Monday, August 12, 2013

Greek Vacation Adventures: Driving Edition

So last month, my family and I went on a two-week vacation to Greece.  It was amazing, and now that I’ve had some time to get my house back in order, I figured I’d share some details about our trip.   BTW, if you want to skip out on this, I totally understand.  Come back later this week for house-related project stuff :)

We started out in Athens (2 nights), made our way to the nearby island of Hydra (3 nights), spent 6 nights in Nafplio (central polyponese) and then rounded things off by traveling north to Mount Olympus.   In between those places, we rented a car and drove around.  We traveled with my parents and younger sister, so we opted for a roomier sedan rental car (VW Passat), which was kind of like home away from home for me since I drive a station wagon version of the car here at home!  

Driving in Greece can be summed up with the following:

#1 - Every road you come across is pretty much a 4-lane highway, even if there are “technically” only two lanes.  Wanna know why?  Because everyone and his brother drives on the shoulder of the road.  

They pass on the right, they pass on the left, they pass on dotted lines, they pass on solid get the point!  It was craziness...

#2 - Nearly everyone drives a compact hatchback car…and said cars are always stick-shift (manual transmission) because “automatic cars are for lazy people” ;)  And those are the words of the locals.  Even our rental car was a stick-shift, but that wasn't a problem because all of us can drive stick (it's soooo much fun!).  

There were also so many awesome cars over there that we don't have in the US!  My favorite was the VW Scirocco, which I didn't get any good pictures of, so here's one from Eurotuner's website.  It's a hatchback car (smaller than a station wagon), but it's got a fairly low and wide stance that makes it look like it's a rebel without a cause.  I'm sure that it would cost us an arm and a leg to import c'mon VW...give us some Sciroccos!  

#3 - If you are lucky enough to own a truck, you aren’t using it to its full potential unless you have the bed loaded down with stuff that it is twice as high as your vehicle. These pictures explain it all:

We also saw the "watermelon"  and "tomato" edition of the truck transportation, but didn't get our cameras out in time ;)

#4 - The shortest distance between two points is NOT a straight line...I don't care what mathematics says.  This is what we were dealing with:

Switchbacks galore had us dying to get out of the car on more than one occasion and may have led to to conversations such as these: "Stop trying to be a race car driver!  I'm getting ready to toss my cookies and you're directly in my line of fire!"  That's right, I don't mess around ;) 

#5 - You can gauge how dangerous a road is by how many roadside memorials are erected along it.  The memorials are built at the site of accidents along the roadways to remember the people who have passed away.  And well, some of the roads had (lots) more than others.  Especially the ones with all of the curves and switchbacks. 

We started calling out "OK, this a 4 church turn coming up!" which really meant 'OK, you really need to slow down now, unless you want there to be 5 more churches on the corner!

It was definitely an adventure!  Have you ever driven around in a foreign country?  How was it?


  1. Oh, when we drove in England/Scotland, everything was on the opposite sides! Passing an 18 wheeler has never been so terrifying. Especially in a Fiat, with the Mister driving...!

    1. Oh goodness, those are such tiny cars! I always admire them for how cute they are, but I have to admit that I would probably be terrified to drive one lol

  2. LOL, I totally know what you are saying, and I have been eyeballing the VW Scirocco here in Germany myself.
    Growing up in Germany we actually never went to Greece. My family members, me included are huge animal lovers and we would spend every minute on vacation feeding and caring for stray animals. I probably would spend most of my time crying and trying to figure out how I can take them home.
    There are a lot of Germans that rescue animals from Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy.