The writings of Bill Mousoulis
Glimpses of Greece:
I arrived in
crisis averted, I then had to catch a taxi for a
But I averted that crisis too and landed safely in the port city of Volos. Never having travelled overseas before, it took me some weeks to adjust to the right-hand-side drive, and still today I make sure I look both ways when I cross any road, as a pedestrian. I have never driven a car, but even as a pedestrian you have to know what the cars are doing.
And then I had an epiphany. Having had a month or two to adjust to the madness, I was sitting in a café in Volos, looking at a busy street intersection, when it clicked. This wasn’t madness – it was beauty. I stared at that intersection for 30 minutes in blinding awe. The cars, the people, the motorbikes, the stray dogs even – they weaved in and out of each other with great dexterity and harmony. It was an epiphanic moment for me because I knew at that moment that I would be able to live in Greece more permanently.
Now, two years later, it is second nature to me. And very pleasurable. Unquestionably, the movement of traffic in Greece is intelligent, inventive, efficient and harmonious. Mothers wheel prams on the roads because the footpaths are broken; motorbikes zoom along on footpaths next to pedestrians; people cross busy roads with great ease; cars double-park but quickly move if a bus driver honks his horn.
There is no comparison with Australia, where the traffic is completely ordered. But Greeks simply don’t have the space – dense living dictates they have to utilise every inch to get by. It’s fascinating walking through the streets of Athens, observing this precise complexity of movement.
Of course, the road fatality rate in Greece is double that of Australia’s, but this is mainly due to speeding on country roads – very few accidents seem to happen on the city streets themselves.
people from outside
© Bill Mousoulis 2010
This article first appeared in Neos Kosmos, 2010.