Travels in Spain, Driving Challenges

Small Spanish towns can be quite charming but sometimes they can present a serious driving challenge.

One time we were in the town of Carmona in Andalucia and arriving at night time were looking for our hotel. I took the correct turning through an imposing medieval fortress gate and into a labyrinth of confusing narrow streets.

This was a big mistake because the road climbed up a narrow cobbled street barely wide enough for the car to pass and then seemed to abruptly stop at what looked like a pedestrian alleyway. There was an elderly Spanish couple out strolling so we asked for help and after they had studied the map seemed to suggest to us that we should carry on down this narrow path. We were not convinced and asked for clarification and the man, who spoke no English and was not terribly useful, was determined not to let his wife, who could speak a little English and was a lot more helpful, have her turn with the map.

Anyway, while we were debating the situation another car pulled up behind and seemed to be heading in the direction of the alleyway so this was a clue that that was indeed the correct way to go. As we pulled away the woman looked into the car and in a genuinely caring sort of way said ‘Be careful, good luck’ and this parting comment filled my cup of confidence full to the brim.

We set off and it soon became clear why we needed both precision and good fortune because if we had thought that the previous street had been narrow this one made it look like a six lane highway! First of all it was necessary to negotiate a dog leg gate that was barely wider than the car and we all had to collectively breathe in so that we could squeeze through and after that the street narrowed down still further and I needed keyhole surgery skills to manoeuvre through 90º bends and past carelessly parked cars and iron bollards strategically placed to impede at every turn.

Going forward was tricky and we were making slow progress but what really concerned me was the possibility of reaching a dead end and having to reverse all the way back because that would have been impossible. Finally however we came out into a square (that was actually a circle) and by luck we had found our hotel.

I returned the next morning to take these pictures.

26 responses to “Travels in Spain, Driving Challenges

  1. Well they drive on the wrong side of the road for starters.and as for cobblestoned streets; thank you I’ll stick to bitumen or concrete, preferably bitumen

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  2. Reminds me of a nice little place we found in Cyprus, thankfully I was driving, after many years in the motor trade its amazing where I can put a vehicle 🙂

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  3. You did well to get there! Hopefully, there was a way out as well!

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  4. Yikes! I remember doing similar in Italy….Romania and Cuba were challenging for entirely different reasons!

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  5. oh, my – glad you made it!

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  6. Aargh! Well done for manoeuvring that. I remember John following the satnav into a narrow lane in Orkney with me screaming Nooooo! At least it was straight, but if the car had broken down we wouldn’t have been able to open the doors to get out. Then there was a sandwich board partially blocking the exit which had to be knocked out of the way. Fortunately it was dark and it belonged to a pub which was too noisy to notice.

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  7. Oh my gosh! I would’ve had to abandon the car and hike out.

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  8. This has happened to us a few times and once we did hit a dead end and had to back out! Hubby was a long distance truck driver at one time and can usually manoeuvre any road but I must admit he became a bit unglued at that point. I was just looking for a shoe store in a small place I had heard about. I wasn’t very popular for a few minutes. We found the store eventually and I bought a pair of smashing shoes so alls well that ends well.

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  9. Peggy loves to tell tails of narrow European city roads in her life before me. Her adventures sound a lot like yours, Andrew. Once she was driving down a narrow road in a VW van, and found her route easier after she had knocked off her mirrors! But just barely. –Curt

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  10. Sounds daunting, but not as much as Colorado’s mountain roads that are the width of 1.5 cars but hold two-way traffic. To clarify, mountain face on one side, and 2000 ft drop on the other.

    . . . If have worried if they’d been 3000 ft drops.

    By order of my better half, we’re never to go on any of those types of roads ever again.

    And, again, Italy’s roads were a pleasure to drive. Except around Rome . . . The pope is a lousy driver and it’s just not safe when he’s about.

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    • “Flaming like a meteor we hit the coast, a road, high, high above the blue
      sea, that hooked and corkscrewed on the edge of nothing, a road carefully
      designed to be a little narrower than two cars side by side.” – John Steinbeck

      I have vowed never to drive in Italy ever again!

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