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Driving in Crete

One would be tempted to say “don’t” but that would not be very helpful.  In fact you really should drive in Crete as not to do so bars you from all sorts of treasures.  But forewarned is forearmed so you should be aware of a few Cretan idiosyncrasies that make driving here challenging.

The Cretans are both macho and rebellious by nature.   They are fond of guns and pick-up trucks and fast bikes and raki and do not appreciate being told how to handle any of them.  Disrespect for any form of authority (except mother, perhaps), runs to traffic lights, stop signs,  one way streets, speed limits, alcohol limits, etc.
That particularly holds true for anyone on two wheels, motorised or otherwise.  Cyclists will quite happily cycle towards you on a one way street expecting you to give way and motorcyclists will as a rule pull out onto the wrong side of the road to overtake, again expecting oncoming traffic to make way for them.

Another favourite trick of drivers of all sorts is pulling out of side streets onto main ones at speed and only stopping to check for traffic once they are a metre or two past the “stop” sign.

And red is yellow and yellow is green (except for pedestrians for whom everything is green); and parking is easiest in the middle of the road;   no-one ever gives way;  everybody yacks on the phone while driving;  if you are in a car and you hit a biker you are always at fault unless you have an in-law in the police force or judiciary in which case roles are reversed…..  etc……
The only realistic advice is to give yourself space for the unexpected and try not to get too wound up.  That said, the writer is very aware that when behind the wheel in Crete he changes into a highly aggressive and unpleasant animal that he barely recognises, but then he is one quarter Cretan….

So sally forth from la Maison Ottomane’s serene atmosphere, put on your seat belt, let your hair down and enjoy….

Andreas Romanos
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