Of European Cars, Roundabouts, and Parking Garages

It’s such an adventure driving in a foreign country. 

No, I wasn’t on the wheel, thank goodness! We drove to Lourdes, France from Peñiscola, Spain. Then back to Spain from France. In Spain, we drove to Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia. My sister-in-law’s husband was on the wheel while my husband was the navigator. The drive was fun, but not without challenges.

The three major challenges for my brother-in-law who is brave enough to take on the responsibility of driving, is first figuring out the mechanisms of the van we rented as it is designed differently from vehicles marketed in the United States. 

Our van, rented from Budget. It comfortably accommodated 7 people and our luggage

The good thing is, it’s automatic. It seems like Europeans take automatic seriously. When we stopped at our very first toll booth, the engine stopped running which was an “uh-oh” moment. Who wants to be stuck in an automated toll booth with cars behind them? 

He stepped on the gas and the car revved up. Oh. While idling, when the driver takes his foot off the brake, the engine “rests”, when he steps on the gas, the engine “wakes up”. Whew! Very cool feature. My car is automatic and it doesn’t do that!
Second, are the roundabouts, or rotunda in Spanish. I haven’t seen so many roundabouts in my life! My husband and I had experienced the roundabouts in England, but I feel like there are more to deal with in Spain and France!

The third challenge which almost gave all the females on this trip a heart attack are the parking garages. For us, who are used to the parking garages in the United States, the garages looked very narrow. It took skill to navigate them without damaging our rented car. We were either exclaiming in fear or being back seat drivers. We drove my sister-in-law’s husband crazy! I had to close my eyes multiple times in an attempt to keep from cringing when the car gets too close to walls and pillars in tight corners.


Believe me, it was a tight fit!
We successfully completed our trip without mishaps. The van was returned without any damage. We all enjoyed the drive to France and Spain. It was just a matter of getting used to the differences in driving in the US and the two countries we visited. That said, I’m leaving the driving to my brother-in-law and my husband. 😉


4 thoughts on “Of European Cars, Roundabouts, and Parking Garages

  1. Interesting story! I can`t agree more that it is really tough to drive in another country where you don`t know the local rules, behaviour of other drivers etc. I made it just one with a car, but it was a country in the neighbourhood. I really like to travel but I prefer when someone is driving me) Welcome to check my travels and photography on my blog)

    Liked by 1 person

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