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We don’t have a car here on Crete. We could rent one (or rent a motorcycle, which was our original plan), but after ten minutes of watching Cretan drivers, no one in his right mind would choose to drive himself, especially on a moto. It’s best to take the bus, and there are lots of buses.

Whether it’s a long-distance bus or local, most buses share these things in common:

  • They’re luxurious. They’re air-conditioned. The upholstery is elegant and in good condition. They’re clean, inside and out. They’re quiet. They don’t smell.
Our beach bus attendant.

Our beach bus attendant.

  • There’s an attendant. Cretan bus attendants are sort of like the flight attendants on airlines (although they don’t serve refreshments :::sigh:::). They answer questions and call out the stops you’ve requested. They also take money, so the driver can concentrate on avoiding abrupt and unintended contact with the Cretan drivers mentioned above.
  • They’re inexpensive. A twenty-minute bus ride to the beach costs 1.60€ – about $2.
  • They’re frequent. Local buses on popular routes come by about every half hour.

That’s all very nice, but what I found most interesting (and discordant) about our beach bus is that even though it’s an articulated beast that seats over a hundred passengers (and is the largest vehicle on Cretan roads – picture above), even though it has an attendant, even though the upholstery is custom-woven, even though it has A/C and is meticulously clean, the driver pumps his own gas.

Our driver (left) watches while our attendant mans the pump. Photo taken from inside the bus.

Our driver (left) watches while our attendant mans the pump. Photo taken from inside the bus.

When the tank runs low, the driver pulls into the nearest station, hops out, and fills ’er up – while a hundred passengers inside the bus watch. No one gives it a second thought.

Fuel here costs about $10 per US gallon. I’d hate to see his bill.