13 August 2007

Random Observations from a Car Window

This past weekend we took GLH's mother on a whirlwind tour of France and Belgium. A fair amount of what we saw was from the car window.

Here are my observations on the Road Trip Habits of Europeans...

1. The Dutch must really, really love camping. In Switzerland, France and Belgium there were many RV's, camper trailers and backseats stuffed with sleeping bags and tents. Most of the time (perhaps as much as 80% of the obvious campers we saw) the camping gear was in a vehicle with Netherlands license plates. Second most number of campers were Germans followed by a distant UK.

2. The French mostly go the posted speed limit except for occasional packs of aggressive drivers. The packs tend to consist of 4-5 cars going 160 kph or more. They follow each other quite closely and weave in and out of traffic. Perhaps they prefer the validation a pack of speeders provides? By the way, the Germans are perfectly capable of speeding all by themselves without the benefit of group protection.

3. It must be very confusing to take your car through the Chunnel. Along the way from Brussels to Paris we were joined by many UK drivers who were obviously coming from Calais. In most cases, the UK drivers were passing on the right. This practice makes total sense when cars drive on the left side of the road, but is extremely dangerous when cars drive on the right side as they tend to do in the rest of Europe. We saw a couple of near misses when Continental Europeans changed lanes with no clue that a UK driver was passing them on the right side.

4. The French must be quite tired and need repeated naps. It is the only explanation for the presence of rest areas every 10-20 kilometers along all major French motorways. By the way, I highly recommend that you stop at the rest areas that also have gas and food. Otherwise you may end up peeing in a hole in the floor or standing in front of a bush, depending upon the stop. Although many do not seem to mind. We saw a few men who chose the bush even when an actual restroom with a toilet was available at no cost less than 20 meters from where they stood.

5. I am continually astounded by the number of people of all nationalities and in all areas of the world who decide not to wash their hands after a toilet stop. Yeech! By the way, truly washing your hands requires the use of soap. Using only water simply moves the germs around on your hands. I suggest that you rub soap into your hands for the length of time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" then rinse with water as hot as you can stand. At least that is what we were taught in kindergarten and I believe it is still considered good advice.

6 comments:

Beth said...

I sing Happy Birthday while I brush my teeth too!

Global Librarian said...

Were you a school crossing guard?

Just wondering...

Impossible Jane said...

when I am traveling I don't wash my hands in the yucky rest stops. I carry hand wipes. I leave the bathroom as quickly as possible and then rinse my hands with the wipes. So if we ever run into each other at a travel rest stop and you see me not washing my hands thats what i'm doing.

Global Librarian said...

A likely excuse! C'mon, Jane, fess up! :-)

Impossible Jane said...

You'll have to trust me on that one. I am a germaphobe.

MyWeeWorld said...

Oh gosh, the hand washing! One girl I used to work with never washed her hands after using the restroom, and she said it was because "I'm not a guy. I don't touch anything down there when I go!" Eeewww!!! She would even eat right after.

On RVs - I never realized they had them in Europe until I started watching cycling races on tv a few years ago. I was stunned by the number of RVs. I really thought they were an American phenomenon.

On men and bushes - *throws hands in air* Boys will be boys.