If you’ve ever wondered how it is to reach Antarctica by the sea, here’s a story about it.
If you are so lucky to have the possibility to visit Antarctica, the journey from your residence place to your Antarctic destination will be typically made of two distinct parts.
First you will reach a country in the southern hemisphere–like Argentina, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand–by commercial transportation.
Then you will fly or sail to Antarctica.
This article tells a story of how Antarctica is reached by the sea in the form of a navigation log. The source is first-hand, since I’ve written it myself during my first trip to Antarctica not long time ago.
This journey has started in Christchurch, New Zealand and has ended at Dumont D’Urville, Adelie Land, Antarctica.
Going from a civilized, temperate-climate region, to Antarctica is like traveling to anotherplanet, especially if you don’t have any previous experience in a polar environment.
You see the world you are familiar with transforming into something else, something really, really different. That happens in the span of a few days.
Our hero approaches the driving school manager and hands him money. It’s a whole by-weekly salary for him.
It’s not a payment, it’s bribery. The manager will hand-over that money to the examiner (of course after retaining a percentage of it). It’s nothing unusual around there. Everybody does that.
But this time the manager seems to be unexpectedly reluctant. After hesitating for a second he says: “I’m sorry, but I know your father is a policeman. It’s too dangerous. I will take nothing from you.”
That day our hero was the only one to fail road test.
Which countries are the best to be born in? Where my children would have the best opportunities? These questions tease any prospective expat parent. The Economist tries to give an answer to these questions since many years.
The moment we consider relocating to another country we ask ourselves whether and how that will improve our life.
If you have children, you would probably think of an improvement in their quality of life first.
Therefore becoming an expat can often be a way to give a better future to our children. Hence the question of this article: in which country should I give birth and raise my children in order to give them a better life than the one I have?
Driving on road #80, New Zealand, near the shore of Lake Pukaki, with Mount Cook on the background
Driving on the left side of the road after you’ve been driving on the right all your life shouldn’t scare you, but you shouldn’t shrug it off either. Besides, most times it is not only a matter of driving on the other side of the road, it also about driving on the other side of the car. Here you can find my ten tips to help you with your first drive-on-left experience.
My first drive-on-the-left experience
My first drive-on-the-left experience occurred in New Zealand and I was pretty nervous about that.
First car I drove on the left hand side of the road, New Zealand.
Just after I started feeling a little confident, I had my second experience in Australia, and it was even harder than the very first one: I was given a big car (at least much bigger than the city car I used to drive in Europe), it was raining heavy, it was rush hour, I hadn’t slept the night before. But… I coped.
In fact, I coped so well that in the following years I drove an estimated 9,000 km (5500 mi) all on the wrong side of the road (while in Europe I drove on the right side of the road, ah-ah I’m such a comedian).
I have seen other people taking it much easier than me their first time, while others simply refused to seat behind the wheel on that side of the car. Some would not even bother. They will just use public service.
Nevertheless, there are some travel experiences that have a car as preferred mean of transportation. I could not imagine exploring the Australian Outback without a rented car; at least I couldn’t imagine doing that my way. The freedom way.
For anybody expecting to drive on the left for their first time, I used my personal experience to develop the following
10 tips on how to drive stress-free on the left for the first time.
1. AVOID DRIVING ON THE LEFT FOR THE FIRST TIME JUST AFTER A 24-HOUR FLIGHT. As any new thing, do that after you had a good rest. Would you drive under normal conditions while risking falling asleep or when lacking attention? Obviously not. Let alone finding yourself in such a situation the first time you drive on the left. And yet so many people do that after a long flight. It happened to me on my second left-drive experience. I had to do that to reach a motel (3 miles away or so) and I felt pretty uncomfortable. Then I slept all the afternoon. Hope you will be available to avoid those three miles.
2. CHOOSE A SMALL CAR. I can’t overstate this. You want to have a rather small car, in order to make things simpler. Easier parking, more margin of error in traffic. If you like larger cars, you can think of renting one that next time, when you’ll be more accustomed to left-hand-driving. The definition of small car is country-dependent. A small car in Australia can be a medium-size car in Ireland. It is also occupant-dependent. A family with teenager children doesn’t have the same idea of small car as a skinny 20-years-old woman has. Choose the smallest car according to your needs.
3. CHOOSE THE SAME GEAR SYSTEM YOU USE AT HOME. If it is your habit to drive a car endowed with a manual gear, go for it, and vice versa. Automatic gear is for sure simpler to operate, but I’m not sure it is the case when you’re not used to it. In my humble opinion, looking for a clutch pedal all the time (and failing in doing so) will not help your concentration behind the wheel. On the other hand, if you are, say, an American, you sure don’t want an additional new thing like changing gear manually to bother you right the moment you’re driving on the left for the first time.
4. LEARN WHO HAS PRIORITY EVEN BEFORE YOU START DRIVING. When you’re approaching a crossroad, you’d better know whether you should give way to vehicles coming from the right or to the ones from the left. Don’t take it for granted. For instance, most countries in Continental Europe drive on right and give way to those on their right, while in the UK you drive on the left, and yet you give way still on the right.
5. BUILD CONFIDENCE WITH THE CAR OFF-ROAD. That is not always possible of course. But nothing prevents you from prowling in the car rental parking lot for some time.
6. USE GPS NAVIGATION. It’s easier to have something giving you directions, instead of figuring them out yourself while you’re so busy driving on the left.
7. KEEP IN MIND THAT YOU HAVE MUCH LESS DEPTH PERCEPTION FOR CAR’S LEFT SIDE…. than the one you have for its right side when you drive sitting on the left seat. It is very easy to slam the left mirror onto another car, or tires against sidewalks while parking. All people I discussed that with reported this kind of problems from their drive-on-left experience. I got away with scratched left hubcaps a couple of times, one in Canberra and one in Brisbane. That’s another reason why a small car is better.
8. LOOK RIGHT FIRST. Pay particular attention when you enter a street from a parking lot. Our instinct is to look on the left to check for approaching cars on the side we’re coming from. It’s obviously the opposite in left-hand-driving countries when you think about it, but it’s less obvious when you’re on your first left drive and you’re under stress and everything is new and you’re operating a stick with your left hand, and you’ve checked that nobody is coming from the usual side…….. oooops! An angry Briton is honking the horn at you, who were apparently looking at the wrong side. Better repeating to yourself “Now that I’m going to enter traffic, what should I do? Looking to the right first”.
9. DRIVE ON A ROAD WITH MINOR TRAFFIC LEVELS ON YOUR FIRST DAY, IF POSSIBLE. It seems a pretty obvious tip, but it works well. Everything is much simpler if done with few to no other road users around you.
10. KEEP LEFT ON MULTI-LANE ROADS UNLESS YOU’RE OVERTAKING. Right lanes are usually for passing, therefore remember to keep left lane it if you’re slower than others.
One of New South Wales attractions is Kiama’s Blowhole.
If you are in Sydney area, in Australia, and you’d like to see a natural spectacular phenomenon, you could just drive 120 km (75 mi) south with the town of Kiama as destination.
Kiama is a small town in New South Wales, located on the Pacific Coast.
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