This is a tip for novice travellers based on our recent European road trip. When you look at a road atlas to plan your route, and you see a coast road that looks like it will be much more scenic than the more inland highway, do some further research before you decide to take it. As we discovered in Europe, many such roads offer you barely a glimpse of the coast, certainly not enough to warrant taking a slower road. Sometimes because of trees (but not often), other times because of how built up an area is (more often), and sometimes because of tunnels (most often).
Lets talk about tunnels for a moment. They are hateful. You can literally drive for hours with only fleeting glances of daylight as you exit one tunnel and enter the next. No views. And they are really long and dark sometimes. And crazy busy. Especially in Italy. Drivers in Italy are aggressive and fast, and that’s hard to get used to when you come from a small rural community in Canada, but combine that with a tunnel, and it can be a little frightening.
On the other hand, I guess the alternative to these tunnels would be aggressive, fast Italian drivers on winding mountain roads. That’s a little hairy as well. And in less cosmopolitan areas where there are still little mountain roads, the scenery can be stunning, but if you have my head for heights, you rarely appreciate it as you grip the car door handles and look the other way, hoping your husband doesn’t drive off the edge while he is marveling over that same stunning scenery.
I sound like I’m whining. My point here, though, is about expectations. I expected, for example, to drive from Genova to Cinque Terre on a scenic coast road, and instead we whizzed there through a series of tunnels. And when we actually got off the tunnel route into the part with the scenic coast road, the road was very different than I expected it to be. For example, I expected that it would be wide enough for two vehicles. And I expected there to be the odd guard rail on sections where there was a 500 foot drop if you happened to swerve off the road to avoid an oncoming vehicle or something.
Basically, what it all boils down to is this. I did not know how to read a road map. For example, I did not realize that a wiggly road on a map meant you would probably be meandering up, over, around, and through mountains. Or that a coast road was not necessarily a coast road. And my expectations were off. Purely because of my own naivety. In fact, my expectations of roads were based mostly on Atlantic Canadian roads (straight) and British motorways (also straight). And having never spent any time in mountainous regions, I didn’t realize….well, I didn’t realize lots of things. And let me make it clear that these are my observations only – not necessarily those of the rest of my family. Or any other normal people.
You know, what I really could have used on this trip is one of those great big plastic relief maps with all the mountains in 3D. You know the ones you could practically climb into. Like Joey on Friends when he visits London. That would have made things a lot easier!
Posts Tagged With: travel by car
Not that much fun.
Our new van is fantastic, but I don’t actually want to drive it. I’d far rather go with the whole Driving Miss Daisy thing and just let Dev chauffeur me around.
Here are my problems:
Firstly, the roads are very narrow and they are usually lined with cars, sometimes on both sides. This is because people don’t have driveways. And this is because most of the houses are of the pre-car era. And because there are a lot of terrace houses, there is really no room in between for driveways. It makes you realize how young Canada is in comparison. With big giant roads that are, relatively speaking, ridiculously easy to navigate (on PEI at least). We are spoiled, and that, evidently, has made me incompetent.
OK, so before anyone condemns me for not wanting to drive just because the roads are narrow, let’s talk about the motorways – eight lanes of traffic whizzing along, dodging with surprising dexterity from lane to lane. This is scary for the PEI driver, and I think I can safely speak for most of them when I say that. Too fast, too busy, and too terrifying.
Then, to add to that, theres the fact that we drive on the other side of the road. The right side is now the wrong side, and the left side is the right side. Who wouldn’t be confused by that??
And the kicker? Our new van is NOT an automatic, and I haven’t driven a standard in at least 15 years. AND, the gears are on the left, which is where my door usually is. The one I use to escape from the scary automobile.
Now, before anyone goes away thinking I’m completely pathetic, I did drive it today. It was brief, but I did it. I reversed. I did a hill start. I turned corners onto the correct side of the road. I did not hit any cars or any pedestrians. All in all, I think it was a huge success.
My point is, I don’t WANT to do it.
But I will.
If I absolutely have to.