Sunday 19 April 2009

Learning to drive in Sorrento

Time is just flying by here in Sorrento and still I have found little time to blog...or even take any photos...or even see much of Sorrento for that matter! I have been busy driving up and down the Amalfi Coast numerous times...and let me say I am a fantastic driver!

I was working myself into a nervous wreck at the thought of driving 'on the other side of the road' up and down the Amalfi Coast. If you have seen the coast you know what I mean...and if you haven't well...think twisty, windy, narrow roads jutting out on the end of a cliff with nothing but the angry sea below you. To top it off the road is hardy wide enough for one car to pass through some parts, not to mention the huge buses that speed past, madly tooting their horns as they fly around the blind curves.

Adding to my anxiety about driving on the coast, was the fact that my rental car is like a tank...rather then the smart car that I requested (if you don't know what a smart car is, it's a tiny Lego like 2 seater car that are very popular over here in Europe where there is no where to park, and the roads are almost too narrow to drive down.) Before picking up my rental car the other week I asked specifically that it be small, the smallest car they have available and of course the rental company assured me it was. I went down to the agency: apprehension, nerves and excitement coursing through my veins as this was to be the first proper time that I would be driving in Italy. You can imagine my shock when I saw this big, black 5 door thing waiting for me. Ok, so it was a nice, sleek looking car but it was massive! I did kindly point this out to the agency that it was far from small, and have since been pestering them on a weekly basis to call me when a smaller car comes in.

But after being a nervous wreck, I jumped into the car and did the Amalfi drive...and it was actually fine! All that time spent worrying for nothing. So what if the first time I was driving so slow that a rather large line of cars was impatiently behind me, for it is almost impossible to over-take on the Amalfi Coast unless you want to die. And I did take a few of the corners a wee bit wide and maybe just missed the crazy buses by and inch...and I did nearly knock a few poor pedestrians down, but what on earth are they doing walking there! The second time, and then the third and fourth saw me just getting faster and much so that yesterday I was even yelling insult at a slow rental car driving in front of me! "Get off the road you stupid tourists if you don't know how to drive!" Ahh...well everyone did tell me that the only way to drive here was to drive like an Italian!ave to


Rosa said...

Good on you for having the courage to attempt it! It's not so much the Amalfi Drive that frightens me as having to park the car within millimetres of the next or having to drive in Sorrento which is totally without traffic lights!
Those who go jogging or cycling along the Drive are just asking to be knocked over...

Laura said...

Ciao Leanne! Brava! That is the only way to get over the fear. I haven't bothered to worry about the road being scary, because I am still worried about figuring out how to drive the manual transmission car. The road comes next! But your story is inspiring - that it isn't as scary as it seems at first! Good job! I will be back in town after the 25th, so let me know when things calm down a bit for you . . . or when you will be zooming through Amalfi next. Look forward to meeting you!

LuLu said...

You are a brave woman! :) But, congratulations on biting the bullet and just doing it!!

P.S - hahaha "it's a tiny Lego like 2 seater car" that is the best and most accurate description for those Smart cars!

Bitter Chocolate said...

Great job! Personally, I'm way too insecure about my driving skills to actually even try driving in quiet and peaceful conditions... Guess that's what happens when you're constantly told how you'll never have what it takes to be a driver and that even if you'll somehow miraculously end up passing the drivers' licence exam, you'll just end up killing people - yeah, the instructor who was giving me my driving classes was a sweetheart...

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! How brave are you???
Cleo :)

Melbourne Iain said...

Well done, My wife and I with friends drove from Venice (Mestre)to Tropea via Positano. It was all the more intresting because I'm used to driving on the other side of the road and from the other seat!

But I too found that if you drive like the locals you can get by much easier.

Gil said...

I made that trip in 1998 and will never forget those huge German buses going through the hairpins diagonally!

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

HI scintilla,
Well..I had no courage but sort of had to just do the drive and it turned out that I did have the courage hidden somewhere! And do not get me started on the stupid people who have to ride bikes on the Amalfi drive. I nearly killed some the other day as they were speeding around on the wrong side of the road!

Hi Laura,
You'll get the hang of stick driving soon. At least you are already ok with driving on 'that' side of the road.

Hi LuLu ,
I was brave wasn't i? I felt SO happy after I had successfully done it!

Hi Bitter Chocolate,
I cannot believe the driving instructer said those horrible things to you! Poor thing.

Hi Cleo,
I am brave...and now at least I can come and visit you as I can drive there!

Hi Melbourne Iain.

Gosh... Venice (Mestre)to Tropea via Positano. That is one hell of a drive!I do not think that I am quite ready to do that...but I guess I am learning to never say never :)

Hi Gil,
Those buses are still wizzing around not leaving room for any other cars to pass!

Louise | Italy said...

Hey! Well done. It's a whole new ballgame, driving in Italy. I know, as a 40-something with two small kiddies I realised the time had come to learn to drive (for the first time) here in Italy. I'm on Lago Maggiore with the same kinds of roads as you describe here. I never drive faster than my guardian angel can fly...

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

Hi Louise,
I love what you said " never drive faster than my guardian angel can fly..." roads in the north or south of Italy are just crazy!

driving instructor Melbourne said...

It was nice reading your story.