4 June 2010

Driving in Greece

While we were in Greece we spent a few days driving around the Northern part of Greece, the area known as Makedonia. As mentioned previously, the Greeks consider Makedonia (yes, they spell and pronounce it like that) as being Greek, so don't look kindly on references to the country just to the north as Macedonia.

It must be said that during the whole of our trip through 10 different countries, we encountered the worst driving, and in some respects, the worst driving conditions, in Greece. It's pretty much every man/woman for him/herself, with not much regard for traffic laws and especially not for lane discipline in cities.

To quote an extract from a tourist brochure produced in Greece: "Unfortunately, many drivers are not aware of the position of their indicators, therefore they are not usually used." And again: "Take heed of any speed limits as it is still an offence to exceed the stated limit". So are they about to abolish speed limits?

It's best not to drive in the rain! On the one day we had to do this we coluldn't believe how slippery the roads are. The surfaces are very shiny and it was almost impossible to start from rest without the traction control kicking in, and coming to a standstill required the same skills you'd exercise when driving on icy surfaces.

We spent a couple of nights in Greece's second city, Thessaloniki (or Thessalonika as we call it for some reason), and it was chaotic. And not just the driving. Lots of stuff was broken, there were unfinished building sites here and there, and, with a complete disregard for health and safety, bits of scaffolding sticking out, broken pavements and the occasional hole. Nothing ever seemed to get fixed. And finding any of the tourist sights was more a matter of luck and map reading, as signposting was minimal at best.

But having said this, the people were great, really friendly and relaxed, and the city had a real buzz about it with bars all along the seafront and plenty of restaurants offering every style of cuisine. We were there at the height of the rioting in Athens, about 500 km to the south, but you wouldn't have known anything was amiss, with no sign of any trouble in Thessaloniki.

So we had reached our destination safely and on schedule, and next we head for home!

Visit the Drive-Alive website for information on driving in Europe.

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