One week ago, I was chasing nieces and nephews around an old castle in Hungary for post-wedding pictures of my brother and new sister-in-law.
Last Sunday we departed the land of the magyar-speakers - home of what I now believe are the Worst Drivers in the Frikking World - for a road trip that took us through Austria, Germany, Belgium, France, the Channel and England.
Lessons learned on toilets: ex-Communist countries and bastard capitalist countries (mostly I'm referring to the US) are the only people that seem to believe that one should be allowed to relieve oneself for free next to the road. The bastards at Shell in Belgium - who took 50 bucks from us for petrol - still wouldn't let me piss for free. Hungary and Slovakia, however, let you pee in real toilets for free. France provided holes in the ground, complete with raised concrete demonstrating where one should place one's feet (I hadn't seen this since South America, and was frankly a little surprised).
Lessons learned on speed: Hungarians have, in my and Richard's opinion, the most blatant disregard for appropriate speed that I have ever seen. Sure the Germans and French are fast, but at least they're fast on motorways. The Hungarians are speed demons on two-lane highways. It's like they have brand new cars for the first time in their lives, and damn it they're going to drive like loonies.
Lessons learned on France: I'd like to move there, especially after driving from old congested England to big open France. More specifically, I'd like Maggie to move there, set up a commune, and then Rich and I can move over and do some sort of supporting work. They have fresh bread at campgrounds. At Campgrounds!!! Also, I thought CA wine was cheap, but it turns out France is too.
Lessons learned in England: I drove in England for two weeks. Every said "Driving on the wrong side of the road is tough! Especially first thing in the morning and in parking lots!" Well, that wasn't the hard part. The hard part was the bleeding roads, which were only wide enough for two cars but managed to have parking on both sides of the road AND two directions of traffic. Rich always says there are fewer accidents in England, but I can now only assume that's because you have to be on CONSTANT ALERT, else you'll run into: cars, churches, pubs, roundabouts, trucks, etc.
Worst job ever: Lorry driver in rural england. Jesus christ. I'd have to be on nerve medication.
Anyway, europe was great. All of it. I balked at taking 5 weeks off when Rich suggested it, but it's been absolutely fantastic, and I was sad to come home. What a week!