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Got a European driving story?

Got a European driving story? Some of us thought it would be fun to share "Adventures Driving in Europe" stories and I was elected to go first. This is the day I learned that Europeans must take Parallel Parking 101. It was in the Italian Hilltown country and the B&B owner had offered to park the car when we checked in, now we're checking out and I discover the car had been parallel parked 3" from the side of a building, and subsequent to that, cars had been parked in front and back of it with less than 18 inches between bumpers. The B&B owner was not inclined to try to locate either of the other drivers. My car was a manual shift and I knew I couldn't edge it forward and backward a few inches without brutalizing the cars on either side when the clutch engaged. To my North American parking eye, it looked like I was going to need a crane to get that car out of that space. While I was standing there contemplating what to do next, a German driving a tour van saw my predicament, came to the rescue, and extricated the car in short order. ADD YOUR STORIES HERE!

Posted by
103 posts

Before knowing they were being transfered to Aviano Air Force base, my daughter and her husband purchased a HUGE Yukon which was perfect for the icy winters in Utah.. they are now in charming Polcenigo, a medeival village that boasts quiet charm and little cobblestone roads that are barely wide enough for the villagers who usually walk or ride their bikes.. It was complete coronary time when I was clutching on for dear life to anything I could find as we careened around the village squares.. the round abouts and byways, dodging the walkers, riders and folks in minis shaking their fists at the behemoth that was taking up every square inch of road space, parking lots and autostrada. Once while traveling up to Mezamonte we actually had to BACK OUT the mountain road as there was no place to turn the beast around. They have an ad in the Stars and Stripes: "For Sale.. Make offer"

Posted by
320 posts

It was a fantastic summer day in 2004. My wife & I and the two kids were in our cute little Renault Kangoo - heading south from Florence toward Greve on S222 (a fairly narrow two-lane highway).

We were on a flat sweeping curve left - when what appeared before me - on the far left shoulder was a slow moving but huge tour bus - passing the tour bus was a small motorcycle mostly in my lane of travel coming right at me - AND passing him was a big BMW all the way in my lane - I had to bail out in the right side ditch! My heart was pumping right out of my chest!

After a few calm moments and some bottled water I was able to resume our journey. Oh Well - "Normale"

I must not have been too scared - we're going back again in just a couple of weeks.

Posted by
103 posts

Hey Jon.. Are you sure that Beemer wasn't a GIANT Yukon in disguise???. I seem to remember a particularly harrowing encounter with a Kangoo on the way to Lido di Jesolo.. Kate

Posted by
103 posts

Well almost as scary as driving is walking and having to flatten yourself against a wall while the minis scream past you. Those roads ARE wide goat paths Kent. I don't know how the cyclist do it.. I watch them peddling blithely, oblivious to the fact that the cars come only inches from them. Gutsy those Italians!!

Posted by
805 posts

Several years ago, we were driving in France when suddenly our Renault started saying something about "le frein à main". Even though my parents knew French pretty well, they couldn't figure out what it was saying. We finally find a gas station and the attendant calmly explains that the car was telling us that we hadn't released our parking brake. Luckily no damage was done and we had a good laugh at ourselves.

Posted by
1352 posts

Thanks for sharing Kent! I think this thread is a great idea. We've always done Europe mostly by rail, but we are planning on doing the majority of our next trip by car. This kind of info is great - informative and entertaining!

Posted by
103 posts

The GPS is a MUST.. Learning to trust it can be an issue... It will tell you when to turn on the turn-a-rounds.. it will get you back on course after you've missed the turn coz you didn't trust it.. I loved our GPS almost as much as I hated the Yukon!! But I have to tell you, taking a picnic lunch and driving through the Prosecco country stopping whenever and wherever, was fabuloso..We pulled over many times to take pictures, walk through a village, chat with a stranger who soon became a friend and would guide up to the best gelatto in town. Driving does have it's benefits.

Posted by
59 posts

We drove through Tuscany in a 7 passenger van last fall and had several adventures with roads signs. One was a blue sign with a T shape, which we came to call "Larry, back up". Which is what the driver, Larry, had to do. We later figured it out that it meant dead end.

TAB

Posted by
689 posts

Mirrors are a hazzard. No time to use them anyway. By the time whatever you see in them is visible - it has passed you anyway!

Never heard boo from EuropCar either... Guess the insurance covered it!!!

Posted by
39 posts

I'm enjoying this thread very much. Cool stories.

When I was living in Puglia in the early 70's I flew up to London to buy a Triumph motorcycle.

Before leaving I was told that if I were stopped for a traffic infraction I should pretend I didn't understand the police.

I was running late for my return to Brindisi so just south of Ancona I was really boogying when the Carabinieri stepped out from the side of the road waving me down with his "lolipop". I speak Italian pretty well since my mother is Italian, but I remembered what my friend had told me before I'd left... After a few minutes of listening to my "huh's?" and "what's?" and "nein kapeeshco's" the cop got so frustrated he finally just waved me on with a "Vai! vai! Fa via!", signaling with his hands for me to slow down. I rode off with a "Grazie mille, signore! Tu sei molto gentile!" LOL

PS - I was a young pinhead at the time. I don't recommend any of the above! :-)

Posted by
689 posts

In 2005 Hubby and I were on a road trip which included stops in Porto San Steffano, Orvietto, Florence, Monterossa, Venice, and Rome.

Our driving adventure was uneventful - until we went to Monterossa in the CT. The journey in was .. ok. The road is about 1 1/2 lanes on which traffic flows both directions. Of course the road is bordered by cliff on one side and plunging down the cliff on the other. We found our way down without mishap. phew. But then we did have to leave. And it was trash day. Ever meet a full size trash truck, picking up trash, sitting in the middle of a 1 1/2 lane road? Not fun. Luckily we were on the "inside" of the road so we squished over to the cliff as close as we could go - closer closer closer ooops. Bye bye passenger side mirror. We should have thought to fold in the mirror - before the cliff did it for us. We sat right there and made the trash truck manuver around us. Ugh.

Now we know why the trains are so frequent in the CT!

Posted by
689 posts

Bob- That is a good one!!! And note - it was the 70's!!!

Posted by
934 posts

A number of years ago I was driving on the freeway in France.The road was three lanes and I was in the right lane.Two semi trailers were 100 yards ahead in the two right lanes.in my mirror I saw two motorcycles coming fast in the second lane.They were probably going about 80 MPH and passed me and then went between the two semis.They managed to make it but it had to be close.Only one life but.

Posted by
9 posts

I have never seen anything like the way people drive when we went to Tuscany! Those freeways were unbelievable. I thought my husband would kill us all, but thank goodness, his nerves of steel saw us through.

Posted by
103 posts

I've heard that driving in Firenze is NOT for the weak of heart... any tales to tell..
( take it Kent!!)

Posted by
196 posts

This is a great category!

Coming into Coventry from Yorkshire, we were following directions to our B&B from the TIC. We could see the name of the road we needed to be on but couldn't find an exit to reach it. After several tries, I finally saw a police station and pulled into the only spot available, marked "official use only"----I was so frazzled by that time that I didn't care. The officer on duty went to a large city map and showed me the route, but I was too tired and after seeing my face, he said, "Follow me, Madam". Fortunately, he didn't put on lights or siren as he led us to the B&B. Our hosts took one look at the TIC directions and said it was no wonder we got lost. A nice dinner and a couple glasses of wine restored my equilibrium.

Posted by
221 posts

first time/last time I rent a car abroad. I was in Scotland with my youngest son and picked up the rental from the Hertz shop at the Edinburugh train station. Right side at the wheel, left side of road and a round about in the first 3 minutes. I pulled out of the roundabout to take a deep breath onto a residential street and under estimated the distance between a stone wall and the front of the car and crunched the front bumper, all in 10 minutes. After some choice words and tears, we were off to drive around the Lochs and go to Loch Ness where my son was hot to go to the Nessie Museum and the Castle. I had gotten the max insurance but still had to pay a big fat deductible. Never again, I take trains and buses now. But if I were to give anyone advice it would be to practice driving around a parking lot first for awhile and take a few practice swoops around the roundabouts. It was also difficult since I didn't have an adult co-pilot. It seems funny now.

Posted by
9363 posts

I've never had a big problem with driving on the other side of the road, even when driving a stick shift car. But maybe that has something to do with my being lefthanded anyway -- it just doesn't seem backward to me. Take your time before going out into traffic, and you should be fine.

Posted by
22 posts

My husband I went to England for our 25th anniversary (13 years ago). I had arranged for a rental car, with a stick shift. After we arrived at Heathrow, off we went. Bob did great, since he had never driven "on the opposite side of the road" before. After we freshened up at our B&B, we decided to take a little drive. All went well until we were returning. I was the navigator and not used to seeing roadsigns that had all the cities listed from point A to Z, so long story short as we hit the first roundabout, we made a wrong turn....no problem, just go to the next one and turn around. But, no...another wrong turn. All in all, we went through 4 roundabouts before we figured it out and threaded our way back. I always figured it was a miracle that we ever found the B&B again. It was a great trip :)

Posted by
9363 posts

LOL, been there, Kent. I let my son drive (briefly, very briefly) when we were in Ireland last time. I couldn't handle the stress of watching that wall go by myself. That's why I preferred to drive. But I do love roundabouts. If you make a wrong choice you just have to turn around and try it again. And if you get on and can't figure out which exit to take, just go around again until you do.

Posted by
2634 posts

I'm like Nancy, I haven't had any problems driving on the left side in the UK. I always get an automatic car, I had a manual car once, it was alright but I like the automatics matter. Actually, I think its fun and the roundabouts are great. Here in the town I live we have a cirle as the main intersection like the roundabouts, it seems like nobody knows how to drive in it. I always think that they should go to the UK and practice on the roundabouts.

Posted by
22 posts

We also have "circles" where I live and you're right, no one knows how to get off and off, so there is always congestion. I loved the way roundabouts were designed in England, it was so easy to figure out (once I had some sleep, ha!) We also had a few brushes with the hedgerows while driving on the very narrow roads in the English countryside. If the mirror started clipping the hedge, you knew you were over as far as you could go, LOL.

Posted by
103 posts

Well.. one more story about the much maligned Yukon,then I'm done.
What I failed to mention is that there was always a teething two year old en tow aaaannnd of course all the accroutements that go along with a toddler . If we were lucky enough to find a parking spot, it would be too narrow to open the doors to haul said accroutements out..so Tina ( our daughter and stalwart driver) would barrel around the one way goat paths while Grandma and Grandpa shopped.. ( what a gal!!) plus... here's the embarrassing part... if we were lucky enough to find a spot wide enough ... all the villagers would gather around to view the mammoth, try to pet it and feed it peanuts..

Posted by
8 posts

Enjoyed reading about other travelers experience driving in UK and Ireland.
Driving in Ireland last summer had some interesting moments. I thought I was smart to stay and also pick up the car away from Dublin city center.First problem was leaving the city. The signs are practically non-existent. After driving for about half an hour and making turns based on my gut feeling, I was back to within one block from our hotel.I tried again, making turns in the other direction than before, and made it out of town.A detailed map or GPS would be helpful. Another suggestion - as soon as you get your rental car, take off the hubcaps on the left side until you return the car. The curbs in those narrow streets will crunch them in no time. John

Posted by
103 posts

Kent.. the biggest( and only) obstacle with the GPS is learning to trust it.. for an over acheiving rageing control freak like myself.. it was nigh on to impossible.. but fortunately I found it does work! Be sure and give it a name.. makes it more like a passenger who knows his way rather than an electrical device that's smarter than you.
Have a great trip and we all hope to hear lots and lots of wonderful tales when you get home.. Bon Voyage and happy trails.. KATE

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1767 posts

Several years ago I was working at a location in Switzerland. It was on the border with Germany and we stayed in Germany. On day 1, the client gave us one of thier cars & we followed them back to our hotel. Sadly, we were jetlagged & not paying enough attention so the next day we could NOT get back. Somehow we wound up at the "big" border checkpoint as opposed to the "little" one. The Swiss would not let us in without INSURANCE papers. (Which I could not find) So after a SCENE at the border we were allowed to STAY in Germany. We finally found the right border crossing where they just waived us by. We still did not know where we were going. We went to the post office & all kinds of places to ask. We did not know the address & no one had heard of the place. Finally a woman at a gas station helped us. As we come out with our directions I begin to laugh. There in LARGE letters on the side of the car was the name & address (and the papers were in the glove box UNDER the steering wheel)

Posted by
12040 posts

"All roads lead to Ausfahrt". Enough said...

Posted by
365 posts

A few weeks in Tuscany, I was driving our rental car near Cortona. Approaching a road construction site, a dump truck was stopped in my lane. My experience with temporary traffic control at Italian road projects led me to believe that the proper course of action was to drive around the truck and continue my journey. Just past the truck, I heard a loud honk and looked back to see a tiny traffic signal on the side of the road for which the truck had blocked my view. It was half of the automated one-lane traffic control setup. My wife was..concerned. Luckily I didn't meet any cars coming the other way and passed through unscathed. A few miles up the road passing through a small town I was directed to the side of the road by a caribinieri gentleman with his lollipop, his young machine gun-wielding coworker standing nearby. I feared this had something to do with the previous events, but it was just a random stop. Upon finding I was a clueless tourist, I was set free. Yes!

Posted by
365 posts

Based on Kent's comment for which I agree, I am compelled to elaborate a little bit. I knew there was construction ahead. I even knew about these automated one-lane traffic control systems. If there had been a passenger car stopped in my lane that would have definitely been my cue to stop, I wouldn't have gone around. I assumed the dump truck was just part of the construction effort as I saw no flaggers or actual construction equipment moving. This happened in July 2007.

When I told our agritourismo hostess about the caribinieri stop, she stated these types of random stops are typical and just part of the accepted level of harassment of the locals by the national police. Here's the funny part..she said they've watched "Cops" and a distinctive part of the show is how polite the US police officers are to everyone. A politeness you would never expect, she pointed out, from the Italian caribinieri...

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479 posts

I was driving through the Tuscan countryside in March. One of those weather systems came through where it was snowing at the top of the hills and raining at the bottom. Since all of the towns are at the top of hills, we were on very windy and narrow roads.

We got caught in a backup behind a semi that was going so slow that 1st gear was too fast. So I did something stupid. I was in a lineup of about 25 cars. I was #25 in the line and the semi was #1. We got to a section where the road was somewhat straight, so I gunned it and passed all 23 other cars and the semi on the left in a no passing zone while it was snowing and we were going downhill and I couldn't see if anyone was coming.

We made it. Man, that was stupid. But it would have taken us the rest of the day to get down that hill at the rate we were going (about 3mph!). I don't advocate doing that. But Italians drive like that all the time. I was just trying to fit in.

Posted by
11798 posts

Three quick stupid me driving stories.

I drove a manual van in Australia, everything is on the opposite side. I was really happy with my ability to adjust. Within seconds my passengers were screaming, "Left! Left!" I asked, "Do you want me to turn left up here?" They said, "No! Drive on the left!"

In Amsterdam, I was looking for a place to turn around in heavy traffic. I noticed a taxi dart down a side road and followed. Within a block the taxi pulled off. About a block later two cops, on bicycles, pulled me over. I was in a buses only lane. They let me off with a warning but my wife still jokes about being pulled over by bicycles.

I leased a Renault Grand Scenic II. Instead of a key, it has a card you put in the dash and a start button. Similar to our keys, the card has lock/unlock buttons. I repeatedly locked the car then went back to check it. The door kept opening. Turns out the card has a proximity device, when it gets close to the car it unlocks automatically.

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8303 posts

I have two stories...When we arrived in Germany we picked up our van and headed to the Black Forest to hook up with the rest of the family. There were 7 of us from California and my 5 German relatives. For the 4 days we spent together it was all good. All I had to do was follow another car or directions I was being given. I had map quested the rest of my destinations and when we all parted I headed for Fussen. I followed the directions, and also the signs pointing to the hotel once I reached town, but couldn't find the hotel. I just kept driving around, getting more and more frusterated. Then I realized that what I thought was a pedestrian zone was actually a skinny cobblestoned street. What a relief! The 2nd story involves our arrival in Paris. We drove from Amsterdam and the plan was to unload our bags at the hotel and turn the car in. I ended up on Charles DeGaulle Circle, totally unexpectedly. All I could think of was (to be continued)

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8303 posts

Continued...Holy Cow (okay, I'll admit it, I didn't say Cow), now what do I do? I've been driving in cities since I was 16, have driven all over the U.S. and Canada, and had never encountered anything like this. Talk about chaos! At that point all I wanted was to get out of there. I had my husband telling me one way to go, and my sister telling me something else. Finally I told them to just quit talking to me before we all died in a horrible accident because I didn't have clue how to get off this road. I knew we were staying near the Eiffel Tower, so I just headed in that direction. I finally found the hotel. I could hardly wait until I could get rid of that car. Unfortunately, the desk clerk couldn't tell me how to get to the location to turn it in. What a day! Driving was easy...until then. NEVER drive in Paris if you can avoid it!

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934 posts

I guess Im the exception.Ive been to Europe 7 times since 1996.Im now 69 and ive driven every trip but one.Ive driven in Ireland on the the left,Italy,Slovenia,Germany,Austria,Switzerland,France,Holland,Belgium.I really dont think it is all that difficult.The first four times I used maps and a good navigator and the last two a GPS>The GPS makes it much easier.Stay out of the large cities with the car and it works pretty well for me.

Posted by
468 posts

Once we were driving on the A1 in one of the areas where it goes to three lanes. Traffic was pretty heavy. My husband said "look behind us" and it was some sort of motorcycle club. The were all dressed in colorful leather and were riding those motorcycles where you really have to lean over the bike, and they were coming between the vehicles on the white lines between the lanes! They were pretty trusting that the drivers knew what they were doing.

A second time we were on the A1 and my husband said "look quick." Almost immediately two red Ferraris, nose to tail not a foot apart, blew by us. I can still remember what they sounded like. Needless to say, we didn't see them long because they were MOVING.

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11 posts

Narrow Streets? I learned what they were three years ago when my wife and I rented a house in Menerbes, France. I had wanted to rent a nice sporty BMW convertable to enjoy the Provencal weather but my ever practical wife did her research (this was before I was a true follower of the Way Of Rick) and we got a small Renault Clio instead. On the drive up from Aix to Menerbes I was impressed with the width of the power band in teh Cllio's transmission and was beginning to like it, then we got to the village and I fell in love. Our house was on Rue Cornille at the very top of the village, and we had to fold the mirrors flat against the car to make it. Without the little car we would have had to hike the hill each time we returned laden with groceries and, (internally) with the lovely wines of France.

Posted by
468 posts

I almost forgot about this story. On our last trip we rented a Renault. It had one of those automatic parking brakes and I guess we never really understood how it worked. One morning we were taking out the garbage and stopped at a dumpster that was on a terraced hill. We were getting the garbage out of the car when it started rolling down the hill. Without thinking, I ran and jumped into the passenger side, reflexively thinking that I would grab the hand brake, but there wasn't one! And I couldn't get it into gear because I was on the passenger side and couldn't get to the clutch. My husband couldn't get in and ended up being dragged down the road, somehow he got his hand on the clutch and got the car into gear and stopped. We stopped just short of the edge of the terraced hillside. It wouldn't have been a long drop but I wasn't wearing a seatbelt and my husband was being dragged beside the car. It really scared us and we could easily have been hurt or worse. We laugh now, but..

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2779 posts

As you may have heard Europeans get their drivers licenses at age 18 (so we first learn what alcohol does to us and 2 years later we're allowed to drive). I got my license in early June of 1992 and four weeks later I took my Mom's 13 years old VW Golf (only extra was a radio and roof that could manually open). I went to a family in the Auvergne region of France for a 4 weeks language stay and then picked up a German friend at Montelimar's train station in order to drive down to Cannes to visit another friend whose parents had a house down there. From there the logical and cheaper way to drive back to Germany is via Italy and Switzerland, which we did over night. We left the French riviera after dinner and drove and drove and drove - my friend back then was just 2 months short of being 18 so I had to do all the driving. Finally we made it to the Southern entrance to St. Gotthard's tunnel (10 miles long). At that time we'd been the only car on the freeway for miles. All the lights...

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2779 posts

...were on "green" so we entered it and I was driving it at the demanded speed. We still were pretty much the only car in that long long long tunnel which was a bit freaky. All of a sudden the traffic lights that are mounted to the tunnel's side walls about every 100 yards, that seemd to have been shut down before, started to blink "yellow". I slowed down a little and then the traffic lights turnd red and there was no more blinking. Somewhat confused I stopped the car. Still we were the only car in the middle of a tunnel with some 5 miles in front and behind us and we weren't moving anymore. Then suddenly I heard a roaring noise. A Ferrari approached us with at least 160 mph, passed our little car in this narrow single tube tunnel and was gone. Seconds later 3 Swiss police cars with their sirens turned on (in a tunnel!) passed us. They seemd to be following the Ferrari. Around 30-45 secs later we heard a huge crashing noise. When the traffic lights turned green again around 15mins...

Posted by
2779 posts

...later we eventually made it to the spot where that crashing noise came from. In a curve in the tunnel the Ferrari obviously crashed against the wall and spinned around. The policemen waived us by the crash scene. The good thing is: At age 18 you don't realize what could have happened to you had things gone differently... The Ferrari could have crashed into our tiny little standing car...

Posted by
3313 posts

We rented a Renault in Versailles and after visiting Chartres headed south with no particular place to go. On the road to Amboise we noticed a red light on the dash. Unable to decipher the sign label, we consulted the manual in the glove compartment. No indication what the light meant. As best as we could tell, we needed to pull the car over and seek help.

So we first stopped at a roadside rest area but couldn't find a way to call for help. So we went on a ways further and found a Renault dealership outside of Vendome. With little French, my wife asked for help and they quickly opened the hood and explored the engine, asking me if the light was still on. It was.

Until I looked down and released the emergency brake. The light went off.

Posted by
95 posts

I drove from London to Bath (not bad) and then on what looked like a tiny country road from Bath to Poole where my sister was at University. Turns out the tiny roads were the major thoroughfare for that route, complete with lorries at high speed. The two (of many) most memorable near misses was a caravan coming down a hill with no brakes, tooting and scattering cars onto the shoulder, and a pass through a narrow village with a woman walking 5 or 6 little yippy dogs on the 18 inch sidewalk and a full-sized lorry going 50 on the other lane. When I got to Poole the only thing open was a dog track where I took my two small children and cried into the arms of a huge older woman who looked like Hyacinth (complete with pink hair) and a Scottish security guard who came up to my shoulder and kept saying "It'll be alright lass". They then got a drunk from the track to take me on to the university in my car. It remains one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

Posted by
277 posts

After more than 20 years of going to Europe, often driving, the stories are numerous. When I was 10 years old my parents took my two brothers and I to the UK for two weeks. As we walked along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, heading for John Knox's house (being raised "you are a Presbyterian from womb to tomb) a car backed up abruptly, and nearly knocked my father over. The minister at our church in California was not known for his driving skills, members knew to give him a wide berth. As my Dad regained his footing, he said to my mother, "you would think Orville (our minister) was here!" The driver, realizing what he had done, jumped out of the car apologizing. To our surprise, standing there was our minister, who apparently couldn't drive on either side of the road, or the pond.

10 years later I was again in Scotland. This time staying with two elderly aunts. The one that drove had had a stroke, partially paralyzing her left side. I was sure I was going to meet my death Contd

Posted by
277 posts

as this little stick shift car, with the partially paralyzed driver, carreened down a narrow road between villages. I was in the back seat, which had no seat belts, holding on for dear life to the handles on both doors, as the left side of the car pruned the leaves off of the hedge row while a lorry came toward us on the right. I was two young to die this way, but my aunts were determined to get home in time to find out what happened to poor Bobby. Yes, I was going to die in this little car because they couldn't bear to miss even one second of "Dallas."

A few days later, I took a night train to London, arriving about 6:00 on a Sunday morning. The morning after the Live Aide concert. People were sleeping on every square inch of the floor in the station, and the tube wasn't running yet. So, I set about walking from Euston to Charing Cross station. It was a beautiful walk when suddenly two taxis collided, T-Boned, right in front of me. All I could think was, I am not cont'd.

Posted by
277 posts

going to get detained as a witness to testify about what I witnessed--I have 6 weeks on the continent starting that afternoon. So I walked to Charing Cross as fast as I could. I don't know how the courts work over there in these kind of cases. But at 20 years old, I did not have an interest in a British Civics lesson.

A week later, I was in Avignon with a friend from Norway when I got a lesson in parallel parking. One small car, drive the front end in first, right front wheel to the curb and the bumper inches from the car in front of you. Don't worry about the back end hanging out into the street. Doors open, five guys jump out, quickly move to the rear bumper, one, two, three, lift, and move the back end over so the car is parallel to the curb. Done, and no wasted space between cars for manuevering.

Then there was the summer of 1990, the first summer after the Berlin Wall came down, and the East German guys going wherever they could in their Trabis. The site of them Cont'd

Posted by
277 posts

pushing this piece of junk up a hill because it lacked the power to do it on its own with five guys in it. And, the jokes about it.

A Trabi Sport model came with running shoes in the glove box.

Trabis had dual exhaust so that you could push it like a wheelbarrow when it broke down.

But, the scariest experience on the roads of Europe. A front tire blow out as I sped down the Fluela Pass between Davos and St Moritz on a bicycle, in front of a big dump truck.

Kent--Thanks for rejuvenating this question, and allowing me to share these great memories.

Kevin

Posted by
269 posts

Thanks Kent! I've enjoyed all the posts. 3 stories have I. I took my first trip to Germany at the age of 24 to go to the Frankfurt Auto Show. I was eager to rent a car and drive the famous Autobahn to see if I could play with the big boys. I eneded up with a VW Polo that had a top speed of about 100, not what I wanted, but I was in Germany and I was happy! While driving through a mountainous area with twisting roads I was passed by a much older woman in the exact same car. Not to be outdone, I picked up the pace, only to become uncomfortable with the speed at which she was traveling. I slowed down and suffered through the blow to my ego.
My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Germany driving around in an E class MB. How nice I thought to have such a fine car. That was my first lesson in never renting such a LARGE car. We had gone to the top of a mountain to see a WWII monument. The drive up for me was fun. Switchbacks and tight turns made me feel like Mario Andretti or Hans Stuck.....

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269 posts

When leaving we went down a different route. A much more narrow route. The kind of route that does not have gaurdrails or shoulders or even those spindley little cables that couldn't stop a Trabant. Now, my wife does not like to be on the cliff side of a vehicle, even less so when on a road such as this. As we make our way down this narrow winding road without any protection we encounter a couple walking along the edge. No problem. I moved left to give them some space. At that very moment a tour bus was coming around a blind left hand turn towards us! I have never seen a person jump so high while strapped in with a seat belt! The bus driver and I both stopped, the couple that was walking along the edge of the road laughed at my wife becuase they could see her too. After a few seconds the bus driver smiled and waved us by as we crept ever so close to the edge. My wife regained her composure and I took it a little easier coming down the Mountain. Story 3 to follow shortly

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269 posts
  1. My wife had navigated our 2 previous trips to Germany in fine fashion. This last Thanksgiving we took our 16 year old daughter with us for the first time and decided to get a GPS unit with our rental. For the first few days all went well, the GPS directed us to where we needed to go. One evening as we headed back to Munich from southern Bavaria we encountered our first problem. We were on the back roads and the GPS took us through the roundabouts we came upon easily. The last one we came upon was to take us to an entrance to the Autobahn. The exit we were to take was closed off by barricades. Thinking we were at the wrong one I circled the roundabout again. Yes it was still barricaded. The next road off the roundabout took us parallel to the Autobahn, to a dead end! He we are, in the dark with a map we could'nt use, no compass in the car, and a road we cannot get to. Oh, and a 16 year old telling were to go. The same 16 year old who was newly licensed and never been to Germany B4...
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269 posts

The beauty of driving without a set schedule or no particular place to be, well except a comfortable bed to sleep in that evening, we just picked a different road off the roundabout and continued on our merry way. When using a GPS you learn to ignore their directions for a while until you get far enough away from the area of confusion and let it reroute itself. This is what we did and we returned to our hotel in Munich without further delay. Even the 16 year old was pleased with the outcome.