Sep 27 2007
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.