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Driving when you don't speak the language

Driving when you don't speak the language

Old Feb 28th, 2005, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
LOL vedette, do you think it is impossible to drive in Europe without mumbling to yourself the entire time?
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Feb 28th, 2005, 02:56 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 474
Well, Love, I am sure that somebody can do it, but not me! I tend to go back and forth between mumbling and muttering sweet nothings to my navigator such as "are you really sure this is the right road?"
vedette is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2005, 04:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 62
I speak some Italian, no French and absolutely no German. Some might say my English is flawed, as well. But I don't worry about driving in countries where I don't know the language anymore. As the others have said, the road signs are relatively universal across the borders. After all, not all French speak German, English and Italian. And they get around OK.

But I share cooltones57 pain regarding the toll booths on the Italian Autostrada. I learned a few new driving words from the helpful gents behind me while I was deciphering how the blasted thing worked.

Seriously, I suggest pre-planning your trips into unfamiliar territoty with a European version of Mapquest, like There are several others, but this is the url I usually remember easiest. I'm sure the other readers can identify their favorite service for you. These give you point-by-point directions right down to how many meters before you turn, and eliminate a lot of the guesswork. I have found them reasonably accurate, with only one bad experience where I had to rely on a large map and dead reckoning. (Moral: Always have a plan B. Maps are cheaper than aggravation.)

One of the hardest things for me to adapt to was the concept of traffic circles rather than intersections with traffic lights. Now I enjoy them, much to the displeasure my much saner and better half.

Enjoy your trip.
shutterbug is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2005, 06:53 PM
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Oh vedette and shutterbug - I just saw your post. You are both too funny!

I don't think anyone can really say they have "lived" unless they have driven a rental car in Europe without really speaking the language of the country they are driving in.

And vandette, oh I sure do know about those "sweet nothings" to the navigator. The navigator was always me.
Well, enough said, right? LOL.

After one finally gets to the hotel they want, checks in, freshens up, goes out and finds a wonderful cafe that has outdoor seating, orders some wine, receives the wine, drinks a glass of the wine; well then all is well with the world right?

And shutterbug, it wasn't on an autostrada, but in the middle of Rome when my DH put his arm out of the side window of the drivers side of the car and screamed at the Roman in the car left of us, and the Roman held up both hands as to say "scuzi, I surrender", did I know that DH could handle driving even in all the cities of Italy. Too funny, sigh!
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2005, 10:57 AM
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Thank you to all who replied, I laughed, took notes, and feel much better about driving now!
melstravel is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2005, 11:01 AM
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I would highly recommend learning the phrase for "one-way street" in the language of any country you'll be visiting.
StCirq is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2005, 11:25 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,087
"I worry about driving in Germany"

Driving in Germany is a snap unless you find yourself in Saarbrucken, a place I equate with the Bermuda Triangle. If you end up there, be very afraid.
maitaitom is offline  
Old Feb 14th, 2011, 02:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi mel,

You have to learn the international icons.

After that, get in the right hand lane and stick to the speed limit.

You won't go fast, but you won't get hurt.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Old Feb 14th, 2011, 03:24 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
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I hope mel had a fun and safe trip as he started this thread back in 2005. But I often don't notice the date as to when a thread has been first posted.
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Feb 14th, 2011, 08:34 PM
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Hi LI - six year old thread, but did you notice maitaitom's comment. Funny as always! Hope he's still doing well.
Giovanna is offline  
Old Feb 15th, 2011, 10:36 AM
Join Date: May 2009
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Occasionally there will be signs in the country's language only--unfortunately it does seem to happen at spots where a highway splits off in different directions, and there will be a big sign with arrows pointing in various directions and several lines of French or Greek or whatever. I usually solve it by going right--if it turns out that right was wrong, eventually I'll see some sort of landmark or route marker that gets me in the proper direction again. By and large, however, just learn the most important international traffic signs and you'll be fine.
Paul1950 is offline  
Old Feb 15th, 2011, 10:56 AM
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Doesn't anybody read the previous posts, at least one or two? As noted this post in six years old and we all hope Mel had a wonderful trip and had no problems driving in a country where he didn't speak the language. LOL
Giovanna is offline  
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