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Greeks’ mass Easter exodus, for the first time after two pandemic years

Greeks are leaving the big cities for the countryside where they can enjoy the Easter traditions with relatives and friends in a village or an island, after two years of lockdown and moving restrictions that spoiled the fun on the biggest celebration of the Orthodoxy.

With private cars, intercity buses, ships, trains and airplanes thousands of Greeks left for the long weekend, April 22-25.

With the Good Friday being the “official” start of the Easter mass exodus, traffic congestion has been recorded at the exit points of Athens and has been steadily growing since Holy Wednesday.

Traffic on highways has increased by about 9% compared to 2019. However, the increase in fuel prices has impacted the use of cars.

According to the Traffic Police, the traffic on the Elefsina tolls is particularly high, while the situation is better on the national highway Athens – Lamia where traffic is increased, but there is a steady flow.

A friend who was driving on Athens-Corinth highway on Thursday evening was telling me that at some point “traffic was practially halted over one hour>

It is worth noting the big difference that exists in the number of motorists who left Attica for Easter last year, in the middle of a lockdown, compared to this year. According to Traffic Police data, last year on Holy Thursday passed through the two national networks, a total of 33,279 (15,552 from Athens-Corinth and 17,727 from Athens-Lamia) while this year a total of 115,534 cars passed (67,251 from Athens-Corinth and 48,283 Athens – Lamia).

Ships and ferries have been leaving the port of Piraeus for the Aegean islands, many of them with full capacity.

Intercity buses already recorded an average passengers increase of 30-35% compared to pre-pandemic levels. Top destinations are Peloponnese and Epirus in north-western Greece that has shown an increase of 50% compared to 2019.
Trains on the Athens-Thessaloniki route are close to capacity of 100 percent.
Favorite destinations are reportedly the Cyclades and the islands in the Saronic Gulf as well as Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Corfu, while on the mainland top destinations are Thessaly in central Greece and Thessaloniki, in the North.

Significant traffic has been observed also at the airports across the country, with preferred destinations being Cyprus, England, France and Germany, with flights departing at 85% capacity.

Athens International Airport will see 130 planes arriving and 136 departing on Friday.

The Easter “exodus” is expected to peak until late Good Friday and Holy Saturday morning.

The majority of the thousands of Greeks will have to return on Monday, to be at work early Tuesday morning.

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