2017.06 France Spain Portugal Italy
In June 2017 I went to Portugal and back by motorbike. In 4 weeks I covered 8,500 km. I admit, that it was way too much. Unlike e.g. in South America, where there are long distances between towns and villages, Europe is much more dense and crowded and there is so much culture to see and so many beautiful places where you want to spend time. 3 months would not have been enough.
Following is a loose collection of impressions, encounters and experiences that I made on the road during this month, like getting stuck in snow, or that couple in Seville, with affinity for the Third Reich.
I went to Feldkirch, Vorarlberg with the night-car-train (or whatever it is called in English) and then, on the first day throug Lichtenstein and Switzerland, passing Lake Maggiore, to Turin. In Turin I was a bit overstrained with the traffic. Therefore, a few words about the traffic in each country.
You do not have to go to Central or South America to experience insane traffic. You just need to visit a city in Italy.
A red traffic light is seen as red after 2 to 3 seconds.
Quickly turning right from the second lane without using the indicator? No problem!
Because: indicators? Who needs indicators?
Two lines? Three cars will fit as well!
And solid lines are crossed constantly.
One month later, on my way back, when I was in Italy again, I completely adapted to the local driving style. I’ve broken the traffic rules 100 times .. in 10 minutes .. like everyone else. The police does not care.
As my motorcycle with the boxes is a lot wider than a scooter, I was just scared that someone would rip off the boxes, when I was going between all the cars on the middle of the street.
A problem is, I apply this style of driving increasingly at home in Austria.
Back home I happened to read a study on the news about the number of fatalities in road traffic in European capitals. Rome was at the top .. it did not surprise me.
In France you have to be careful on the countryside. From time to time there are stationary radar boxes between the villages. These are not huge grey boxes, like in Austria, which you can see from afar. In France, they are not wider than a sheet of paper and perhaps 1m high. They easily can be hidden behind a bush or a tree. Otherwise, I felt the French are civilized stress-free drivers.
In Spain, drivers stop at stop signs, at intersections, on the countryside, for 2 to 5 seconds, when you can see 300m and no car is coming. Nobody is doing that in Austria. I had to break hard more than once. I was told that traffic is sometimes monitored from the air. I have no idea how high the penalties are and I hope that nothing will end up in my mailbox in the next few weeks. (Update: meanwhile more than 7 months have passed and there was nothing in my mailbox.)
There are a lot of Scooters used in the larger cities. Unlike e.g. in Austria, where divers in cars often try not to let you go through, the drivers in these countries make place, when a two-wheeler approaches from behind. I would like that people do that in Austria too. In some cities in Spain, e.g. in Seville, there is a strip only for motorcycles in front of traffic lights, which must be kept clear of cars during a red phase.
In Portugal the situation is quite similar to Spain.