Thursday, April 23, 2009

“The streets have names! The houses numbers!”

This was one of the messages Shu sent me hours after she had arrived in München, Germany, for a shortish trip to Europe.

“You can tell the Germans drive their cast fast, but well!”, was another text message she sent.

It actually brought a HUGE smile on my face :)

I guess it doesn’t make much sense unless you have spent some time here in the sandpit. For those who haven’t, here is a quote from a CouchSurfer who was going to stay with us, whom we just sent the description of our buildings’ location (building x, behind building y, on street y): “can’t you just send me the address?”, silly guy, I know, of course not, no one would understand it, let alone know how to find it!

The way-things-work-here-in-the-sandpit: All streets have numbers, most of ‘em also have names, all  of them have nicknames. A map will usually show you only the official name that no one uses, and if you’re lucky, it’ll also show the number. But no one uses those either (apart from people who have just arrived and haven’t adjusted to the ‘system’), cos everyone uses the nicknames, which are on no map. Also, houses don’t have numbers, well, they do, but no one uses those. That would be too easy, eh?

So imagine the surprise of being in a country which is actually organized to use street names and house numbers for what is was intended! So one could actually give an address and find his way around!

Also, speeding is one of the main causes of accidents in this country, linked to a staggering number of deaths. But it’s not just speeding, and Germany is the prime example for this. No speed limits on most of its highways, and a relative low number of casualties on its roads. It’s more than just speeding, it’s the way people drive. And out here, it’s maniacal. The comparison I draw is the difference between driving in Manila and UAE, in Manila, traffic might be worse than in UAE, but people at least take others in consideration. Whereas here, people don’t. It’s that simple. A signal to switch lanes here is interpreted as a signal to block the other person, at all costs, to enter the lane he/she wants to enter. It’s horrible.

I guess for us, traveling outside the region, is our reality check, to know that there is a world out there which is understandable, in which people can give you an address which you can look up and actually *find* on a map!

We were talking about it for the past few weeks. We hadn’t necessarily planned to go back to Europe, but circumstances made it this way (not that we mind, mind you!). And it is our way of making sure the real world is actually out there, with real people, with real addresses!

Shu has just started her trip to München, Germany, and will also visit Salzburg, Austria, to visit friends, and then will join me in The Hague, The Netherlands. I will join her there, flying in from Brussels (where else?! Anywhere else would just have made sense!).

It’ll be a welcome week surrounded by friends and pamily, and addresses that make sense :)

1 comment:

sonya said...

Guys, this sounds like so, so, so much fun. I'm so jealous you get to go hoooome where you feel you belong, and aren't just in someone's way (on the road) or trying desperately to find your own way (due to the lack of addresses.) Travel safely :)