kerry told me about the “How not to be an American abroad” post and I can now say you’re added to my google reader page. Keep up the good work, I need more sites to check out during work (the rss reader has made me way too efficient).

    Hilarious side-note. Ben Bradshaw spent his summer working in Alexandreta. By the canyon of the crescent moon!

  3. Hollyon 27 Sep 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Maybe if you had on a speedo they wouldn’t consider you such a touristy nuisance.

  4. Alexon 27 Sep 2007 at 6:16 pm

    I liked the video you all made of Hania. Neat place — outdoor cafes, market kiosks, iron balconies — really nice. But I have to admit… As much as I like the videos, Ben’s Top 5 lists are becoming my favorite part of this site! Looking forward to seeing more of ‘em! Saludos desde Charlottesville!

  5. John Matthewon 28 Sep 2007 at 4:25 pm

    I get more jealous every time I read an entry.

    Can’t wait to hear what Asia is like…

    Got any tips on convincing your gf to go around the world for 8 months?

  6. Benon 29 Sep 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Yo JMU,

    Seeing as Brittany actually did the convincing in our case, I may not be the best resource. But I am convinced that the answer is the same as the answer to all of life’s major problems: blogs (of course).

    Brittany was addicted to several travel blogs, and it was the stories and pictures she kept showing me that did me in. That and the nagging.

    Keep it DR3 real! I try to keep on eye on the business news, and hope things will start looking up back there again soon…

  7. rhinestone black apronon 15 Nov 2014 at 4:33 am

    Wonderful post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our
    website. Keep up the good writing.

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