|The typical road sign|
I was eighteen when I got the freedom to go to Europe with my friend. The trip was a Contiki bus tour with a bunch of 18-35 year olds and would start in London and continue to Paris and Rome. It was the perfect getaway. We were well organized with maps, schedules and itineraries of where we wanted to go. We were so organized that after one day, we saw what most people see in a week.
However in all our haste to see it all, we got honked at quite a bit. My explanation to this was that we were hot and European men tend to honk at pretty women. This was how the media portrayed it. Of course, this is more common in Italy and even if the British are protrayed as being a touch more cold and reserved; we figured it was still very European to honk.
The next day, we realized that women were honking at us as well… But I read an article in a British magazine the night before, about women turning towards relationships with women and not men due to the lack of good men. I figured they were attracted to us as well! Feeling like a million bucks we continued our tour of the beautiful city. Its’ cathedrals, museums, cute neighborhoods and amazing parks both inspired us and made us feel special with the attention that the city was giving us.
It was not until the last day as we were boarding our bus to go to Bath in England (another amazing town), that we realized that the streets had big signs of “LOOK LEFT” or “LOOK RIGHT”. We were so used to looking at one side of the street that it did not clue in that we were crossing when a car was coming from the other direction! So all the honks were really trying to save our lives and not trying to show us their love. At the end of the day, we had a good laugh about it and realized that we are no longer on the other side of the pond and we really have to be careful when crossing the street and adjusting to new cultures. This was a very valuable lesson learned that I never forgot on my subsequent trips to both United Kingdom and more dangerous places where drivers will not stop at a red light (Brazil), where they will stop less than a foot away from you (Italy) and where you have to watch yourself when crossing even on a green light (Russia).