Will You Remember Me?

To continue my tale about our travels in Greece, today’s story is about another peculiarity I noticed – the roadside memorial.

I appreciate that roadside memorials are likely a common feature in most parts of the world, however I’m used to memorials comprised of flowers.  They are temporary in nature, and usually die away within a few weeks.

However, in Greece, they are virtually permanent – and therein lies the problem.  They don’t fade away after a couple of weeks.  They remain for years and are accumulating.  The sheer number of them is unnerving.

The structures vary from modest to elaborate, with some that were deeply rusted from age, while others appeared to be recent.

Now, layer onto this the appalling driving behaviour we encountered on the roads.  As if the twisty-turny single lane mountain roads weren’t challenging enough, too many drivers were actually PASSING slower moving vehicles.

INTO A CURVE!

ON A HILL!!

It was terrifying.

On each mountain curve, I keep expecting to see a car approaching us head-on.  I found myself starting to wonder how long it would take for our bodies to be identified, and our next of kin notified.*

Given our experience on the road, the preponderance of roadside memorials was starting to make sense.  It was easy to recognize particularly bad areas because 3 or 4 memorials would be clustered together.

If these memorials are intended, in part, to act as a stark reminder to people to slow down and exercise greater care, they don’t appear to be working.

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*My husband and my sons will tell you that I’m not a bundle of joy to drive with – unless you can overlook the random involuntary gasps of terror.

103 comments

  1. Oh my goodness, that would be completely unnerving! Pauly says I have ‘air breaks’, that’s when I draw in breath quickly. He knows if there are too many ‘air break’ noises coming from me that he needs to tone it down!

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  2. Your road in Greece sounds similar to ones I’ve been on in the Côte d’Azur region of France. Thankfully I was not navigating, because it seems no matter how fast you drive there is someone who thinks it isn’t quick enough and wants to overtake at the narrowest point!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so true!! I’m always astounded by how fast people think they need to go – and on twisty-turny roads, it’s outright insane!

      I’ve always wanted to go to the Côte d’Azur. Now I know what to expect on the roads!

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  3. My comment seems to be MIA, or this is a repeat…
    But was saying that the custom and tradition in Indonesia and India of cremation, burning the body once the soul leaves, seems to make more sense than the land that cemeteries take up. Just a thought to share in light of your post.
    Those kinds or roads scare the shit out of me… 🙂
    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

      • Glitches in the blogging world seems to the theme of the day. So many people – including me – are noting various problems, and now you are too.

        In turns of cremation, I’m noticing a new ‘trend’ that there is a greater acceptance of cremation here, but now these cremation ‘condos’ are popping up in cemeteries. It seems that as a culture, we are still having difficulty letting go.

        Gilles and I have long said that we would like to cremated, but recently I’ve started to question ‘then what?’. While we’ve firmly declared our preference for cremation, what about the ashes? I never reached an answer to my question. It appears I too have difficulty letting go 😉

        Nice to hear from you Peta. Hope all is well in your world.

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  4. Somehow the custom and tradition of burning a body once the soul moves on, in Indonesia and in India to name two that come to mind, makes so much sense. If you think of how cemeteries take up so much space and land in so many parts of the world.
    Peta

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  5. Joanne it seems like most countries other than North America have roads that were designed with enough space for one vehicle in mind. In Ireland I could barely keep my panic undercontrole sitting in the front. Betweenthe stone walls on the side and vehicles seemingly wanting to touch each other in passing my nerves were frayed.

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  6. Ooooh boy! I don’t think Greece is the place for me to be driving or even be a passenger either. Imagine passing by all that fantastic scenery but seeing almost none of it because of being focused on NOT being run off the road. Glad you are home, safe and sound Joanne!

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  7. I remember seeing lots of roadside memorials when I went to Greece in high school, but they looked a fair bit less permanent than the ones you’ve taken the photos of. I understand why there are more of them, given your description of harrowing drives, but I wonder why they are more permanent and far more elaborate than I remember.

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  8. I have never driven in Greece (or anywhere in Europe actually) but I hitch-hiked a lot and that was pretty hairy (for lots of reasons). I remember seeing roadside memorials even then (back in the ’70s). As the driver in the family (my OH falls asleep within minutes too) I can say that I am not a good passenger – for one thing I feel travel sick – but I am fairly calm when my daughter is driving. When my son started driving my car down here I was always looking at his speed and warning him of traffic cameras or where the police hide out. When I drove he too fell asleep… what is it about men as passengers? (And whatever you do don’t drive in Malta)

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    • GAH!! Yes, that would have been so much worse!
      We survived Gilles’ driving on the right in Australia, but it was touch-and-go a few times. He really struggled with the concept of driving on the opposite side. It wasn’t pretty and I aged prematurely on that trip 😉

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    • It’s interesting you should mention that. I’m used to seeing a lot of roadkill in the city – but in the form of squirrels and raccoons.

      There were just too many cats as roadkill in our travels. I appreciate it comes with the numbers, but It still bothered me 😕

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Joanne, I remember back in the late 70 s driving those horrendous winding roads in
    Greece, and the drifting drivers in and around a Athens. Strange, the memorials don’t stand out in my mind. Not sure if they would be a reminder to drive carefully. With the newer, safer cars nowadays in the US, I’m not the extreme watchful passenger. I do monitor speed limits and mention stretches of road where police cars hide! Here in CA there’s a huge texting while driving problem. We pick them out on the road and stay clear! Really enjoy your posts about Greece. Brings me right back there. 🌷 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Christine. I’m glad I could help trigger some good memories 🙂

      Texting and driving is a big problem everywhere. It is illegal here and the penalties are pretty hefty – almost $500 and 3 demerit points – but it doesn’t stop people. The reality is that unless you cause an accident, the chances of getting stopped and charged are pretty slim 😕

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  10. Oh, I remember these shrines and the terrifying driving – seems nothing has changed in 30+ years. I also do the gasping thing and I’m a seat clutcher too. I think it’s because i’m a more cautious driver than John and would be reacting much sooner to what’s ahead. He might disagree, but that’s my excuse and i’m sticking to it.

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    • hahahaha!! We’re kindred spirits 🙂

      Too many innocent people get killed on the roads because someone else was drunk / texting / fell asleep / etc. It scares me to the core and adding in the challenging terrain doesn’t help.

      I often complain about Toronto drivers, but now I’m appreciating them as being pretty tame!!

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  11. Yikes! These roadside memorials are creepy and morbid. Clearly they aren’t deterring reckless driving because, as you say, they seem to be growing in number. A few flowers, a cross, ok. But the victims of these accidents I assume are buried in a cemetery with a headstone or plaque marking their resting place. Overkill….no pun intended! 😜 A donation to a charity “in memory of…” would be nice!!

    —-Ginger—–

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  12. I’ve driven on some hairy mountain roads in BC, including logging roads. Not fun. I’m definitely like you in the backseat driver (or passenger) camp – a motor mouth. I’m constantly telling my husband to slow down!

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    • So many women have commented on the same problem. Now I’m starting to wonder if it’s because we’re used to driving ourselves, and then when we’re required to be a passenger, it’s really uncomfortable.

      I suspect men generally don’t have the same problem because they’re almost always in the driver’s seat. On those very rare occasions I’m driving and my husband is a passenger – he falls asleep within minutes. I COULD NEVER SLEEP IN A CAR!!

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  13. I am loving your posts about this trip Joanne. I haven’t been to Greece and appreciate you sharing it. I am however re-evaluating my desire to visit, certainly to be a car passenger (there’s no chance of me driving there — ever). I’m like you, an involuntarily nervous passenger, and it drives T crazy. I’ll join the consensus and say I find these memorials sad and disturbing, and clearly ineffective as road safety messages.

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    • All of us nervous passengers need to unite!

      On a positive side note, I usually grind my teeth at the traffic in Toronto. Now, in comparison, I think it’s a cake walk. This is TAME!

      Please don’t let this discourage you from someday going to Greece. It is an astounding place if you love history. We both live in very young ‘baby’ country. Visiting the seat of ‘modern civilization’ is mind-bending.

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      • Thanks Joanne. I do want to visit Greece one day. It’s one of the places I kick myself for not going to while I lived in the UK!
        Traffic here is increasingly bad — and with Christmas round the corner people are even more stressed and crazy. But at least the roads in Auckland are good, and if I travel at the right time (5am is good), I can avoid the crazy drivers. 🙂

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  14. Another interesting post, Joanne. I wonder who owns the land by the road? Did they pay someone to have that piece of land, no matter how small it is?
    Your story reminds me of my Ireland trip. The roads are narrower. Even though I sat in the back, I had to close my eyes several times.
    Have a wonderful day.

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    • I think I have serious control issues – like, if I don’t have my eyes glued to the road watching every possible obstacle, we will surely die in a crash.
      I’ve tried sightseeing and not watching the road, but in fact it makes it worse.

      I’m a real treat to drive with 😳

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  15. you are right – we usually have flowers and maybe a cross – sometimes a sign for a trooper – but these memorials are so different and maybe it does help slow some folks down – not all – and maybe it reminds folks of their mortality.
    we see a lot of bad drivers on the highway – going way too fast or crossing three lanes (while going way too fast) and just being so careless – ugh – but how the more nerve wracking when on such mountainous roads – yikes

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  16. Very interesting in a good and a bad way – nice reminder to drive carefully but pretty morbid. The only thing of late that I understand less is the memorial bumper sticker that states it is in memory of so and so with the dates and kind words. Really? Do any of us aspire to be remembered on the back end of a vehicle. 🙂

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    • I’m glad you mentioned it, Judy, because I find them really morbid too.

      At first I wasn’t even really sure what they were. The contents of the first few we stopped at didn’t give any clue as to what they were – except some kind of little chapel. The fact I couldn’t read Greek was also a factor.
      … but then I encountered one that left no doubt and it really rattled me. It was full of photos of a young man, likely in his 20s – including his wedding photo.
      At that point I no longer wanted to stop and look when I saw a new unusual one 😕

      Liked by 1 person

  17. It seems strange that they would erect permanent memorials and continue to drive in such a manner. I would not enjoy driving on those roads.

    You remind me of my mom. She would gasp at other cars and scare me half to death. Her response was always, “I didn’t think they were going to stop.” I would respond, “Mom, that car was a mile away. Stop it!”

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