Our man [formally] of Amsterdam

My big fat Greek speeding
January 9, 2010, 20:28
Filed under: Greece

The taxi driver was in his early twenties, large of build, clean cut, and a smoker. He seemed to know the hotel when I mentioned my destination in Thessaloniki, which is always a relief when arriving via the international airport in a new country or city. I pulled out the hotel booking confirmation as we sped out the exit, uttered the street name (just to be sure), and he nodded with a comforting, “Yes, it I know. Very nice. Full of lesbos.” Did he mean Lebanese or lesbians or some other semantic concoction lost in translation? All attempts at working out what he meant failed, so I leaned back and enjoyed the decrepit, dusty countryside as dusk set on the Thermaikos Gulf.

But this relaxed nature was very short lived because the road from the airport to the city is marked with 3 lanes, but we were in a ‘4th’, anywhere between the generous ‘shoulder’ alongside the guardrail and the median strip, as he weaved between cars, braking and accelerating in turn, and the whole time ensuring the speedometer never dipped below 100km/h.

“I’m in no hurry,” I said on several occasions. He spoke very loudly (so as to be heard over the blaring radio) and very quickly in response, but it was all Greek to me. Of greater concern was that he insisted on looking at me when he spoke, and without taking his foot off the accelerator. After that I didn’t say a single word. But he did; on his mobile in response to The Godfather ring tone. And he wasn’t in hands-free mode.

Both my feet were pressed hard to the floor and my knuckles were white against the peeling padded door handle. In the fading daylight I could see the red blur of banked-up brake lights way ahead, and was never so glad to see a peak hour gridlock in my life. The blood soon returned to my hands as I let go of the door handle and I took both feet off the ‘brake’. It was a peak hour crawl for the second half of the 30-minute journey, and I smiled inside, silently. Welcome to Greece; where speed seems to come easy.

See the Thessaloniki Flickr set here.


1 Comment so far
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this post reflects very well greek drivers and their often dangerous driving attitude. But what joy do you feel when driving slowly? Speed is mindblowing, and this is what we need to get our minds a little (metaphoric) brake 🙂
i hope you enjoyed your stay!
greetings from greece!

Comment by alienlover

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