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Will I get lost driving in mainland Europe?

Will I get lost driving in mainland Europe?

Old Nov 10th, 2002, 02:07 PM
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Will I get lost driving in mainland Europe?

I will be going for the first time to Germany, Belgium and France for 3 weeks this xmas holiday. I am thinking of renting a car. WIll I get confused with the dtreet signs being in a different langauge? I have never driven outside the US.
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 02:10 PM
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The possibility of getting lost is there for sure.
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 02:14 PM
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Don't forget... they drive on the wrong side of the road all over Europe...
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 02:22 PM
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Of course crusty is wrong. In mainland Europe, they drive on the right side. I have driven all over Europe and have found it to be no big challenge as long as I study some of the key road signs ahead of time. Actually, I find the signage to be simpler in Europe than in the U.S. (except in some of the Italian towns, where they place 20 little narrow signs on one post)
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 02:31 PM
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It's quite possible to get lost even if you do speak the language. However, armed with good maps and/or a road atlas, knowledge of the international road signs and their meanings, plus an understanding of how each country's signage works, you should do fine. I agree with Wayne that it is often easier to navigate in Europe than in the USA because of the excellent signage.
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 02:33 PM
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Driving is the greatest way to see Europe when possible. Allows you to linger a little in cute towns (and there are many). You'll be driving on the "right" side of the road; just remember to stay in the right hand lane and use the left for passing only. I found the street signs more difficult in Germany because the names were so darn long so gave over the navigating to my pal and I did the driving. Sure, you will get lost but it's no big deal as long as you don't get excited. Just go to the next off-ramp and come back. Shoot, I get lost at home just day-dreaming! I failed to get a "sign" posting from the car rental place, so be sure to do that. At least then you know what all the signs mean (however, most are obvious). One thing I found nice about Europe (well, Germany anyhow) was they placed signs prior to towns telling you which town you were entering. I live in Southern California and we don't number our exits so I also liked that in Germany. Don't remember much about driving in France. Believe me, it's not scary.
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 03:00 PM
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Also take a small compass, it can sometimes come in handy. Regards, Walter
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 03:36 PM
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Yep you'll definitely get lost, John. Just don't take getting lost too seriously. It's part of the adventure. You'll eventually be found, and you may meet some interesting people along the way. Some of our funniest stories are about my husband's famous U-turns in Europe--we've made them everywhere.<BR><BR>Having said that, here are two good tips: Get a good map and buy it in the country you're visiting. By a good map, I mean one that shows every cowpath. Also be aware that (assuming here that you live in the US) Europeans rely very little on route numbers as we do here. Rather, the sign for the name of the next town will be posted, so you need to have some idea of the names of the towns along the route to your next destination.
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 05:26 PM
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Do you get lost when you drive in CA or CO?? If so, you will get lost in France or Italy. You need to be able to read a sign that says &quot; To Lyon&quot; or To Boulder&quot;. Frankly, I cannot tell the difference. There are good maps and good signage--just like in CA or CO.
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 08:54 PM
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There are all, or at least most of the international road signs and their meaning in your international drivers license (worth the ten bucks by them self.) <BR>
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 10:17 PM
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john,<BR><BR>I've driven around France and Belgium and when on highways, I have no problem. However, once I get into town, trying to find the hotel where I booked reservations is another story. <BR><BR>Also, stopping to ask, people are more than willing to give you directions. However, you don't always end up where you want to be. <BR><BR>It was still worth it to have a car. Good luck to you!<BR><BR>
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 10:53 PM
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Europe is normally SO easy to drive around in. You can practically get by just reading the directional/place signs that are regularly posted. For instance, living in Geneva, if I want to go to Grindelwald, the small mountain village about 3 hours away, I hop on the highway and follow the signs all the way there, even on the narrow, winding, final access road, and I NEVER have to pull out a map. The same applies if I go into France, Germany, Austria etc. Everything is posted to the hilt.<BR><BR>The only point where it may be confusing is within big cities, or when you're trying to find a very specific address, but, hey, try driving in New York City...<BR><BR>The only other adjustments you may need to anticipate is: people drive somewhat faster than the 55-65mph &quot;clunking&quot; pace in the US; and, roads and parking spaces are a bit narrower. We haven't had the wide-bodied car or SUV/van phenomenon, until recently...<BR><BR>
Old Nov 10th, 2002, 11:17 PM
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John, you might get confused with the signs being in another language but you'll get used to it. Do memorize your route (or write it down) before you start driving and pay attention to which major cities &amp; towns you will be following; often it is more important to follow signs for 'Brussel' and then 'Liege' (for example) than to know which highway number you want. Also, in Belgium most of the cities have different names in French and Flemish, so be aware of both if they are on your route.<BR>Always drive in the right lane on the highway unless passing, watch out for sudden slowdowns, and keep your cool when a black BMW zooms up two meters behind you and starts flashing his lights - it means he wants you to move into the right lane. Particularly in Germany, there are drivers who love to go 180 km and it's best to get out of their way!
Old Nov 11th, 2002, 01:22 AM
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Take care for the traffic lights! I remember my confusion when I was in the States. The lights were beyond the crossing. In Europe they are at your side of the crossing. You have to stop just before the lights. And when the lights are red, you cannot turn to the right unless a green dartlight shows you that you may do that. Sometimes there is a special lane to turn right (with no trafficlight)<BR><BR>In Spain (it depends from the roads you take)you may not wait in the middle of the crossing to turn to the left. You first have to turn to the right and wait there untill the trafficlight turns to green tro cross the street.<BR><BR>And in Germany there is no speed limit at the highway (unless it is indicated).<BR>In France the speed limit is 130km/h and when it is raining 110km/h.<BR>In Belgium and the Netherlands: 120km/h<BR>Most of the people drive a little bit faster than this. (that is normal here)<BR><BR>I don't think you will get seriously lost. Good luck!
Old Nov 11th, 2002, 06:40 AM
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The biggest surprise for many people is not having directional highway numbers. You MUST know the major towns in the direction you wish to travel. For example, there are no North I-75 or West I-10 type markers; the autobahn signs will be obvious, but they don't tell you which direction you're going. Your only indication will be the town you're heading towards. Otherwise, it's a piece of cake to turn around anywhere, given that the cars handle about 400 times better than ours! (Been there, done that, as has everyone else.)
Old Nov 11th, 2002, 07:12 AM
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I definitely agree with Walter about taking a small compass. I had printed directions from Mapblast for all of our daily travels and, most of the time, it wored out great. However, a couple of times, especially in the smaller cities, refernces was made to going North or East on a certain road instead of right,left or whatever. There was no way to know which direction this was so we had to guess and we weren't always right! A compass would have saved us some time and stress!
Old Nov 11th, 2002, 07:15 AM
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Just got back from driving (actually I was the navigator)in Belgium, France, and Germany. My best suggestion is to use the Viamichelin site to map out your routes. They give you itineraries with route numbers, exits, mileage (in KM), with very explicit directions (except once you get into a city). You can also print out maps with your route highlighted.<BR><BR>There were 5 of us in two cars and the other car was very relieved that I had done the homework and also given them a set of directions. 3 engineers in that car who followed the mileage directions exactly and had no problems. We, however, did get lost because I was following the signs. <BR><BR>I would recommend you buy maps (Michelin 1/200,000) for each area you will be traveling in and highlight your route on the map BEFORE you go. Also purchase maps of each country to give you the big picture. <BR><BR>Before entering a larger city, stop at one of those restaurant/gas station/information places on the freeway and purchase a map of the city.<BR><BR>In Colmar we had no problem finding the hotel because there were signs everywhere with hotel names on them directing you to the hotels.<BR><BR>Biggest problem for my husband were round-a-bouts. He tended to stop before entering one making the party behind us unhappy. <BR><BR>Also, I know in Belgium and France a car entering from the right has the right-of-way so even if you are on a major road and a car to your right is pulling on from a small road, you must yield. Many accidents happen because of this rule. <BR><BR>I would not drive in Brussels or Paris. We picked up our car at the airport which made getting out of Brussels much simplier and dropped it off at CDG. The engineers, on the other hand, rented their car at the midi train station in Brussels and even on a quiet holiday morning had a terrible time getting out of town.<BR><BR>Driving in the rain does make it more difficult due to visibility. While the driving times look shorter than the train travel times, when you count in rest stops, getting lost, traffic, I think the train takes less time and is so much more relaxing but then you are giving up mobility once you reach your destination. <BR><BR>If I had it to do over, I would take the train between say Brussels and Colmar and then rent a car to get around.<BR><BR>Look those maps over a LOT before you go and familiarize yourself with where route and exit numbers are on the map.<BR><BR>Have fun!
Old Nov 11th, 2002, 07:23 AM
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Yes, you will get lost. It's called vacation. The city driving part will be the only real challenge. Instead of trying to find the Best Western at 234 Broad Street you'll be trying to find Le Coq Brochette at 234 Rue de Traffique Snarle . . . and directions you'll get by stopping and asking will probably be about the same.
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