Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Driving in Maastricht

is terrifying.

I have been driving for ... uhh...never mind how long, just since I was 16, and I have never been that scared driving. Well, maybe when the roads were covered in snow and it was dark, but never in broad daylight in perfect weather!

I had my first driving lesson on Monday. My American license does not transfer here, so I have to do as all Dutch people do, and take lessons. Since I have to take the lessons anyways, I decided it's time I learned how to drive a stick shift. Besides, the car we own is a stick, so if I want to drive, I'd better learn how to drive THAT, right?

The shifting part wasn't really the most terrifying part. It was all of it put together. The Dutch drive much more aggressively than Americans do. Rarely slowing down for anything, and squeezing between the tightest of places to make sure they get from A to B in the fastest time possible. Plus, we don't have a lot of people on bikes/mopeds in America. That's another thing you have to watch out for here. And there are people EVERywhere.  And the roads are very narrow. And the trucks (buses too) are very wide.

"More gas..."

"Not so fast with the clutch..."

"Slow down..."

"Into 3rd..."   "Don't look at the gear stick!"


"Look both ways..."

"Slow down, but don't stop..."

"Never take the inside of the wheel."
Meaning, if you're making a turn, don't flip your hand over and hold onto the inside of the wheel with your hand upside down to make the turn. Think about it. You know you do it. What's wrong with it? I have no idea.

All of it added up to a very stressful hour's worth of driving lesson. I am already having panic attacks about the next lesson in a week.

I wonder if it's worth it?

Yeah, it probably is.

I wonder if they have a package that includes valium as an after-lesson aperitif?


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