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Your experience with a car rental in Greece

Your experience with a car rental in Greece

Aug 18th, 2001, 03:47 AM
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Your experience with a car rental in Greece

We are planning a trip to Peloponnese for two weeks next Spring. After staying in Athens where to rent a car if we want to avoid a traffic in Athens? We heard that driving there would be almost suicidal. Can you recommend any specific company or any company should we avoid? If we are going to rent a car in some other place than Athens how to get there from Athens? Would you please tell me a cost for two weeks? Any tips and suggestions on renting a car in Greece? Thank you
Aug 18th, 2001, 12:37 PM
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For our trip in August 2000, after some research, I used the US based broker "AutoEurope". They in turn set you up with the actual car rental agency, which turned out to be EuropCar (don't confuse the two!). The way it works is, you pay AutoEurope the full amount in advance, and they send you vouchers to present at the actual rental agency. AutoEurope is reputable & had good customer service, everything worked without a hitch.

You may ask, "why bother with the inermediary broker?" After doing a lot of comparison shopping, it turned out AutoEurope was significantly cheaper (at least 20% less) than my dealing direct with a major rental agency (Hertz, EuropCar, National, etc)- go figure.

I rented the largest vehicle I could reasonably afford, a mid-sized (by US standards) 4 dr sedan Renault Lagune. It cost $600 for an 11 day rental, all taxes included. The Lagune was quite comfortable, had A/C (make sure it's "guaranteed" as opposed to a mere "request"), and dual airbags.

While driving in Greece requires great vigilance, I wouldn't call it suicidal. I think it's essential to have a passenger acting as a navigator, since roads are often poorly marked by US standards (some harrowing tales here). Once in the countryside, I also found having an inexpensive compass was useful.

Some tips:
- avoid driving the high speed, open highways at night. With blind curves, poor lighting, and over agressive drivers, this seemed prudent to me. Local roads at night, not as much of a problem.
- oncoming traffic will often pass slower vehicles under crazy conditions. Be VERY alert for oncoming traffic that may veer into your lane.
- keep your headlights ON when driving the open Highway. Other drivers will 'flash' you, thinking you forgot your lights on. But, it makes you VERY visible to oncoming traffic.
- buy a Michelin #980 map for planning your overall route. The rental agency had good maps of the Athens region, but it had too MUCH detail of the countryside and was harder to use than the Michelin map.

I took delivery from the EuropCar office on Syngrou Ave in central Athens. Getting out of, and back into, Athens was arduous-- be patient and have planned your route in advance, due to the poor signage and numerous 1-way streets.

The Europcar agents were extremely helpful in recommending the best route out of the Athens metropolitan area. On my return, they even called the ferry boat company for the daysí shedule to Hydra and then called a cab for me to take to Piraeus!

Since you're going to be in the Peloponnese, I'd highly recommend driving the "mountain road" (forget it's #) between Olympia & Nauflio, rather than taking the main highway. The mountain road passes through some interesting medieval villages (Langadia, Dimitsena, etc-- there was a NY Times travel article on this a couple weeks ago). The scenery is all- around fascinating ; it's a world apart from the "normal" tourist routes.
Aug 18th, 2001, 03:24 PM
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couple more car rental suggestions-

- a tire pressure guage, as they are uncommon at petrol stations & probably are as unreliable as their US counterparts.

A pair of light work gloves. I had to change a tire, didn't particularly like having gunky messy hands & no immedaite way to clean off. The tire leak developed in Nauflio on a Sunday, trying to get the tire repaired or changed was impossible. It's most definitely not the US level of convenience!

I'm going to bring the gloves & air guage with me next time, rather than trying to hunt them down there. Since there are no Targets, Walmarts, Pep Boys, etc, there, what would be an incidental purchase in the US becomes very time consuming there, & I'd rather not spend my vacation time hunting it down.
Aug 21st, 2001, 02:59 AM
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Thank you for providing such extensive and valuable information. I will check out Auto Europe. Do they have a web site?
Are car rental agencies open on weekend?
Aug 21st, 2001, 04:08 AM
Neal Sanders
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Nick, we also picked up car in Athens and toured the Peloponnese and southern Attica. Like Tom, we also rented through EuropCar, which was efficient and reasonably priced. Getting out of Athens was the hardest part; driving through the Peloponnese was was a pleasure (though the road signs are in Greek, which doesn't help). As to the "mountain road" between Olympia and Naupflio, it is indeed a pleasure. We drove it inadvertently three times -- the last two to retrieve my wife's passport which we have left behind in Olympia!

The people we encountered were uniformly wonderful, the landscape is enchanting, the history is everywhere. Spring is a perfect time to be there.
Aug 21st, 2001, 05:18 AM
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AutoEurope can be reached at www.autoeurope.com or by calling 800-223-5555 in the USA.
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