The drive from Hell
Athens Travel Blog› entry 43 of 44 › view all entries
I've been dreading writing this entry for some time...
We left from Rafina about 2 hours before we needed to have the rental car back. Our flight wasn't until the morning, so there was no issue there, but I didn't want this place to hit us up with a bunch of fees...so off we went. Right off the bat it was dark and the road split into a V, leaving us no indication of which path to take. We drove and drove for a good 30 minutes, not seeing one sign for the airport. The map we had didn't show all these little back roads we were driving on, so that added to the nightmare. We finally found a little restaurant in the middle of nowhere, and I was already fuming so Cathy asked for directions. We followed what the guy told her and ended up in some city's down town area where there were cars and people everywhere. It was a Saturday night, after all. It took us forever to get through, and although we were told to look for signs, we still never found any.
We stopped to top off the tank and ask for directions again. We'd already been driving for 45 minutes and now I could no longer hear planes flying by. We asked this attendant for directions and took off. His route took us to the middle of nowhere. I mean, no street lights, no other cars, pitch black. How could this be the way to the airport? Where were the signs? Where were we?? There were several places where we had to make a turn, so we just started guessing as to which seemed to be the better way. "I think I see lights in the distance", or "That way looks less scary". I was so mad by this point that I was done talking.
We eventually reached another small down, where we had to again stop for gas (the gage was showing well below full, somehow we got ripped off). Although I was so mad and I probably didn't have to top off again, I did anyway. Cathy asked one more time for directions, and this time the guy told us about the freeway we needed to reach to make it to the airport. It had now been 1.5 hours since we left Rafina, which on the map is so close to the airport. We had STILL never seen a sign for the airport OR the highway, we were just trusting in the words we'd heard. Praise God, we finally came across the new highway that was constructed just to bring traffic to the airport. We were home free.
We got on the highway, and since it is a highway cars are going between 100 and 120 kph, so I had to floor it as to not get hit. We looked for signs for the terminal and when we saw the sign at the last minute, it was too late to slow down and make the amost 90 degree turn to get off the highway with cars coming behind you. I was once again furious as we looped around and headed back in the opposite direction. I was worried we'd run into some toll before we could turn around again, but fortunately we did not. Our second attempt at getting off the highway turned out much the same as the first, we missed the ramp and had to reloop again. I finally got it right on the third day, slamming on the brakes and veering off the highway onto the insane off ramp.
Now we had to follow the signs to the rental car drop off, which we did with relative ease. When we got to the parking area, there was no sign telling us where to leave the car. So, we drove around the parking lot for a while, looking for the Hertz signs and the place to drop off the vehicle. I drove us down a narrow pathway that dead-ended with cars parked on either side of me, and as I tried to back out I smacked into a parked car. Even madder than before, I sped off and parked the car in the first spot I could find to see the damage.
I had managed to put some nice scrapes in the right rear of the car, but it was all cosmetic. At this point, I didn't care how bad it was. Leaving the car there, we grabbed our gear and went into the rental car office. For whatever reason, the agent working for our rental car company wasn't there, so we had to head into the terminal and find the agents inside. When we got there, I slammed down the keys and made a comment about putting up some signs. Cathy took care of the paperwork.
It was now after 9PM, and since we had to be up at 4 to be ready for our flight, we found some available seats that we could try to get some sleep in. They had limited free internet, and I found out that the Cubs had lost their playoff games and were done for the season...there's always next year. With the day from Hell behind us, we slept what little bit we could that night.