Thursday, December 19, 2013

Euro-Trip Day 2 - Midget Hot Rods

Disclaimer: I'm not talking about little people driving cars, I'm talking a very small cars that drive really, really fast.

Ok, so imagine you're driving around your nice suburban neighborhood.  Everyone is driving fairly politely, they obey the traffic laws and move in a fairly predictable manner.  Then you suddenly find yourself magically transported into a miniature bumper-car race, all the other drivers are monkeys that were properly trained and then dosed with high levels of cocaine and promised a crate of bananas if they could beat you to the next light.  That's what driving in Europe is like.

I got out of the airport, downtown, and had to survive 10 kilometers (there are no miles in Europe, they were all exported to the United States) to my hotel just outside of town.  That might have been the scariest hour of my entire life.  Under normal circumstances 10 kilometers would be something like 10-15 minutes of driving.  But here, apparently once you hit fourteen years old they give you a mini cooper, a gallon of wine, and put you on the road.  It's so beautiful to watch the fledglings take flight.  It was like being a salmon in a packed river, trying to make your way against the flow to turn down a specific tributary... it's not going to fucking happen.  You get pushed along with the flow unless you want to start bumping cars out of your way.  So you go with the flow and hope that eventually it ends up where you're going, if not you're shit out of luck.

If I wasn't an extremely defensive driver, and really good with a stick shift, I would not be here now.  I'm sure I would be in a full body cast trying to hit on some European nurses in the local hospital.  My limbs might be broken by my dick still works.  Hopefully my dick would still work.  Then I'd panic and be asking the nurses to turn the page on my Greek to English dictionary and trying to look up the phrase "poke my schlong and see if it still gets bigger".  Not the way I want to spend my time in Europe.

Culture shock, not a problem, I've been here before.  Driving culture shock, fuck yeah.  The last few times I was here I either didn't have a car or didn't do the driving, when you're behind the wheel this place is a fucking nut house.  Seriously, I think I almost died about five times in the first five minutes.  There are no traffic laws, merely suggestions that most drivers have chosen to ignore.  There are lines in the road, but these are carefully ignored when they don't serve the drivers purpose.  Yield signs, totally ignored.  Stop signs, almost totally ignored (you don't stop, just slow a little... to about 50kph or so).

In my days here, I have seen exactly two police cars during my many hours on the roads.  I've finally figured out why, they're fucking scared to drive and I can empathize.

Crash helmets and four-point seat belts should be a requirement here.  Or at least there should be some sort of trophy waiting in your hotel room at the end of every drive, "Participant".

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