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  • Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Traveling Europe By Car

    Some things about traveling by car are different in Europe. The first difference is that it is much more expensive. Not only are gas prices higher (double to triple the expense), but whenever you go on a major highway you have to pay tolls. For a 4 hour trip to France, the toll road in Spain was about $10, and the toll road in France was about $15 dollars. It was even more expensive when we came back through Andorra where we had to go through 2 tunnels, one $7 and the other $12. The good thing about the tunnels is that they are long, so at least you feel like you get your moneys worth. My kids play a game where, if they can hold their breath all the way through a tunnel, they believe one of their wishes will come true. My kids were not even close to getting any wishes.

    Another difference when driving in Spain and France is that you don't see any police. I have yet to see anyone stopped for speeding. The roads in Spain have a limit of 120 km/hr and the roads in France are 130 km/hr in good weather, and 110 km/hr in rain or fog. The fast lane was moving at about 150 km/hr. I'm told that there are some cameras that will send you a ticket, but there are a lot of people who just zip along. People are very good about staying to the right unless they are passing and I have not seen any accidents on the highways.

    One thing odd about Spanish highways is that the exits are often different depending on what direction you are going. If you miss an exit and go to the next one to turn around, you seem to only have about a 50% chance of getting back on the highway. This is just one of the many times when having a GPS unit in the car is great. Especially in France, where you really don't want to be asking for directions, having the GPS meant that we had a lot more time at our destinations instead of circling around lost.

    One last point of interest is that there is a surprising amount of English music being played on the radio. This is not only true when driving around, but also in the shops and restaurants. There may not be that many people that speak English in Sant Cugat, but there are a lot of people who know the words to Bon Jovi's, “Have a Nice Day”. I think I have heard it at least 30 times while driving around the town. It was also the first song we heard when we got to France (though I think it was a Spanish station). Spanish people like Bon Jovi.


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