Passing your driving test and then moving to London is an odd thing. While I held a full licence, and still enjoyed driving when visiting the tried and tested roads of my hometown in the holidays, the thought of getting behind the driver's seat anywhere new - never mind on the right hand side of the road in a back-to-front car - was a daunting one. But when Ford invited me to spend for a weekend of relaxation in Marbella to have a go cruising along in their brand new, gorgeous Ford Puma, I couldn't say no. It was time to set aside my driving fears and take to the Spanish roads like a pro - and if I can do it, you certainly can too! Here's how to make the most of your European holiday while driving with confidence...
Refresh your skills
Beforehand, I realised that I definitely needed some help with anything that the Spanish roads might throw at me. Enlisting the RED Driving School, I decided that a refresher's lesson would be the best course of action of begin with, and spent two four-hour lessons with the lovely Francis. Talking me through the little things like keeping an eye out for cyclists every 30 seconds, and reminding me of easy lessons that I had let slide in the years of my break from driving - like dealing with spiral roundabouts - Francis reassured me that Europe would be an easy alternative to London - and that I would be driving around Spain with ease.
We went for a drive in Marbella
Driving on the motorway in Europe
Reaching the gorgeous Spanish city, where my new (beautiful) wheels were awaiting me, I was filled with new found confidence thanks to my week of driving, but was still pretty nervous. The first test was a motorway as we drove to the stunning Nobu hotel for the weekend. Very much thrown into the deep end, I took it steadily and after around five minutes, found myself enjoying the trip. The motorways were relatively quiet and very similar to English roads (except with no barrier between the roads), and so I felt at home quickly.
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Drive through the mountains for an incredible view
Switching to the right hand side of the road
Yes, the difference between driving on the left and right is initially a jarring one. Driving on the right hand side of the road seemed like such an impossible difference to the norm, but it soon felt like I'd been driving that way for years. The car certainly helped. With a visual sat nav with advice on which junction to take, complete with visual images of what signs on the road you should be driving on, most definitely kept my close-to-the-surface stress levels down.
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I most definitely got to stretch my wings during a leisurely drive through the Montes de Malaga range - a stunning drive of empty roads through the hills with a spectacular view of the stunning, sprawling city beneath me. What could be better?!
I drove the Ford Puma
What to look out for while driving in Europe
It goes without saying that your car in Europe will put your in the driver's seat on the left hand side, meaning that it is easy to veer to one side slightly as you get used to the new centre of the car. Of course, this also means that the gear stick is on the right hand side, and changing it using what feels like the wrong hand can take some getting used to. The roundabouts can also be a bit of a challenge, particularly if you have been driving for a while and are on autopilot. Stay vigilant and don't forget to got right instead of left at all times!