We got a crash course on driving in Greece today—not literally—as we hit the highway to Kissamos on the west side of Crete.
10 Things About Driving in Greece
1. Lanes are not rules; they are merely suggestions.
See that car on the right? It’s driving on the shoulder as though it’s a lane. If you’re driving slowly, you can and maybe should (or not—more on this momentarily) just stick to the edge of the road.
That oncoming car? Yep, driving half on the shoulder, half on the road.
It’s all good. To the Greeks, anyway. I’m not sure I’m a fan.
The problem with driving on the shoulder is that sometimes there are parked cars or rocks in the way, like, around corners where you can’t see them in advance.
2. Surprising number of slow drivers.
A good many people drive on the shoulder. Although faster drivers will pass slow drivers anytime, regardless of solid lines and blind curves, no one seems to get angry with the slow pokes.
3. Twisting, turning, winding, narrow roads.
Turns can be extremely tight, and are usually narrow, too.
4. Roads in poor condition.
Did you see that photo with the rocks in the road? There are also potholes, crumbling edges, and very rough gravel roads.
5. “Antlion” roads in towns. Roads get narrower and narrower, and you wonder if you’re driving into a trap. Maybe there’s a car-eating insect at the end.
6. Lack of speed-limit signs, and when there are signs, senseless, frequent changes of speed.
7. Gas stations on curbs in towns. Houses and businesses open onto the road—and sometimes spill out onto the road.
8. Willy-nilly-ness. Pedestrians stepping out, willy-nilly; cars pulling out, willy-nilly; cars parked willy-nilly; goats and cats wandering out, willy-nilly.
Look at this. We’ve got cars parked in both directions on both sides of the road, with several cars seemingly allergic to the curb. That black car on the right is pulling out in front of us, and the whole road is just a tight squeeze. Pedestrians are wandering all around, too.
In their defense, or something, I did see a sign that said “Welcome to Crete. Park everywhere.” Seriously. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of it.
9. Our gutless car (a Suzuki “Swift”) on an island with some very steep roads. We actually failed to get up one and had to back down and find a new way to our destination!
10. Crazy-packed, narrow town roads.
So far, so good, though!