Suddenly Zurich:

Jan 20th, 2010, 08:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 233
Suddenly Zurich:

I have unexpectedly found myself with a trip to Zurich next Sunday. Not exactly for pleasure -I am accompanying somebody for medical reasons and to translate for them and to drive.
I have never been there and never driven in Europe.

We are staying in a very centrally located hotel and the second day there have a trip north to a medical institute.

Fact- I am a little nervous about driving from the airport to town , any last minute advice for me- I know at red lights I must turn off the car motor and to adhere strictly to speed limits.. ant other advice ??

(I know its cold and I need warm clothing.)
yasronit is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 03:18 PM
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" red lights I must turn off the car motor .."
- seriously? I've never heard of this (but I'm not an experienced European driver, either)
Travelnut is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 03:24 PM
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I look for these kind of sites (and also road signs) for driving (looked up France in the past, so here is Switzerland)
Travelnut is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 03:47 PM
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I have no idea where the idea of turning your car motor off at red lights came from, but that is definitely not necessary!

The main "specialty" when driving in Europe is that at unmarked intersections (i.e. where there is no stop or yield sign), cars coming from the right have the right of way.

Other difference: in a "blue zone" (parking space lines are painted in blue), you can only park for up to 90 minutes between 8:00 and 20:00 Monday through Saturday. Your rental car should have a blue cardboard or plastic contraption with a disc that you can turn to show your arrival time, either in the glove compartment or in another storage compartment - set it correctly and place it behind the winshield. Parking in the center of Zurich is quite difficult to find and expensive, I hope that your hotel has a garage.

3rd important point: trams have the right of way. Always. So watch out whenever you cross tracks, whether driving or as a pedestrian.

4th important point: in Switzerland, directional signs come in 3 colors: green for motorways, blue for main highways and white for secondary roads. This varies by country, so watch out if headed to Germany or France, where motorway signs are blue.

5th important point: standard speed limits are 120kmh on motorways, 80 kmh outside of built-up areas and 50 kmh within built-up areas. Obviously, if lower speed limits are posted, the latter apply.

That's about it for the major stuff. There are speed and red light cameras all over the place and meter maids patrol mercilessly, so behave - this is Switzerland after all ;-)

This link has some more advice:

Hope all goes well with your companion's medical issues, and that the driving is painless.

Andre is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 03:49 PM
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Oh yes: if you're given a diesel rental car, be careful not to fill it with normal gasoline!
Andre is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 04:45 PM
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The main thing to know renting a car in europe is that there are a LOT of rules about parking in city centers - and they vary tremendously. Also, that parking on the street is very difficult. So, contact your hotel to find out if it is any sort of special parking zone, if it has parking (and reserve a space) or ask where to park the car most efficiently.

Also, using the left lane for passing only is taken very seriously - you can;t simply get in the left lane and sit there - not only a lot of angry drivers but possibly a ticket.

Turning the car off at red lights is obviously ridiculous - close to madness. No one would ever get anywhere if each car had to turn the engine back on and then put it into gear before being able to drive away - and they would have a lot of angry people behind them.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 05:33 PM
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I was recently in Switzerland for two weeks, just outside of St. Gallen (also at a health clinic). Although I did not drive, I was very impressed with the signage along the roads and at intersections.Directions were very easy to follow because of this. Is it possible for you to take trains instead? Perhaps just into Zurich and then pick up the car the next day so you don't have to worry about driving in the city?
travellingmom3 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 06:29 PM
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Switzerland, I've found, is one of the easiest and most pleasant countries in which to drive. Do read up on what the signs mean and for sure on the motorways or highways, if there are two lanes going in one direction, drive in the right lane, pass in the left. As nytraveler said, this is the one thing in Europe that drives Europeans nuts about Americans. Like on escalators -- the custom is stand to the rght, pass on the left.

And do mind the law re: speeding and parking time limits. The Swiss can be very rigid about these issues and tickets are NOT cheap!
Surfergirl is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 06:21 AM
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Thankyou for your replies - i think it will be okay- This time next week I will already be back home.
yasronit is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 01:26 PM
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Back from Zurich- enjoyed- a beautiful city and it snowed alot.
Driving - someone met us at the airport and drove in front to guide me to the hotel. I dont think I could have done it alone at night. Driving back to the airport was a breeze in daylight.

Once again a thanks for your help and I will definitely go back to see more.
yasronit is offline  
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