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Posts Tagged ‘driving’

Let’s start with the obligatory apology for our missing Toes. Then let’s follow it up by these words: seven days of Spain; one international move; 5,000 miles; 9-hour time zone change; hello California.

In just three short days (or three very long days, depending on what ungodly hour our extremely screwed up circadian rhythms have woken us at), we’ve experienced more culture shock than so-called “foreign” Switzerland offered us in an entire week.

In one hand, we delight at things like fantastic customer service (I’m pretty sure there’s no Swiss translation for this because well, it just doesn’t seem to exist) and the amazing produce and health food that rings in cheaper than the no-name foods in CH. And hey, the same mascara that cost me $17 in Basel cost me a whopping $2.50 yesterday in Target. But then we drive down the six-lane concrete jungle (otherwise known as the 101) and I feel a little sick to my stomach. I think “what have we done!?!” and I want to fly right back to my European life of trams, trains and pedestrian districts. We stop in for a muffin and tea at a local cafe (one of the few non-franchised we could find) and laugh to each other at the sheer monstrosity that is an American bagel (I think it had the circumference of a Frisbee). We grimaced at the sight of a man zipping by us, paper coffee cup in hand, talking on his Bluetooth ear piece. We realized that in our entire year of living in Europe, we never once saw a Bluetooth ear piece. And the only people toting “to go” coffee were tourists. Because Europeans know how to stop for a few minutes to have a coffee and make a phone call. Possibly not even at the same time! {gasp!}

But I digress. The point of this post was to giggle at the fact that I’m feeling 16 again as I study for my Learner’s permit to drive a car in California. My BC license expired while in Switzerland and when your out-of-country license expires here, you have to go through the testing process to be licensed in CA. This should be fun! (not).

We all woke up at 2:30am this morning (hey body clock, you fail) and so I figured it would be a good idea to study for the written test I’m taking today. I’ve driven for 15 years and have two classes of license (regular + motorcycle) but I’m still nervous about passing the stupid thing. Unfortunately, they like to put questions about ridiculous one-off scenarios that have a 1:549130819574 chance of happening just to put you in your place. For a 16-year-old who thinks they know everything, this isn’t such a bad thing. For a non-resident soccer mom who just wants to drive her kids around in the minivan, this is a major inconvenience.

But as I read through the manual, I caught myself saying “wow, good thing I read that!” and perhaps it hasn’t been a complete waste of time. For instance, this little excerpt from the U-Turn section:

ILLEGAL U-TURNS
Never make a U-turn:
• At or on a railroad crossing.
• Where a “No U-Turn” sign is posted.
• When other vehicles may hit you.
• On a one-way street.

Wow, thank you Department of Motor Vehicles California.  That could have been embarrassing.

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I’ve been here for nearly a year and today I saw, for the first time ever, a female motorcycle rider.  So she does exist in Europe! And because I would never dream of trying to ride a bike on these foreign roads (yes, it’s the same side of the street but seriously, everything else is completely arse-backward here), I’ll have to just post this photo as a tribute to my beloved, whom I sold nearly one year ago. Sadly, it still stings the same as it did the day I handed over the keys.

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