There aren’t many hobbies or activities that are directly translated into every language around the globe. Certain sports are one of them, with Cricket and European Football first coming to mind. This is also true with Religion, regardless of who your God is, people pray in every language. Of course there are other subjects such as music, but cars surely cannot be ignored. Automobiles keep the world moving, and the heart of car culture lives here in Europe. This was prevalent from my first moment outside the airport in January, when we were picked up in a VW van that had a manual transmission. It has surely been an interesting semester here in Europe for me, especially without a car. I have felt almost trapped at times, as this was the first time since earning my license that I haven’t had a bike or car to pilot.
I have spotted some interesting cars as you will see, but the most fun I had while in Europe was renting an Opel Astra (1.6L Diesel, manual of course) in Portugal with two of my friends and seeing the country for a weekend. What a thrill driving is after a couple months off the road. We received the rental car and set off, no destination in mind. We aimed for the coast and ended up on a very twisty road leading up hill. With each hairpin turn, the view grew more and more stunning. After about half an hour of heel toe downshifts and torquey accelerations (plus complaining passengers due to my slightly aggressive driving) we made it to Cabo de Roca. 100-foot cliffs, crashing waves and endless visibility; we had just haphazardly arrived at the most Western point of continental Europe! A sight we never would have made it to if we didn’t have a car, and we arrived only 90 minutes after touch down on the runway. This was a memory I won’t soon forget.
I have learned so much about world culture, city life and people during my stay here in Europe. I have lived for about 4 months relying on my two feet and a metro system to get around. I have learned to really love city life, and I truly could commute using public transit each day. However, to be truly satisfied, I know I’ll need at least one car in the garage to help me connect with the rest of the world!
- Ben Chester