You Dont Need to Be Crazy But It Helps

Life throws up some challenges, but often it is only when you are in a situation where you have no other choice, do you rise to meet the challenge. And so, it is only when yo are thrown headlong into driving on European roads do you throw away anything that resembles sanity and go with the flow. If you are not up to it, stay at home in your bedroom slippers and stay safe and sane.

I chose to meet this particular challenge and now I have almost graduated from the European school of driving? I almost have all the requirements:

  • I sit in the seat that passengers sit in in Australia
  • I overtake on double lines
  • I almost always ignore stop signs
  • I always drive over the speed limit
  • I park across car parking spaces but never in them
  • I almost never indicate when changing lanes in traffic
  • I push into traffic when I don't have right of way
  • When passing just about anything, I always just miss them, especially babies in prams and little old ladies with walking sticks.
  • I drive down one way streets
  • I drive down a street just on the speed limit, the street being wide enough to take a Fiat Panda with the side mirrors folded in and I am in a Renault Megane and manage to stop in the case of an unsuspecting householder who happens to leave the house via the front door
  • I cross busy intersections and as I go just miss, in order
    • A little old lady with a walking stick crossing 5 meters away from a pedestrian crossing
    • A Fiat panda stopped in the middle of the intersection while the driver, out of the passenger side window, talks to a man who has a barking dog on an extendable leash
    • Another motorist taking a short cut across the intersection on the wrong side of the road
    • A police car parked 2 meters away from the kerb
    • A 17th century arch which was built to ensure easy movement of two way traffic - on donkeys.
    • (did not see the baby in a pram.


Now whilst this may seem impressive, I have still some of the most crucial skills yet to master. They are skills adopted from the days of gladiatorial contests in the Colosseum and refined over time to suit modern day Europe, the time of European unification. The passing of these skills are akin to initiation ceremonies where young inexperienced tyros are put through the mill, sometimes to the point of death, just to prove they can cut it in the real world.The skills I have yet to master are:
  • Overtaking on bends
  • Overtaking on bends on mountainous roads
  • Overtaking on bends on mountainous roads with cars coming in the other direction
  • Overtaking on bends on mountainous roads with trucks coming in the other direction
  • Overtaking on bends on mountainous roads with trucks coming in the other direction whilst the trucks are passing other trucks.

  • Doing all of the above (including the first list) whilst talking on a mobile phone and lighting a cigarette simultaneously
  • Oh yes, just in case you did not realise - the one way street the wrong way - of course.
  • Doing all of the above without attracting the attention of the Cabinieri or the undertakers.
At least in "Old Europe" you do all of this in a nearly new car, with climate control air con and an over riding traffic update service which will cut in on your easy listening greatest hits of the seventies, eighties and nineties or your favourite cd by Jack Johnson or Cold Play.

Cruise control is absolutely obsolete because you are overtaking and braking every 30 seconds or so. I am sure they are working on an "I want to overtake NOW!" mode to make it usable again.In Turkey or some of the old eastern bloc countries you are more likely to be doing exactly the same in some rust bucket with brakes that barely work, a cracked windscreen and a couple of springs coming out of the seating. The one saving grace is that some enterprising mechanic will have got twice the performance out of the car than what it originally had.

Especially if it's a taxi. But then they will have disconnected the meter to make sure that performance is not impeded.Now, having reached a reasonable level of expertise, I have only five or six days to get the necessary skills and I think I can do it . There is just one problem area which I have not mentioned so far which I, like most Australians, will struggle with.

It is the ability to be able to let other drivers do all the things that I have been talking about, to you, as often as you do it to them and do it most of the time with grace and humour, or at least tolerance. It's going to be tough.See you on the roads in Australia!.

.Raymond Strachan loves life and tries to give it 110% at least 91% of the time.

A quick look at the calculator will comfirm a 100% total. He has an off centre view on just about anything as can be seen in his travel blog, http://www.booknblog.

com.View the original blog plus pics of his experience here.Article Source:


By: Raymond Strachan

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