Vacationers take to roads, ports

Thousands of Athenians took to the roads or squeezed onto packed ferries yesterday as the first big wave of summer holidaymakers left the capital. Vacationers laden with bags and suitcases thronged the ports of Attica waiting to board one of dozens of ferries setting sail for the Aegean Islands. More than 36,000 people departed from Piraeus alone on 34 ferries with another 20 ferries setting sail from Rafina and nine from Lavrio. This weekend is expected to be similarly hectic, with a total of 58 passenger ferries scheduled to leave Piraeus, 41 leaving Rafina and 14 setting sail from Lavrio. Athens International Airport was busy too, with about 200 flights taking off for domestic and international destinations with thousands more holidaymakers. On the roads, traffic police intensified patrols in a bid to ease the exodus of streams of motorists but by late afternoon there were traffic jams at key road junctions and toll posts. Construction works on the Athens-Lamia national highway and the road from Corinth to Tripoli caused some delays yesterday but fewer problems are expected today and tomorrow, according to traffic police. Motorists leaving the capital on Monday will be less fortunate, as diversions are to be set up, which means delays are likely. Thousands more Athenians are expected to abandon the capital in waves over the next few weeks with the next major exodus likely prior to the Dormition of the Virgin religious holiday, one of the most important in the Greek Orthodox calendar, on Saturday, August 15.

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