I was born to drive on the left side of the road!
I am getting it. After a couple of days, I am no longer having to chant ‘left, left, left’. I am reading the road signs better … I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t remember many of them that first day. Thankfully, many of their signs are more European than American, which means they are familiar to Sara (who lived in Germany). She quickly became the designated navigator.
Motorways are interstates and they have a set speed limit of 120kph or about 70mph. They have wide lanes, but don’t forget …. Left, left, left. The slow lane is on the left and you exit on the left. As of yesterday, we have the BWM going 120kph in sixth gear. Yep, six gears. There is nothing like putting that car into that last gear and really cruising … Okay, except if it was on the autobahn without a speed limit.
The ‘N’ highways or national highways are equivalent to our US highways. They (mostly) have wide shoulders and run at 100kph or 62mph. We can get the car up to that speed and we even had someone pull out over to get out of our way … Conquered.
The ‘R’ highways … Well, they are often posted at 80kph. They are nuts! I can get there if we are on a straightaway … But usually these roads are winding, no shoulders and often, what looks to be weeds along the road is actually an inch of weeds that camouflages the stone wall. Originally, Sara referred to her side of the car as the ‘death seat’ since I would get a bit close.
What is the big deal? Well, take a county road … remove any hint of a shoulder and drop it to one and a half lanes. Add stone walls (for miles), often hidden by a thin veil of weeds, flowers, etc, then put two cars on that road and they meet. Let’s just say we often have only a few inches between mirrors and that is when you are hugging the wall. We call the passenger seat, if the window is open, the Queen Ann’s Lace ‘whipping chair.’ You can literally hear the weeds slapping the side of the car as we drive by … All at 50 miles an hour! Add the occasional truck coming at you … I haven’t pee’ed my pants … yet.
Actually, I am having a great time with the challenge, regardless of the gasps, ‘oh crap’, etc., coming from Sara.
In town … There are some roads that are only one lane for two way traffic. We have found that the local Irish are great at pulling, stopping and letting you through. It is common … So we now pull over, stop and take turns on those one lane streets, too!
Finally, roundabouts are EVERYWHERE. If you miss a turn, just keep going around…. I don’t really like the ‘imaginary’ roundabouts. These are the ones where they have painted a circle in a crossroads area. They are the ones that take some getting used to and the was the culprit of my first, slam-on-the-brakes-before-you-hit-the-other-car incident. No contact, but was close enough to notice that he was quite handsome! He simply stopped, smiled and sped off!
One last thing … We found a seventh lever on the driver’s seat!