What is Greece like?
So Ive posted before about Greece and if they speak English there, so you might remember me.
I live in a flat swamp in south Louisiana, and I was wondering if Greece is as mountainous as they say it is. Also, what is driving like there? Is it like other European countries that have smaller cars (when compared to American SUVs) and smaller streets. Im genuinely interested about it. Any fun info you can give is gladly welcomed.
It's extremely mountainous, yes - something like 80% of Greece is made up of mountains. There's mountains, and coast, and not too much of anything else. Plenty of mountains with heights of around 2,000-3,000m. I live at around 450m with a range of 950m directly behind me, 1,800m behind that, and then finally a peak of around 2,500m to top it off. Mountains really change your perception of distance; I grew up in Australia, which is mostly flat, and there, well, 15km is a short distance which will take you 10 or 15 minutes to drive. In my part of Greece, 15km as the crow flies can take you 90 minutes or more to drive, even on a paved road.
Car sizes do tend to be smaller, especially in the cities. In the mountains, most people still work in agriculture, so there are plenty of four wheel drives and utes and farm trucks etc. Driving is... not the worst I've seen in the world (hello, Lebanon), but it's not for the faint-hearted, either.
Well if you consider driving not to be the worst and you make that assumption based on how Cretans drive, we must be the best drivers here in Athens :P
Yep, the driving in Athens is pretty sedate compared to Crete. Last time I was there, I was chatting away in bad Greek to my taxi driver. He called me a χωριάτης because I didn't put my seatbelt on and then asked why we needed to make a big detour when we could have just gone 20m the wrong way down a one-way street instead. And then we somehow got to talking about weddings, and I said that I didn't find anything particularly unusual or frightening about celebratory gunfire :-)
As someone who lives in Greece and has experience in Athens, Crete, and the small city where I live now and who has lived in other countries...the US, Germany, Italy ... I'd still say driving in Greece is a challenge especially in big cities. (Yes, even harder than Italy, don't know about India.)
Technically, there are no mountains as high as 3000m. Mount Olympus is 2900+ meters tall.
Is it like other European countries that have smaller cars (when compared to American SUVs) and smaller streets.
Basically yes! Also, motorbikes and mopeds are very popular. The smaller mopeds are known in slang as παπάκια (ducklings) because the engine makes a sound a bit like a quack :)
I haven't been to Louisiana, but if it's anything like Texas, where drivers seem pretty laid-back to me, you will find the driving style in Athens quite aggressive. Not as much so in more rural areas.
As a Greek having travelled around Greece, I can say the opposite. Driving in Athens and other big cities is much more civilised than the driving in rural areas. I don't drive but in some rural areas you have the feeling that you will be hit by a car if you don't watch out, and you will be blamed for it by the driver, too. Also in rural areas some people drive without having gotten any proper training.
As someone who now lives in a rural area...having experienced life in big cities in Greece and abroad as I've said and have experince driving in all those places...give me my little town any day. The folks here are kind and neighborly...and really do know how to drive.
Those round stickers on licence plates? I thought they were something to do with having paid your κυκλοφορία. I took my car to the mechanic recently, and he was like, "You do realise your car is two years overdue for its roadworthy?" :-) Yep, I am a χωριάτης. And yes, it's less common than it used to be, but there are quite a few people who drive without licences, roadworthy certificates (guilty...) or insurance.
My aunt, who has immigrated to the U.S. since her youth, refuses to drive while on vacation here, she says people drive like crazy...
Your aunt is very wise. I live in a small city and have gotten used to it (after many years) but still avoid driving in big cities. And anyway where would we park? :-)
My grandad is part Greek and he sometimes drives like crazy and drifts sometimes but jesus if you've ever been to a gulf Arab country they drive like lunatics which explains why Oman is among the highest car crash rate in the world and probably even more than Poland who god knows how many car crashes they suffer a day
I've just come back from Athens which is very hilly. I wouldn't drive there and was amazed not to have seen an accident, it just looked totally mental to me with cars double-parked, turning where they liked, motorbikes and mopeds weaving in and out of traffic and everyone beeping at each other... I know it's what you get used to, but still! However, English did seem to be very commonly spoken as I guess a lot of other Europeans don't speak Greek but may speak English as a second or third language. Oh, and it was hot, but that's by UK standards; mid to high 20s (Celsius) in late September. Very nice.