Tag Archives: driving

Road Trip: getting there

While travel throughout Europe is generally quite easy, Norway isn’t exactly the easiest country to navigate from. Most trips require either a plane ride (so thankful for inexpensive local airlines!), or at the least a ferry to get you going.Our recent road trip to Germany began with a ferry ride. We drove just south to Larvik, and took the ferry to Hirtschals in Denmark. It was an early morning for us, leaving the house just after 6:00. The ferry journey was almost 4 hours, but a sweet friend gave us free tickets that included reserved seats.

What’s even better is the seats were like business class seats on an airplane, comfy and with lots of space. Complete with personal screens for television and movies, free headphones, and complimentary self-serve snacks and drinks: it was a treat! Add to that some cool duty-free shops to explore, and those four hours went by rather quickly.

Made it to Germany!

The idea of getting to drive through a new country (first time in Denmark!) was exciting. The reality? Not so much. While the speed limit was a bit higher than Norway’s very conservative 100 or 110 kph, there was very little to see along the way.

Once into Germany, we still had quite a few hours ahead of us. Of course as I mentioned before (see post here), Zack enjoyed finally getting to drive on the autobahn. But still, a lot of driving will wear you out!

Our first stop was Dusseldorf, and we arrived at the hostel around 9:00 at night. We were exhausted and glad to have finally made it.


Leaving Denmark and entering Germany

That’s one more check off of Zack’s bucket list!

Our recent trip to Germany was by car and by boat. We drove to a neighboring city, took a ferry from Norway to Denmark, then made our way south and into Germany.
And driving in Germany means taking the autobahn (German highway). While many sections have speed limits, you do come across quite a few stretches where there is not an official limit, only a suggested speed of 130 kmh (@81 mph).
It is surprising how quickly a car can sneak up on you from behind – you’d best be using your rear view mirror! Zack found a couple of more open areas without much traffic, and proceeded to see what our little car could do. We saw 160 once, and then resumed our position among the ‘lesser automobiles’ in the center or right lane. Often we could feel our car shake a bit as a Maserati, Porsche, Ferrari or other high-end vehicle would speed past.Have you ever driven on the autobahn?

What is something on your bucket list that you hope to accomplish soon?

Ticket to Drive

I’ve posted about what it’s like to drive here in Norway (see post here). What I didn’t address was a driver’s license.The idea of having to take a driving test scared me. Sure, I’ve been driving since I was 15, but being tested on rules in a European country? Whoa. And in another language? Even more frightening! And trying to learn road rules and take a theory test in a second language? No thanks.

There are different requirements based on the license you already hold. Lucky for us, the requirements for someone with a US driver’s license weren’t so bad. As long as we began the licnse exchange process within the first year of arriving, we could exchange our license by completing a one-hour lesson and passing the road test. No theory/written test required. But only if we passed the first time (had we not passed, the requirements were significant.)

Zack began his process last fall, and it went smoothly. After his ‘lesson’ and test, he was the proud owner of a Norwegian drivers license. He was also happy to report that both the school instructor and the driving test examiner did everything in English.

The one-hour lesson does two things 1) it allows you use of the driving school’s car to take the test (we were not allowed to use our own car). And 2) it involves driving with the instructor from Sandefjord to Larvik (where the testing facility is). You get instruction along the way, tips on things to improve, and reminders about rules that are a bit different from what we know from America.

So in late January (about four days shy of one year here – yes, I’m a procrastinator) I began all the paperwork to exchange my license. A few weeks ago, just after Zack returned from the states, I took my test. Same instructor and same examiner. And same result: success!

While we probably could have managed fine taking the test in Norwegian, it was nice to have one less stress factor involved.It feels good to have one more thing in place to make life a little easier here in our new home!


What’s it Like: Driving

It’s always an adventure to drive in a new place. But driving in a new country is something even more interesting!
In Norway, we drive on the right side of the road, just like in the states. But there are many things that are different. Here’s a look at some of what we’ve become accustomed to…
Roundabouts (or rotaries) are quite common here. While they are not terribly confusing, they took some time to learn!
This picture shows the entrance into a large rotary.
The signs above let you know what lies in each direction, and
which lane you should be in.
As you enter the roundabout: signal right if you plan to take the first right
(for example here, the E18 freeway to Oslo)
Don’t signal if you plan to take the roundabout exit that is straight ahead
(for example, Kilen)
Signal left if you plan to go three-quarters around and take the exit that is to the left
(in this case, Sentrum S, or the South side of downtown)
As you are about to exit the roundabout, you should signal right.
This is as you are just about to enter the roundabout.
The blue sign lets you know it’s a roundabout.
And you always have to yield to cars already in the roundabout.


The blue arrow lets you know that the road is dividing, and
which direction you should go. This is especially helpful
when there is a lot of snow!
You are entering a No Passing Zone.
This sign lets you know you are leaving the no pass zone.
Anytime you see the sign all in gray with the diagonal lines,
it means you’re leaving that particular zone (could be no passing,
or a speed limit, etc.)


Pedestrian Sign – these are important!!
Pedestrians have the right-of-way at all
crosswalks, unless it is controlled by a traffic light.
You must stop, so you always need to be looking to the
sides of the street as you approach a crosswalk.


This indicates a 60 kph speed zone. Currently,
Norway’s highest allowed speed is 100 (on some
portions of the freeway/E18).

Our biggest learning curve came with the yellow diamond, seen below. If you see this sign, it means you’re on a main road. You have the right of way and do not have to yield to traffic from other roads. Okay, that isn’t a problem. But when you don’t have the yellow diamond, you must yield to roads on your right. So if a car is coming from the road on the right, you have to stop and let them out. This one was strange for us!

Ah, the yellow diamond. This is the one that
confused us the most as we learned to drive here!