Athens traffic
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In a word - manic. The roads are a combination of four or five lane one-way streets and the equivalent of back lanes barely wide enough for two cars.

There is no continuous flow. Chunks of traffic moves from one junction to another. Fast. As the lights change you can almost hear the instruction, 'gentlemen, start your engines'. Traffic does not drive from one junction to another - it races.

an Athens street kiosk
Motorcyclists - on anything from brand new super-bikes to decrepit mopeds - weave in between the cars, vans, trucks and buses. Helmets are optional extras. Footpaths are also considered a right of way by most motorcyclists.

Rush hour seems to be from around 5am through to 3am - though 3 to 5 is not exactly quiet. On the main roads, pedestrians should stick to the light-controlled crossings. On side roads, learn to swivel your head like an owl and be nimble on your feet.

If taxi drivers see a fare, they stop. Doesn't matter where they are in traffic, they pull over. Great for passengers. Not so for traffic flow.

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My favourite stretch of road is a section of Panepistimiou Avenue. It is a one-way multi-lane road that ends at Omonia Square. At one junction, traffic joins the road, goes up against the one-way system for fifty yards or so and exits on the other side of the avenue. Of course this is controlled by traffic lights, but if the 'crossing' traffic is held up when the lights change, you have the bizarre situation of cars facing up the wrong way of a one-way street when traffic is eager to come down. Hours of fun for the casual onlooker.

Athens: a complex junction on Panepistimiou avenue
Although I have seen cars getting a ticket - even towed away - parking is mainly wherever there is a space. Road or pavement, it doesn't matter. SMART cars are very popular for that reason.

Having said all of this, I have never seen an accident. Not even a minor bump. Go figure.

Follow the links below for more of my advice on visiting the city of Athens

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