What was supposed to be a laid-back day checking out ancient olive orchards and Greek ruins turned into one of the most stressful days of travel I have ever had. Although incredibly scenic, my Crete road trip has put me off from driving in Greece for a long time. Here’s why.
My Crete Road Trip – Shady from the get-go
It all started at the rental office. The sales lady gave me a “great deal” on an upgrade and was kind enough to include full insurance and a GPS from 1995. All for the bargain price of €42… for one day. When I asked about taking off the “mandatory” insurance I was told that they would have to charge €150 deposit to my card and keep it if something were to happen. This said to me pay €42 or give me €150.
Blarg. Next time I will rent from a reputable company instead of an unknown mom and pop shop.
After filling out the paperwork I asked for info on what the “full coverage” insurance includes. She tapped the piece of paper where “FC” was checked off. “Don’t worry, you have full coverage. See?” Right. The conversation continued until finding out that full coverage means full coverage as long as I am not at fault, which really means half coverage?
When our 1992 midsized hatchback rolled up I was less than enthusiastic. She gave me the damage slip which had nothing marked on it. “What about that?” I question while pointing at the spot where half the bumper used to be. “Oh, that happened last night. No worries.” The car was more dings and dents than anything else. I would later find out that it looks exactly like every other car in Greece. No wonder the saleslady was surprised as I started marking off all the damage. This Crete road trip was off to a good start.
What Road Rules?
Leaving the lot feeling less than confident I started to understand why there are so many damaged cars in Greece. Following the archaic GPS to the highway, it took us on what felt like a one-way street. Although it wasn’t, the large tour bus coming at me sure treated me like it was. The driver was in a fit of rage, flailing his arms in a way that could only say “F*ck you” in Greek.
I would experience this a few times throughout the day including a point where I was turning left and an incoming car was trying to pass another car but I was in the way. This while on a major road where he had solid double lines.
But I’m the idiot.
GPS + Humidity = Lost as F*ck
Navigating small towns with limited signage we turned to our phones. They weren’t much better than the GPS from 1995. “Turn right” where there is no place to do so is more than a little frustrating. Then there was getting back to our Aldemar Resort, which is not accurately labelled in Google. The GPS had us turn down a road that turned out to be an olive orchard. This resulted in getting stuck, denting the hell out of the bumpers, and a few dozen curse words. Not a high point as you can imagine.
The worst part is this detour was less than a kilometre from our hotel. It took us 30 minutes to navigate that 1 km. Erin later blamed the humidity, stating that it interferes with the GPS. It was that statement that made us laugh off the craziness we encountered. Prior to that, we were working on our 5th breakup of the day.
Better Than New
Once out of the small towns and away from the olive orchards our drive through the hills was pretty awesome. We took endless switchbacks while passing goats grazing on the hillsides. Then we drove along highways that suddenly turned into narrow town roads and lead to town squares where people were having coffee. We toured picturesque towns on the coast and tiny villages in the interior.
All of this was fantastic but not worth the stress. I backed into a scooter trying to park, leaving a nice black scuff and added some scratches to the grill while “touring the orchard” near our hotel. I felt like a jackass dropping it off after I marked every little ding and dent before we left.
“Any problems?” asked the agent.
“Nope. Just a day driving in Greece.”
What say you?
Thoughts on this Crete Road Trip?
Let’s hear it!
For more reviews from Europe and beyond see HERE.
Aw I had a brilliant experience road tripping around Crete although it wasn’t much different to yours lol. Guess they must have caught me in a good mood 😛
Ha! Glad to hear you handled it better than I.
Hilarious post Shaun – THANK YOU for your honesty. I’ve had mixed reviews from my clients driving in Greece. Definitely heard of issues at the rental agencies and colorful language on the road 🙂
Thanks! Was beginning to worry I was alone on this…
I’ve lived in Greece for 9 years and only drive on the islands (except maybe Crete). Greece definitely has its own ‘rule of the land’ and pretty much, if you stay here long enough like I have chosen to, you just have to shrug your shoulders and go with it.
I drive on the smaller islands. And actually, there are so many beautiful things about this country too – as you discovered – when you just go with it: the goats randomly on the side of the road munching the grass, the amazing views.
Glad you enjoyed your holiday at least.
Thanks and agreed. I am sure I would get used to it given the chance. As a tourist though, it is a challenge. The Greek islands are stunning and should be explored though!
Uh oh. Sorry you had a not so pleasant experience on the roads, all part of the travel experience. Seems like it finished out okay though 🙂 I moved to Italy a couple of months ago and there are times where I want to throw my hands up in the air and literally choke people but realize later that the country is too beautiful to get mad.
Ha! Stay safe and just remember you live in Italy. How great is that??
Sorry that you didn’t have a good experience driving in Greece. The pictures look amazing though! 🙂
Thanks! If only photos could capture rage…
That sounds terrible! Why did you decide to rent from that place instead of a more well-known rental place?
Convieance/lazzyness. Really, I am at fault for that part for sure!
If all cars have dings and dents I’m certainly never taking my own car out there! Sorry to hear you had so many issues but at least it makes a great story 😉
Ha! Second that!
Sorry to hear you had such a bad road trip experience. Every country has their own rule of the land, so this brings me back to Mexico when we had a similar road trip crisis. On another note, GPS is crap when it comes to exploring small towns. I’ve also learned that the hard way.
It wasn’t all that bad, a funny story in the end for sure.
Even though it sounds like it was frustrating in the moment it’s all part of the adventure and now it’s a funny story to look back on. I’ve definitely had some moments like this myself!
For sure! Obviously there is sarcasm in this and will be driving in Greece again. This day was just the perfect storm of sorts to turn me off for some time!
To be frank, car rental experience is pretty similar in almost all Mediterranean countries. I’ve heard a lot of resembling stories from people who rented a car for the first time in the Southern Europe.
Next time you rent a car in Greece, you will be prepared to such issues. And, just imagine your delight when everything goes according to your plan.
For sure. I didn’t encounter this in Spain or Serbia/Croatia/Montenegro however I used a reputable rental company.