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Chasing the dream in spain

The diary of two probably mad people wanting to live in Spain.

The joys of driving in Spain
28 May 2011 @ 21:48

The joy of the open road, driving on country roads, windows down, just drifting along and taking in the scenery. I should be so lucky! Just when I think I've got it all worked out, I come across something else that leaves me completely astonished. Being British, it seems it's going to take a while to learn to become a 'good' driver by Spanish standards. Car abandonment, or parking in English. Only a tourist would attempt to use a single parking bay, whereas a local person gets a nod of respect for taking up four spaces with a Fiat Panda, I'm not sure how many you need to use for a Volvo estate, I'll have to ask. The newly reduced speed limits, why did they bother? Only non residents take any notice of them anyway, unless there's a camera of course, despite what the Government says in the papers. The toll roads are a good example. Lots of people are speeding before they get off the slip road, and the tolls are like drag racing start lines, perhaps they need something more along the lines of the French toll system, although that too has some faults. Going shopping in a village. Why use that nice parking space twenty yards down the road from the shop you want to go to, when you could use that 'special' place for 'experienced' drivers right outside the shop. You can't miss them, they are painted red and white, and stretch right across the road (a pedestrian crossing in English). Parking here here is the marque of a really good driver, but an 'expert' driver would double parked here, or just leave the car in the middle of the road with the hazard lights on, not as a warning though, but to attract attention to what they have done so everyone can see how good they are! Pedestrian crossings have a special meaning to Spanish licence holders, more so if they have penalty points on their licence. I am not totally sure of he legal standing, but to the casual observer, it looks like you must get points taken off you licence if you manage to hit someone on a crossing. Maybe that's why the red paint, it might help keep the place looking tidy if a few people are having a 'successful' day ridding those licences of endorsements. The Spanish equivalent of the plastic pig, but this one has four wheels. They are about the size of a Smart car, but have a motorcycle engine. The licence requirements for these is minimal, being alive is the main one, but there has been a mention in the papers here that one might not actually be required at all! But you do have to respect people that drive one, it has the all the street credibility of wearing a shell suit. (Remember those, how many people still have one hidden in a wardrobe? You can't throw it out or take it to a charity shop in case someone you know sees you! A bit of a dilemma that one). You must need a very thick skin to put up with being overtaken by cyclists all the time. As for speeding, no chance, you'll have trouble doing 30kmh going downhill with the wind behind you. The one that takes the biscuit though, from personal experience, was on a roundabout, and nothing to do with a 'Rita' before you even think it! (There is another story here, involving one of Linda's weird curiosities and a black BMW, another time, maybe). This one should have been on YouTube, and would have been, if we both weren't too shocked to get a phone out to record it. The driver in question, who was Spanish, somehow managed to turn LEFT round a triangular traffic island leading onto the roundabout! It must of taken quite an effort to manage to do it. So there we were, stopped less than ten feet apart, facing each other on the roundabout. This person was obviously not an 'expert' driver, he didn't put his hazard lights on to let me know just how good he was. His wife, made the internationally understood gesture for sorry, please forgive my husband, he's an idiot, and then went back to tearing a seriously large strip off of him. So, one of us had to do something, and it was not going to be the other driver, he now having a 'major domestic', and losing badly by the look of it. It was a tight squeeze getting round him, you can't just bump up the curb here, they are huge, quite often in excess of eight inches, and we left them to it, still having a row and facing the wrong way on the roundabout. Seriously though, it can be a pleasurable experience once you get out of town, where it is total chaos. Driving along, past all those olive and orange groves, the fields of artichokes and other exotic things, has a remarkably relaxing effect, it's all so very laid back, and reminds us why we came here in the first place.

PS. Thanks for your comment Jacqui, glad my scribbles give enjoyment to someone. As we are not yet fully in the system here yet, there are not many bad memories from here, most are good! Eating with friends takes on a new meaning here, none of this you have got the table for an hour and a half rubbish. Though personally, I prefer to entertain at home, and now have a growing collection of those brown dishes, Tapas evenings are great. We have spent many a night chatting with friends till the small hours, nibbling on tasty morsels washed down with a glass of 'tinto', it does not get any better! Family have now excepted the move, one daughter has now claimed wardrobe space, she travels with hand luggage only. We just get a text, got a cheap flight, will be out tomorrow on fight such and such, come pick me up! More than a sight change of heart from the original tantrums when we said we were going. She now manages to 'pop round' at least once a month. The other daughter is out this weekend, complete with one point five children, leaving her husband to watch the football and fend for himself. So only one 'guest' free weekend this month. We see more of them now than when we were back home!

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