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Driving in Greece

In May, we twice rented a car while in Greece; four days in Crete and 5 days around Nafplio. Both times we rented from Sixt (Heraklion and Athens airports). Overall, the experience with Sixt was great. Good cars at a reasonable rate. I bought the full insurance so the collision damage deductible was zero, which was a good thing. More on that later. I thought driving in Greece was like other parts of Europe we had been to with the roads being were very similar to Provence. Traffic was generally light, even on the tollroad around Athens. For the most part, stop signs are treated as yield signs. On roads with a wide shoulder, you are expected to drive on the shoulder to let cars pass. Seemed natural after a short while. All the gas stations we stopped had something we hadn’t experience for a long time; the fuel was pumped by the attendants. Make sure you carefully count your change if you pay with cash as an attendant in Nafplio tried to cheat me out of 5 Euros. I got my money back with a little persistence.

We had a problem with GPS that we hadn’t experienced in other countries. I normally use CoPilot on my phone. Both cars also came equipped with GPS. The problem is there are several spellings for every town and street. You had to use the spelling that worked on the particular GPS or you couldn’t find it. Often, the spelling was different for each GPS. I later used downloaded Google maps and that solved the problem.

In Heraklion, we did have a minor fender bender or in our case a cracked fender (it was plastic). We were on a narrow one way street when we heard a big bang. A door from a parked car hit our left front fender. The car was parked to our left with two wheels on the sidewalk. A young boy started to open the passenger door and because it was on a slope, it got away from him and hit our car. The boy’s parents were very apologetic and took full blame for the accident. I called Sixt and they said we needed a police report. So we called the police. The police took my drivers license and insurance information. I then realized I had a IDP in the car. So I got it and gave it to the officer. She said, “What’s this?” I said International Drivers Permit. She quickly looked at it and put it aside. All the information they needed came from my drivers license They could have cared less that I had an IDP as they never used it. I had read many posts on here about the dire consequences of not having an IDP in Greece, but in my case it had no value. Wasn’t even required to rent a car. I still will continue getting one, but it was funny it was not needed after all the posts I had read. From the time we were hit until we got another car took two hours. I didn’t think that was bad considering we had to wait a long time for the police to arrive. Since I had full insurance (and the police report said it wasn’t my fault), I didn’t have to pay anything for the damage. I’m a firm believer in having some form of insurance to cover potential accident damage expenses. Our minor accident certainly won’t stop us from renting cars in the future.

Posted by
2060 posts

Over the years, we have also rented several cars without the rental agent even looking at our IDP. But of course, the one time we did NOT bring an IDP (and this was in Greece), the rental agent refused to rent a car to us. So ever since, we have carried one ... just in case.

Posted by
6166 posts

Evidently the cop who took your report was familiar enough with English and our licenses to be satisfied with your license. That wouldn't necessarily be true of every cop you might encounter in Europe after an accident or being pulled over for some reason. I think IDP is still a good idea. The rental companies usually don't care because their staff knows enough to accept a valid US license, but you can't be sure about every cop in Europe.

We experienced the drive-on-shoulder ethic on a long drive from Corinth west to the big bridge over the Gulf. With construction it was basically a three lane "freeway" with the center lane for passing -- in either direction -- at freeway-like speeds. Luckily I wasn't driving! ;-)

Sorry about your misfortune in Heraklion, glad no one was hurt. Good to know these things can have happy endings.