Monday, November 24, 2008

Crazy Greek drivers

A few weeks ago, Chris decided to take a week's vacation to coincide with the girls' fall break. We thought it would be a good time to travel around the region, but unfortunately, Christopher still had to attend school. Instead of pulling him out of too many classes, we opted for a quick one-day trip to Thessaloniki, Greece. It was about a 3 and a half hour trip each way, with some interesting and very frustrating occurrences.

We started out very early in the morning and I was a bit apprehensive about the driving, but it actually was a very nice ride. The roads were fairly empty, and aside from a few precarious mountain passes, easy to navigate. There was a lot of bridgework going on, which caused some delays, but nothing to complain about. We were pleasantly surprised to find very little congestion at the border and after a short argument with some rude pedestrians, we were in Greece. That is where things got odd. Apparently, it is customary to drive on the shoulder on two lane roads in Greece, something which I was unaware of. After being berated by a Bulgarian with a lead foot for not driving onto the shoulder, I realized that all the cars were doing it. It was the strangest sight!! Everyone drove halfway off the pavement in order to let faster vehicles pass them--even when there weren't any other cars anywhere near them. It just looked very crazy to me. I decided to drive normally and cede to the shoulder only for passers.

We arrived in Thess safely and found the Cosmos shopping mall with no problem. We wandered around a bit until TGI Fridays opened, then we enjoyed a great American meal!! I love that they had Jack Daniels Bourbon Salmon, which you cannot even get in the US anymore. The kids were happy. Then we went upstairs to the German grocery store, bought about 20 pounds of cheddar cheese, and headed home again!

On the way back, we were followed closely by another Embassy family who was also shopping a bit in Thess. The kids had fun waving to each other as we sped along. We arrived home just after dark and settled in for the night. It was an unexciting, yet productive and memorable trip. I hope that next time the weather is a little clearer so we can get a better view of the Mediterranean Sea. At least I'll be better prepared to deal with those crazy shoulder-driving Greeks next time!

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