After we landed here in 2001, we still had our California driver’s licenses. We were able to renew them twice via mail, but then for the next renewal, we were required to appear for eye exams. Needless to say, flying to California for an eye exam was not worth the effort, especially with one license expiring in January and the other in July. We allowed them to lapse.
For the most part, this has not been a major problem. In some ways, it has been a blessing. We do not have the expense or headache of car ownership: no monthly payments, no car insurance, no parking woes, and no tickets.
Additionally, we are not going to incur the expenses of a car rental either. Honestly, from all travel reports I read, there are so many hidden fees and ways to ‘get you’ from the major companies, not having this option is really a blessing.
On the other side of the coin, we sometimes feel limited in our travels. When we read or hear about some enticing destinations that make us drool, we are ready to pack our bags until we reach the not so fine print. A car is required to reach this or that place since there is no public transportation. Though this is temporarily disappointing, there are thousands of other places that welcome us with open buses, trams, metros, and trains. We are not lacking opportunities, after all, we have been to 69 countries and even when it was possible, never rented a car.
This is one reason I refuse to visit the US. Public transportation outside of the major cities ranges from less than satisfactory to non-existent. There are many friends and a few relatives who suggest we visit them, but the problem is that we are held captive in their home. We cannot rent a car to be independent. We have to rely on our hosts for all transport needs, which may or may not include visiting other friends in the area. As much as I love our friends and family, I cannot stand the thought of ruining the relationship by spending a holiday in their home.
Benjamin Franklin said it best “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” But then I found a very interesting article by a psychologist, Dr. Shawn Burn, who really exemplified what I believe to be true both as the host and the guest. She states
At the heart of the matter is that houseguests temporarily set up their personal shop in another’s primary territory. In contrast to secondary territories (like workplaces) and public territories (like stores), this is typically a cherished, personal territory where inhabitants have a high degree of personal control over an extended period of time…
Houseguests then, are stressful to the extent that they disrupt our routines and usurp the high amount of control we normally enjoy in this personal territory. If their routines interfere with ours or if their presence restricts our normal uses of home spaces, stress is likely.
You can read her full article here.
This leads me to mention that today, someone posted an advertisement for a driving school here in Budapest, in English. For one WILD moment of insanity, I thought hmmm… maybe I should consider taking driving lessons and getting my license again. Then I looked over the information provided by the school. This is not just the requirements for English speakers, but the standards for everyone. Getting a driver’s license is a tough hurdle regardless of nationality, gender, age, or income.
The moment passed!
DRIVING SCHOOL continuously launches “B” category courses in English!
APPLICATION: Please phone, send an e-mail or come to the office!
OFFICE: Budapest, VIII. Festetics Street. 2-4
OFFICE-HOURS: from am 9:00 to pm 6:00
PHONE: 36 20 465-3534
BEFORE THE COURSE YOU NEED TO HAVE:
1. Filled in application form (received by application)
2. Medical certificate (from your doctor)
3. Residence permits valid for at least 6 months
4. You must pay 15.600 Ft for the exams, to The Controlling Authority (4.600 Ft + 11.000 Ft)
I. THEORETICAL COURSE
• Traffic knowledge, constructional (sic) and operating knowledge, theory of driving
II. DRIVING PRACTICE (2×50 minutes/occasion)
According to the Hungarian rules you have to take at least 29 driving lessons, (+ the exam) which consist of:
• 9 lessons routine exercises
• 14 lessons driving in the city
• 2 lessons driving at night
• 4 lessons driving outside built-up areas
You must take a practical exam:
Traffic exam (60 minutes)
You may only take the exam if:
• You are considered fit for driving
• You are more then 17 years old
• You are able to write and read
• You have a certificate from the elementery (sic) or higher school.
You can meet the teacher at a place you have agreed to previously, somewhere on the line of the underground.
Book (traffic rules) 2.500 Ft
Driving practice (15 occasions 30 x 3600) 108.000 Ft
Registration fee 20.000Ft
You can take extra lessons if necessary for successful practical
Observing how most people drive here, it boggles my mind that they passed these requirements.