Friday 23 April 2010

Part T: The Tantalizing Traffic in Athens

Today I'm going to tell you about the torturous traffic in Athens, Greece.

There is so much traffic in Athens that that there is a traffic law here that states who can and can't drive on certain days. On even-numbered dates, even-numbered registration plates are only allowed to drive. On odd-numbered dates, only odd-numbered registration plates are allowed to drive. But it's useless. Everybody just purchases two cars - one with odd- and one with even-numbered plates. On a side note, I have no idea how anybody can afford it - the average wage here is 600 euros per month. That's approx 800 USD. We are also the most expensive country in Europe - even more than Paris! Can you believe it? It can cost up to 7 euros for a coffee at a cafe!

Anyway, back to traffic. Cars double park on roads that can JUST squeeze in two car widths, so that any passing traffic has to drive over the footpath to get through - and the footpath is hardly wide enough for people to walk on anyway. Cars park on the corners of busy intersections, in towing zones (the point of having a towing zone is beyond me because I have never seen a tow truck here in my life, and I've been here for 8 years), on footpaths, in the MIDDLE of open squares, in lane ways, I'm sure there are plenty of other places I can't even think of right now.

There is no point in having lines to separate the lanes on the road either, because no one gives a shit about them. People drive in two lanes at once, people even drive in the emergency lane on the highway - and it's accepted, no one pays any attention to speed signs - AT ALL. No one gives way to ambulances. Buses can be seen driving even faster than the cars. There are signs on the highway that say "Caution - high death rate for the next 3km". What are you trying to do? Give me a heart attack before I even have a car accident?

Dangerous city to drive in. That's why I just avoid it at all costs. I only ever drive if I have to go out of the city - and even then it's a nightmare - panic attack, tears, talking to myself, cursing, horn honking, negotiating smart maneuvers to escape bottle necks. Ugh ... OK. That's enough. Just writing about it makes me feel like I'm driving ...

Oh, and just for your information. This is what happens every couple of months when the garbage collectors go on strike:

And now for something to tickle your fancy - two turtles in our botanical gardens ... um ... what's it called that they're doing here? hehehehe ...


  1. I had no idea that you were living in Greece! How did I miss that? Totally cool! Except for the traffic! I would definitely become housebound since traffic here nearly drives me to it!

    Yikes on the turtle pic! He looks kinda out of breath, doesn't he!

  2. How cool that you're in Athens. Except for the traffic and garbage. :) It sounds a lot like when I lived in NYC.

  3. Excellent blog,my it do look busy in Greece. When I lived in Spain the roads were very quiet.
    I had to chuckle at that turtle I swear it hada smile on it's face.
    I wonder why.
    Have a lovely day.
    I posted mine early as I am visiting my daughter in the morning and am having an earlier night.

  4. I'm in France, and while it's nowhere NEAR as bad as it looks in Athens, I have learned that motorcycle is the best way to get around. :) Skipping all those traffic lines by driving through cars.
    Isn't it crazy? When I went back to visit the US, the first thing I noticed was that the roads were so big!

  5. That was way interesting. I had no idea! Traffic and garbage, I would have thought the pictures were from NYC if you hadn't told us.

  6. I totally need to visit. How beautiful with the trash and traffic...

  7. Makes me grateful to live where there are actually consequences for breaking the law! And the trash? Ewwww...yuck!

    Thanks for the view from your part of the world Jessica!

  8. Yikes! And I thought Calgary drivers during the first winter snowfall were bad enough.

  9. This is unbelievable!! Crazy!

  10. I would definitely not be driving in that either...scary! I can't believe they don't do more to regulate things, especially if there is such a high incidence of deaths in some areas, that is just crazy!

  11. Maybe Los Angeles is not so bad after all. Greece sounds worse than Tijuana (Mexico- right across the border from San Diego) and there's no I'd drive there.

    A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post

  12. Athens sounds (and looks) a lot like Indian cities. Some years back, they brought up a proposal to implement that even and odd rule - luckily it was shot down by people who said that the people who really crowd the streets would jsut purchase two cars.

    ~ Rayna

  13. Do they have a subway system in Athens? If not, how do you get around the city without driving?

    I think us Americans don't realize how well our traffic situations are controlled over here. When I went to London a few years ago, it was the first time I'd ever been to Europe. I was amazed by how narrow the lanes on their roadways were and how close they ride to one another at such high speeds. My best friend and I were only in the cab for about 15 minutes, but after that I swore I wasn't going anywhere we couldn't WALK to, lol

  14. yep, we have the metro, trams, and plenty of buses and trolleys :)

  15. OHMYGAWD--that traffic thing is NUTS! No wonder so many people opt for motorcycles and mopeds! We do the odd and even days for parking after a snow storm, but DRIVING? Eeek gads!

    *snicker* turtlesex *snort* Even his expression is perfect!

  16. Athens traffic sounds worse than French traffic...but I can definitely relate. I could only drive in France with an international drivers license for one year, and since I was a resident for close to five, I had to get a French drivers license. I was terrified! The main problem for me wasn't the congestion and the speed. It was that everyone drives right on your bumper in France. You know how everyone has a personal space bubble, and when that space is invaded by someone standing too close to you, you feel uncomfortable? Well, I think we have car bubbles, too. In France, my personal car space was always infringed upon, making me nervous as hell.

    Great post, Jessica! Have a great weekend :)

  17. So I was going to say, Wow I'm so jealous you live in Greece, how amazing, until I read the words TRAFFIC... I can't believe that! Holy cow, buying two cars just so you can go to work everyday! Because you know your company doesn't allow you to work on even and odd days, lol have every other day off (wouldn't that be nice!)

    I like you would panic and avoid driving all costs... and here I thought Houston was bad!

    Thanks for insight! Drive Safe! LOL

  18. AlliAllo ~
    >>On even-numbered dates, even-numbered registration plates are only allowed to drive. On odd-numbered dates, only odd-numbered registration plates are allowed to drive.

    That reminds me of how they “supposedly” handled the gasoline crunch here in the U.S. in the mid-1970s. You could only purchase gas every other day, depending upon whether or not your car’s license plate ended with an odd or even number. Naturally, it led to the stealing of license plates.

    One of the primary reasons I moved away from my hometown, Los Angeles, was because of the traffic. But yours is even worse.

    Wildest experience I ever had in traffic? A taxi cab ride in Mexico. Allah’s Unholy Trousers! I was just a passenger and I still thought a heart attack was imminent! It was the dead of night and pedestrians were diving for their lives this way and that! If the cab driver had hit one of them, I know he would have just turned on his windshield wipers and shifted into a higher gear (if there was one).

    It took 6 margaritas to settle me down!

    >>um ... what's it called that they're doing here?

    It’s called “The Birds And The Bees.”
    But not sure why, since these are turtles.

    ~ “Lonesome Dogg” McMe

  19. I often forget that people I talk to on the blogs are all over the world! Here in southern california I thought traffic was bad but sheesh! You win. And as an avid coffee drinker, 7 Euros for a cup is just wrong...hope its good!

  20. Sweet Girl!

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and thought provoking (good) comment on my blog! I hope you didn't feel nagged to comment. I just missed you! Busy is very understandable! I was already planning to ask my pain doctor about cutting back on some of the meds that I currently take. Actually I have cut way back on pain meds and muscle relaxants on my own. Some of the others I need to be on right now but can hopefully ditch by getting my body healthier and losing weight! I'm working on it! Thanks for the encouragement!

  21. Wow, that's a lot of traffic! I am quite grateful for not having tons of traffic here... or at least people who (mostly) follow traffic rules.

  22. Kinda make MY fear of driving look like small change. Too bad it's so hard to get anywhere here without being able to drive.

  23. Wow, there's a lot of craziness over there in Greece. Traffic, garbage, turtle nookie. I had no idea Athens was such a nutty place. Still I'm a bit jealous that you live there. I have an award for you on my blog.

  24. Beth: no I didn't feel nagged. Don't worry! :)

    Angie: Thanks, I'll be over soon to grab it! :)

  25. Lol, the Cypriot Greeks are maniac drivers too. We don't have the traffic issues like Athens here. In fact we say if the motorway has more than 4 cars on it, it is a convoy!

    Greece is in a lot of financial difficulty and it is a shame. The Euro put our prices up overnight. Our sterling vs Euro is a nightmare as well.

    We don't have the rubbish collection problem. They collect x2 weekly, even Bank holidays.

    Great post.

  26. I have to admit this comment made me laugh, "Everybody just purchases two cars - one with odd- and one with even-numbered plates."

    When I first read about the odd and even number system I thought that it sounded like a great solution...until I read that, heh.

    Insanity. It reminds me of the traffic in Rome. I had to close my eyes in the cab most of the time. I can't believe you actually drive in that.

    Thanks for sharing a piece of your world.


  27. Hey, there,
    I don't know how i lost my contact with you, but here I am again. I have a lot of catching up to do on your blogsite!
    I was in Greece about 35 years ago on a tour of the Holy Lands. I was impressed by the huge flow of traffic in Athens at that time as well. It was humongous even then. Greece is a beautiful country. I would so love to visit it again, but I know that will never happen.
    Best regards to you.

  28. No problem, Grammy! I can't keep up with everyone either! ;)


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