Who's afraid of the big bad Greek driver?
Trip Start Jun 14, 2008
26Trip End Jul 01, 2008
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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.