I finally did it! The look of panic on the man’s face is an expression that I won’t be forgetting for a while. I know it will have been reflected in mine as the realization hit that I was, indeed, driving on the wrong side of the road.
I guess it was going to happen at some stage and, as we have been in Switzerland for three months now, it’s fairly impressive it hasn’t already occurred. Thankfully I noticed in time and did get back to the correct side of the road before the other car hit us, narrowly avoiding a head on collision.
Switzerland seems to have a lot of cars and the revenue made on car parking must account for a huge proportion of the income raised by the local Gemeinde, every car park has a charge and free parking is non-existent. The exciting thing for my son is that many of these cars are luxury saloons, sports cars and high performance cars. We rarely go a day without spotting a sleek Ferrari in the wing mirror or a growling Maserati eager to turn out of a junction. Go into Zug town centre on a weekend and practically every other car is a Porsche or Ferrari. Indeed even the school car park is bursting at the seams with people carriers (probably not the right term, forgive my ignorance) and saloons boasting Mercedes, Audi and BMW badges.
When we first moved over I was bothered by the fact that we were, for the first time ever, a one car family. I was worried about how we would cope, whether Steve’s company would get humpy over the fact that I was using the car during school term time and not the intended recipient. However I was quickly reassured on that front: “Oh my goodness, don’t worry about that! I can guarantee that practically every car here is a Company car that is being driven by the spouse.” So said one of my new friends when I voiced my concern, “All the men go to work on the bus or train.” And so it has come to pass that Steve gets the bus to work – or if he’s feeling energetic he has even been known to cycle!
Okay, sometimes I have to take the kids to school on the bus – if my husband actually needs the car for company purposes. Okay, I sometimes (read frequently) feel like a taxi driver picking the kids up from school and from play dates, and my husband up from the airport or the office. But actually I quite enjoy only having the one car. The days where I don’t have the car I either plan to be out all day exploring the local area, or I’ll venture further afield using the train or bus. There is no stress about when the car will need winter tyres or whether we’ll have the money for them, no panic over insurance renewal or the road tax because we are lucky enough that the company will take care of it all. I have even become a more careful driver (yes, I remember how I started this post). I am paranoid about being caught speeding as here in Switzerland the fine can be means tested – one gentleman just paid 1,000,000CHF after giving his supercar a blast up the highway. I am dreading being pulled over as part of the Polizei random stops which I am assured will happen sooner or later.
Provided I don’t do anything stupid (like drive on the wrong side of the road and crash) then being a one car family may be an unforeseen bonus of our Big Adventure.