DRIVING IN GREECE
The roads in Greece vary in their quality and state of repair, with all major cities being connected by nice wide, multi-lane highways, and smaller cities being served by the narrow variety. To navigate to the most spectacular and remote locations you might have to negotiate through very narrow roads that might turn into gravel for large stretches of the trip often doubling the estimated time of arrival you calculated looking at the little red line on a map. Greece is a mountainous country and driving can yield spectacular views, but also it can be a cause for motion sickness. If you are traveling with small children make frequent stops and allow extra time to get to your destination.
Driving in Greece is not to be taken lightly. Greece has a very high accident rate compared to other European countries and much caution is advised. The most dangerous roads are the one lane roads which connect large cities and host large tractor trailers, small cars, older cars, and even smaller motorcycles, all driving at wide ranges of speed. Be extra careful when you pass slower vehicles and have to cross over to the opposite direction lane. There is no avoiding this maneuver on Greek roads especially if you are stuck behind a slow moving tractor trailer on a long uphill for the last 24 minutes.
Another dangerous maneuver in Greece is the dreaded left turn on any road. Chances are good that whoever follows behind you at double your speed is busy lighting a cigarette or fiddling with his stereo all while he is calculating the physics of passing you on the left without hitting the oncoming traffic and analyzing his trajectory to allow his wheels to avoid the two pot holes on the street. A good practice is to turn the blinker on early, then extend your arm out of the window pointing to the left for at least 600 feet.
A European Union drivers license, or a USA drivers license is valid in Greece, and it should be accompanied by an International Drivers Permit.
The International Driving Permit is an official translation of your valid driver's license into 10 different languages, and they are valid for one year from the date issued. You can obtain an International Driving Permit from your local AAA for $10, or from ATAA. All you need is your valid US Drivers License, the completed application, two passport size photos (often taken on the spot at the AAA office), and you must be over 18 years old. You can go to your local AAA office, and the whole process takes about 10-15 minutes, or you can obtain your permit by mail.
Road signs are easy to understand since they contain no text and most resemble European signs.Seat Belts
Wearing seat belts is mandatory and at times police 'blocks' are set-up to enforce the rule.The Cars
The majority of the cars in Greece are new and well maintained thanks to a series of laws that gave people incentives to replace their old vehicles with new, more energy efficient ones. All cars are of the manual transmission variety, and if you are used to automatic transmissions, Greece might not be the place to begin fiddling with the stick.Gas Stations
Gas stations in Greece are efficient and plentiful save for the most remote areas of Greece and offer a variety of services to the travelers, albeit, clean bathrooms is not often on the list of offerings. All gas stations offer unleaded fuel and close around 7:00pm on weekdays, and for the whole day on Sundays.
By law, at least one gas station must remain open in each area at night and on Sundays. If you are driving in a town desperate for gas during a night or in the weekend, ask the locals to point you towards the one gas station that is open in the town. The gas in Greece is expensive and you should factor it into your budget because even with moderate driving it can be a major part of it.
The majority of gas stations in Greece are 'full service'. Pull up to the pump, and within a few minutes someone will come to fill your tank with gas. Hand them the keys if the gas tank is locked, and tell them how much gas you wish to purchase. Very rarely the gas station attendant will provide more service than filling your tank, and you are not expected to leave a tip. In large urban centers it is possible to find some self-service gas stations, but they are far and few in between.
Every gas station offers a free air pump, water, and a squeegee for washing your windshield. The great majority of gas stations is attached to a mini market where you can buy auto accessories, food, drinks, or ice cream.
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