When I was 19, I learned how to drive a stick shift in Naples, Italy, which I’m pretty sure is the crazy driver capital of the world. There are no rules of the road. I mean, of course, there are rules, but it’s seemingly completely optional whether or not locals choose to follow them.

When you pull up to a red light at an intersection, everybody just sort of crowds around each other until there is no line at all — it’s just one big clump of cars. When the light turns green, everyone lays on their horn. No matter what. It’s basically a free for all.

Red lights are just suggestions. As I learned the hard way, you always, always need to look both ways before cruising through your green light.

Once, as my boyfriend at the time drove through a green light, I saw someone driving at full speed through their red light and right in to us. Nobody was seriously hurt, but it made me a very alert, very paranoid driver. That lifeless metal crushing sound is one that stays with you forever.

Heading to England after Italy was a refreshing change, as far as driving goes. But getting there was a bit more complicated than I had planned; this was before smartphones. I had a map and a plan to drive straight up through Italy, then through Switzerland and France, maybe stopping to have coffee in Paris before jumping on the channel ferry to England. I had the route marked up on both my map and in a notebook with directions. It was a gorgeous drive from the bottom of the boot to the top, especially after the Alps started showing.

It wasn’t until I passed through my first border and was in a tunnel deep in the mountains making my way to Switzerland that I borderline freaked out, passing under a beautiful sign in the tunnel that said, “Welcome to France.”

I had to pull over after the mountain tunnel drive to figure out what the hell I was doing and how I was going to get to the channel crossing.

One thing that would have been useful back then is Waze, a great community-based app for everyone to share road conditions or map out their routes. Sometimes, it’s not the best idea to take Nimitz, and you need to know that well before the next traffic update. Waze is great for that. Users can share hazards and road blocks that they encounter.

It was a trek, but once I got to England, it was amazing. There are hardly any stop-lights, just roundabouts. If nobody is around, you basically get to just keep going. Forever.

The best part of driving anywhere in Europe is the speed limit. It’s also merely a suggestion. You could be cruising along in the middle lane of any road and notice a speck in your rear-view mirror that very quickly becomes a flash of color passing by you at a speed so fast you can’t even tell what kind of sports car it was.

They love their sports cars in Europe. I was lucky enough to buy a BMW M3 (pictured above) from my Italian co-worker before I moved and had it for the rest of my time living abroad. That baby did me good. BMWs love to drive fast.

Because Waze updates are community based, they are not always accurate and shouldn’t be relied upon.

The app definitely beats drowning in maps and notebooks when you’re trying to get from point A to point B, though. You guys don’t know how lucky you have it.


Christa Wittmier is “SUPERCW” on all social media. Find her on Snapchat, Soundcloud, Twitter, Vine and Insta-gram. By night, she is known as DJ SuperCW. By day, she is known as senior marketing director for Young’s Market Company of Hawaii. Her nightlife blog SuperCity runs every Wednesday on HonoluluPulse.com