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9:06pm on Wednesday, 16th September, 2009:

A Different World


As befits a country with a long tradition in making timepieces, Switzerland runs like clockwork. If the bus timetable says there will be a bus at 11:19pm, then at 11:19pm there will be a bus.

Greece is not Switzerland.

My flight from Athens to Iraklion was delayed by an hour because, well, it just was. I had been allocated seat 9F by the window, but when I boarded the plane the seats only went from A to E. I eventually had to sit in the middle of a row of 3. The girl to my right, next to the window, never looked out of it once; by way of contrast, the guy to my left strained to look out of it at the slightest opportunity.

The taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was, thankfully, uneventful. I say thankfully, because there were so many opportunities for accidents that it's staggering we weren't involved in one. The road had clear signs saying 90km/h and no overtaking; the driver drove a stead 115km/h and overtook with cheerful abandon. He used what I took to be the hard shoulder as a lane for cutting corners. He also used it when traffic coming the other way disregarded the double white lines down the middle of the road and overtook people on their side by coming onto ours.

The only time he met with any difficulty was when there was a wide vehicle going slowly that he couldn't overtake because of oncoming traffic. As soon as it was clear he sped past, though — on a blind corner.

He kept getting calls on his mobile phone, too. To his credit, he did switch to bluetooth, but this was only because he needed to gesture wildly with his hands when he talked and would have been unable to do that if one were holding a phone. It's quite surprising how far a car can travel in a straight line with no-one holding the wheel; if only the roads in Crete were straight.

The hotel is actually pretty swanky. It's a "resort", which means half a dozen swimming pools, chalets all around, the beach right there, and no ready access to civilisation. If I want the Internet, I have to use dial-up. I'm hoping that the conference room tomorrow will have wireless, but I wouldn't bet on it. Even if it does, there's a fair chance the technology will be in place but simply won't work. I had to have my room key replaced 3 times until I got one that worked.

Still, it's 11pm and 23 degrees Celsius outside, so who cares?

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).