Wednesday, 04 March 2009
When I used to think about the Greek countryside, all I could envision were beautiful olive trees and rolling hillsides. When I got there, those visions pretty much became a reality. My family and I took a trip to Athens, and decided to rent a car to take a drive out to the less inhabited regions of the country. It was absolutely amazing. The small, unpopulated streets bobbed and weaved through fields of grass and past serene looking towns next to the water. Every place we stopped into for food was better than the last. Fresh basil accompanying another fresh ingredient on top of a piece of fish that had been caught hours before. We started to have such a great time that we stopped paying such close attention to where we were going!
We were out in the middle of nowhere, passing through windmill farms and finding gas stations less and less frequently, when finally we happened upon a town. We decided to pull into the town, as we weren't sure when the next stop was going to be. When we pulled off the main road, the streets were a little tougher to navigate. I don't know if you have ever driven in Greece, but it is nothing like what I am used to at home! There are basically no rules whatsoever, and you have to cautiously (or not so cautiously as it may end up) just go for it. Step on the gas and hope for the best really! Red lights definitely don't mean that people are going to stop, and green lights mean that there is no way you will survive if you step foot into the street. So.....as luck may have it, we decided to "play it safe" and take a smaller road off to the side.
The road started to wind and weave through the clay homes and shops on either side, and we were so busy admiring our surroundings that we didn't realize the buildings beginning to close in on us. Before we knew it, we were basically stuck in between the sides of the street! We could definitely not go forward, and going backward seemed like an even worse idea. The thought of us being stuck in our car struck my brother sister and I as a pretty hilarious notion, and we started cracking up in the back seat. My dad was furious. He couldn't believe that he had gotten us into this situation, and was even more baffled with how to get us out of it.
As we sat there in the car looking around, one of the fishermen on the side of the road started to take interest in us. Before we pulled up, he was tearing apart some of his nets with one of the largest knifes I have ever seen, making my dad even more uncomfortable with the situation. He was a very intense looking man, with hardened skin from being in the sun all day and huge bulging arm muscles from lifting heavy crates. He started walking up to the car, examining our situation. We didn't speak more than a couple words of Greek, and he spoke absolutely no English, so it was a pretty precarious situation from the looks of it.
My dad kind of sign language motioned to this man that we were lost and didn't know what we were doing. He kind of stood there looking at us, assessing the situation, and then turned around to go back to his house. We thought that was that, and he had given up on us, but he came out with his wife and a couple of other people and started to motion that he was going to help us (or at least that's what we assumed he was trying to say). They all somehow directed us out of where we had ended up, all the way down to a side street that we hadn't seen. He motioned to follow the street all the way out, and we thanked him as best we could.
We somehow managed to not hit or scrape any buildings on the way out, but how we managed that is beyond me. My dad ended up laughing along with us about the whole thing.....but he was definitely not pleased while we were in it. That night, we sat out by the water and he decided to treat himself to a little ouzo in light of us not getting ourselves killed that day! All in all it was a pretty funny experience.....but it definitely could have turned out much worse than it did!
Have you ever gotten lost and ended up in a potentially bad situation? Have you ever tried to drive in Greece? What was your experience?