Cultural Learnings Of… European Traffic Violations, Part 3

Now heres a story to warm your hearts, proving Nederlands is a friggin cool country where even the Police are chilled out.

I was staying in Utrecht and needing to park my car, found a suburb on the outside of town where there were no parking restrictions and left my car there over night. See Im TRYING to abide by the law here.

I came back the next day and found the following note on my windscreen which confused me at first.

What the hell?? It took a while for me to translate this dutch masterpiece. Seemingly there is a problem with people sleeping in their cars in the area so this notice is telling me the law in a very universal manner

  • First time you get a warning and told to go to a designated car parking sleeping place thing
  • Second time you get a 95€ fine
  • Third time you get another 95€ fine, the give you some handcuffs (i think) and your car gets towed (to the parking place i presume…)

So I thought about this for a moment and realised I was not doing anything illegal, I am allowed to PARK here, just not SLEEP here. However, thats cool, Im staying in town. The nice dutch policeman (well you know, everyone in nederlands is high like 110% of the time) thought I was sleeping in the back because id covered everything with a big blanket. Knowing I was in the right, I left this polite note for the policemen

After that, my car was left alone for the rest of the week! Good on you Dutch police and your common sense, cheers to you!

Cultural Learnings Of… European Traffic Violations, Part 2

So whats all this about European traffic violations then? See, between most counties, if you get nabbed for something then they cant follow it up. Unless the copper actually stops you and makes you pay on the spot, which I have heard happens in France (but watch out for in Lithuania). Just because they are happy EU countries doesnt mean the traffic computer systems are linked, thats in the pipeline. Some countries already have individual agreements, like if your a krauty and you get pinged in Austria then your fine will follow you home but if you are say… an Estonian in…. ANY OTHER COUNTRY then you are totally fine.

We first learnt this trick on Eurotrip2006 when much to our surprise, parking fines didnt make it back to Sweden, where the car was registered. This perplexed us and we investigated a bit further. Think about it in this way. In 3 months through Europe I DID NOT SEE ONE OTHER ESTONIAN CAR. Do you think the flood of fines from this Eastern European country calls for the expense of such a computer hookup?

I like to think I uphold the rules where possible, I keep to the limit and I enjoy driving on the Autobahns in Germany where I am even allowed to go as fast as I want. Going above 150 is AWESOME. Still, after driving 9000KM, one can fauter sometimes and I am sure on occasion I stepped over the legal limit. I cant imagine where however.

Same goes with parking fines, I try to buy tickets where possible, even though I know they cant track me down. That makes me a good person right? Still even a saint like myself forgets sometimes and on this trip I got 4 parking fines

My conscience is clear, I TRIED. Trying is enough under the law right? If it means some poor parking enforcer gets another mark for his quota then I am happy, its WIN-WIN.

Cultural Learnings Of… European Traffic Violations, Part 1

My friends, sometimes you can be the coolest guy you can but someone tops you and when that happens, its time to gratiously bow to their genius. I wish I had thought of this. I SO WISH I HAD THOUGHT OF THIS.

http://www.thelocal.de/15209/20081029/

This guy got cameraed speeding in Germany, except the car is English so his steering wheel is on the other side and the camera isnt focused to pick up his face. In seeming knowledge of this fact, the guy puts ANIMAL from the Muppets in the passenger seat as a gift to the German coppers.

How did he know his face wouldnt be recognised? Or as I am thinking, this dude is so cocky he thought his face could be seen but he knew that German coppers cant prosecute English cars unless they are caught in the act.

THIS GUY IS MY HERO.

Just dont leave Animal there when you park the car. I bet he wasnt counting on the publicity however, I mean there cant be too many Audis in Bavaria with English number plates right?

Welcome to Estonia

Ive got 2 smelly truck drivers in my room
The drunken kiddies run around talking about how cheap the booze is
The old man stops and asks me to look up the scores of the ice hockey
The lady stops and tells me in swedish to turn off the computer
An american guy asks me about wifi and cant believe its free
People wonder the hallways endlessly doing laps like joggers in a park
Downstairs they sing english pop hits and swedish schlager karaoke songs all night long
The TV is in german but come morning it will be the local estonian channels
Thats fine, the swedish never rise that early anyway

Actually the beer is more than the Systembolaget

Theres only 1 place I can be: Tallink Ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn

I love this boat. There’s something about being in the north and taking a ferry somewhere. In the summer its the midnight sun. On a clear night its magical. In the winter its the cold and the ice outside. You can really feel like you are some kind of Estonian viking, travelling to far off lands to plunder. These days however, they suffice with selling them overpriced booze.

Its good to be home

Cultural Learnings Of… Chestnut Roasting In Slovenia

This weekend I was fortunate enough to go with a few friends to Zans house and we roasted chestnuts and had a few drinks. Its a really awesome tradition, they went out that morning and picked the nuts, we then made small cuts in them so they wouldnt explode and put them in a pan on the fire. Tasty things too, once you pop you cant stop. Speaking of popping, try a few on the fire without making a cut, waawaaweewaa!

Check all the photos here

I Feel Slovenia

Eurotrip 2008, a "road trip for a few weeks to do some work and see some people along the way" has turned into a 10 week odyssey through 11 countries with another 4 to go just to get home. After I bid farewell to this place Ive only got a few weeks and Ill be back in sunny Tallinn, Estonia. Just a few weeks. ha. Ive come a long way both on the Autobahns and personally in those 2 and a half months, it really seems a lifetime ago I bid my Slovenian friends farewell on the ferry to Helsinki and now I am here again, seeing them in their home town. Just to quickly recap, some of the things which have happened on this trip

  • Hung with Nils and checked out Copenhagen
  • Saw Hester, Muriel and Bart in Nederlands and had my bike stolen in Utrecht. Not letting myself be beaten, I used the Dutch classified and ended up with not 1 but 2 new bikes. Still, the story makes no sense.
  • One of these bikes is an old French racing bike so I started to fix it up and decided that nothing would be grander than riding it in France, so I called up my aussie friend Lucy and we went on a trip
  • Visited Geert and enjoyed seeing his town in Belgium
  • Randomly ran into Krishna in Belgium, awesome night. Discovered how great 9% beer is but how it can really sneak up on you.
  • Went to the D Day beaches on Normandie, a really moving event. Made me think "if these guys died to protect your freedom, then you better be out there making something of it"
  • Rode that French bike for 100km around the Champagne region, most memorable day
  • Left my car in some farmers field in France for a week. Apparently I got the attention of local law enforcement authorities.
  • Took the Volvo for 5 hard laps around the Nürburgring and squeezed out an 11:01
  • Hung out with Adam in Hamburg and we had some great man-dates
  • Flew back to Tallinn for Meelikas birthday, damm I miss that girl. Also greeted Matic and Andres on their trip to Eestimaa
  • Checked out a new German town, Jena with my friend Susi
  • Spend more fabulous time in Switzerland with my old friend Judith. We went to the top of big assed mountains and I ate choclate and cheese like theres no tomorrow. Still didnt managed to find that nazi gold. I did wonder where all the nice gold rimmed plates came from though…
  • Had the car in two seperate mechanics, Hamburg and Sankt Gallen, but still she is now going strong
  • Flew to England to work for a week and have a few English pints.
  • Went 2760 metres up to maybe the greatest driving road in the world, the Stelvio Pass in Italy.
  • Learnt that Austria really lost something at the end of WWI and the town of Merano, being half Austrian and half Italian is awesome fun with Evelin
  • Now I am in Slovenia seeing all the good people here. Ljulbana is a great town, a fantastic place to go to university and I rarely have a free minute when Im here

Its been an fantastic trip and as usual, totally planned on the go around seeing the good people I know and my work. I feel so fortunate to live the life I have so far. Those days in Champagne were some of the most blissful I can remember, maybe it was something to do with not drinking coffee and becoming like the hummingbird but for those days amongst the vineyards, it was the good stuff. I can say with certainty at this stage of my life I am very happy with the path my life has gone and the journey I have had. Ive seen some of the most amazing places in the world and I have rock and roll friends who are all so generous and kind to this travelling Australia with the often inappropiate jokes.

I am happy Ive made the last big stop over Ljubljana in Slovenia, its great to see this place again and how its progressed in the two years since I first visited, its a credit to everyone here. I also managed to get out of the city for the first time and went to Lake Bled, you know the one with the castle on an island in the middle

I am also doubley happy because today is Mojcas birthday and tonight is a massive party where Ill get to see everyone again.

Its good to be back to the roots again with my Yugoslavian brothers and sisters. Its happy days for sure, I really dig the life I lead. Its all going to be changing a bit soon but more on that later, that stuff is going to be kick ass too but right now, its good just to be in the moment, me, eurotank, old frenchie and the good people around me.

Rock On.