It’s probably not as bad as all that. But now that we have wheels – only two really – we are mobile. Seems like that would be a good thing. Driving ourselves to where ever we want to go. We’re free wheelin’ now. Ha!!
No more constrained by where the Valensibi bikes can take us. No more taxi charges. The Metro is great but it only goes so many places. Now we can go to Shopping City and we’re not constrained by the hours (or siestas) of the IKEA bus. We were so excited and then we discovered The Spanish Round About.
Now in the US, our use of round abouts is more limited but has grown over the last 10 years. So, as a people, we’ve been forced to come to terms with their use. Not so hard. You just pull up to the roundabout, wait for it to be clear to enter, get into it and get out. Easy. One lane in, one lane out. Civilized.
On our ride across Western Europe last week, we found the round abouts of France and Germany to be much the same. No problem. Then we hit Spain. I could hear Jeff ‘s screaming inside his helmet, all the way in my helmet – through layers of padding and a hard shell to keep out sound. It didn’t inspire confidence while clinging to the back of the motorcycle he was controlling.
This image is how NOT to do a round about. The blue car is doing it right. The Green car is doing it right. The red and yellow cars? Yeah, not so much. And here’s the thing. In our experience, nearly everyone is a red or yellow car. OMG!!!
If you look at the image – and it’s pretty accurate in most round abouts, there are two lanes entering the round about, but three or four lanes in the round about. Why would there ever be three or four lanes? Doesn’t everyone eventually need to exit the round about? Who would ever need to be in the lanes closest to the center? They would never get out. I’ll tell you who – Jeff.
We got stuck in a round about. Traffic whizzing past and him being afraid of getting hit by the cars careening towards us, weaving in and out of each other as they went around and shot off across multiple lanes of traffic into other streets, nearly taking each other out in the process.
Eventually, we got out and stopped on a side street. His helmet came off.
‘What the HELL?! That’s insane! Did you see that?!!’
I couldn’t believe he was asking me this question. I was still replaying some of the less attractive moments in my life as it had flashed before my eyes just moments ago.
‘We can’t go back into that thing!’ He was hyper ventilating.
‘How are we going to get home? They’re delivering everything by 6.’ I reminded him, but at this point I didn’t really care about that.
He didn’t answer at first. Silence. Then he put his helmet back on and typed some stuff on to the GPS. Apparently there was no ‘Avoid Spanish Round About’ setting. He had to go back into the belly of the beast. He started the bike. I girded my loins – literally – I practically wrapped my legs around him and prayed.
He had 4 round abouts to navigate before we were home free on a straight away near our apartment. This is what we learned.
- Stay to the outside – at least you can get out.
- Just because you are on the outside, doesn’t mean someone won’t come careening from your left (it’s guaranteed to happen) and cut you off or take you out.
- When you exit the round about in the right lane, onto the right lane of the road you’re getting off on, you’ll need to immediately get over because you’ll be in the transit/taxi only lane. (why do they allow cars to exit into this lane in the first place? Who knows?)
- Never, ever get into the center of the round about unless you can get super aggressive and be willing to fight your way to the outside.
- Never, ever listen to your GPS. Garmin software is a pack of lies and will lead you somewhere you don’t want to go. (maybe this is an exaggeration, but I don’t think it is.)
We made it home. The stuff got delivered and we’re ready when Emilie get’s here on Saturday. But, like almost every other time we’ve gone out to Shopping City – we have forgotten a few things and will need head back there before the week is up. That IKEA bus is looking pretty good right now..
Before this week, I would have told you I didn’t need driving lessons. Its stupid we have to take a test and do hours of driving lessons. We already know how to drive – been doing it for years. But now, after the last few days, I’m pretty sure we are 100% in agreement that we need them. No way am I driving here without them. Spain 1 v. Us 0.