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Re: [S-R] driving in Slovakia

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  • Caye Caswick
    Do you need to get an International drivers license?  AAA sells them -- no need to be a member, I recommend you get one.  What about special insurance?
    Message 1 of 14 , Apr 7 8:52 AM
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      Do you need to get an International drivers license?  AAA sells them -- no need to be a member, I recommend you get one.
       What about special insurance?  Speak to your insurance company about this -- however, the rental company will GLADLY sell you insurance, but you might be covered already, so call your auto insurance company HERE first.
      If you are making your own travel arrangements where and how do you rent a car?  I used HERTZ at the Vienna Airport -- but there are lots of companies that rent vehicles -- you likely will receive a stick shift, no matter what you reserve -- so don't have your heart set on one particular thing, just take the care they issue and enjoy.

      Is it difficult to reserve a car, by this I mean are the numbers of vehicles for rent limited?  Not so limited in number, but limited in what they'll grant -- so you can ask for moon, stars, sun -- and only get a car -- learn to shift -- nearly all of their vehicles are manual transmission -- nothing difficult, but that's just the way it is.

      --- On Wed, 4/7/10, sharond <SDinthevalley@...> wrote:

      From: sharond <SDinthevalley@...>
      Subject: [S-R] driving in Slovakia
      To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 10:36 AM
















       









      I know this has been discussed many times however, I would like to know a few more things about driving in Slovakia. Do you need to get an International drivers license? What about special insurance? If you are making your own travel arrangements where and how do you rent a car?

      Is it difficult to reserve a car, by this I mean are the numbers of vehicles for rent limited?

      After driving in Slovakia you then decide you want to go to Prague, do you continue to drive? I would think driving into Prague would be a crazy idea. Any suggestions?






























      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Michael Mojher
      I concur with most of what Caye had to say. I have made six trips to Slovakia and have had a wide range of rental experiences. I didn t see where you are
      Message 2 of 14 , Apr 7 10:00 AM
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        I concur with most of what Caye had to say. I have made six trips to Slovakia and have had a wide range of rental experiences.
        I didn't see where you are flying into. That can make a difference. My destination is usually eastern Slovakia. There the rentals can be 30 to 50% less than in Vienna or Bratislava.
        The big name rental companies are generally going to be the most expensive. I am fortunate because I do have relatives in eastern Slovakia and they directed me to local rental companies. Often it is just a guy with no more than six cars. But on my last trip one of these companies had a wonderful vehicle that had automatic and air conditioning.
        These local companies often have websites now. So it is worth doing a search.
        Personally, International Driver Licenses are a rip-off. You take no test. You pay your money and get them. It is "cheap insurance" of sorts. But whenever I was asked for a driver's license they wanted to see the "real one".
        Depending on where you plan on driving it can be worth while to also rent a GPS system. Generally, in the countryside it is not too difficult to get around. But this is a country of nearly 3000 towns and villages. So the roads are numerous and often unmarked. Large cities are harder because the street signs are usually on the side of buildings and get lost in the clutter of other signs. Or are so small that they can be difficult to read.


        From: Caye Caswick
        Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2010 8:52 AM
        To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [S-R] driving in Slovakia




        Do you need to get an International drivers license? AAA sells them -- no need to be a member, I recommend you get one.
        What about special insurance? Speak to your insurance company about this -- however, the rental company will GLADLY sell you insurance, but you might be covered already, so call your auto insurance company HERE first.
        If you are making your own travel arrangements where and how do you rent a car? I used HERTZ at the Vienna Airport -- but there are lots of companies that rent vehicles -- you likely will receive a stick shift, no matter what you reserve -- so don't have your heart set on one particular thing, just take the care they issue and enjoy.

        Is it difficult to reserve a car, by this I mean are the numbers of vehicles for rent limited? Not so limited in number, but limited in what they'll grant -- so you can ask for moon, stars, sun -- and only get a car -- learn to shift -- nearly all of their vehicles are manual transmission -- nothing difficult, but that's just the way it is.

        --- On Wed, 4/7/10, sharond <SDinthevalley@...> wrote:

        From: sharond <SDinthevalley@...>
        Subject: [S-R] driving in Slovakia
        To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 10:36 AM



        I know this has been discussed many times however, I would like to know a few more things about driving in Slovakia. Do you need to get an International drivers license? What about special insurance? If you are making your own travel arrangements where and how do you rent a car?

        Is it difficult to reserve a car, by this I mean are the numbers of vehicles for rent limited?

        After driving in Slovakia you then decide you want to go to Prague, do you continue to drive? I would think driving into Prague would be a crazy idea. Any suggestions?

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • helene cincebeaux
        HI Sharon, one important thing if you return the car to a different place than you rented it from there are really big surcharges. helene
        Message 3 of 14 , Apr 7 11:37 AM
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          HI Sharon,

          one important thing if you return the car to a different place than you rented it from there are really big surcharges.

          helene




          ________________________________
          From: sharond <SDinthevalley@...>
          To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Wed, April 7, 2010 11:36:09 AM
          Subject: [S-R] driving in Slovakia

           
          I know this has been discussed many times however, I would like to know a few more things about driving in Slovakia. Do you need to get an International drivers license? What about special insurance? If you are making your own travel arrangements where and how do you rent a car?
          Is it difficult to reserve a car, by this I mean are the numbers of vehicles for rent limited?
          After driving in Slovakia you then decide you want to go to Prague, do you continue to drive? I would think driving into Prague would be a crazy idea. Any suggestions?







          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Michael Mojher
          Prague Michelin Trip Planner: From Bratislava to Prague is 338 km / 203 miles. 3 hours and 13 minutes of driving. Cost: 44.20 Euros; Petrol 30.93 Euros and
          Message 4 of 14 , Apr 7 12:11 PM
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            Prague
            Michelin Trip Planner: From Bratislava to Prague is 338 km / 203 miles. 3 hours and 13 minutes of driving. Cost: 44.20 Euros; Petrol 30.93 Euros and Road Tax of 13.27 Euros. The vast majority of it on good highways.
            With the new open borders going from one EU country into another is no different than going from one state here to another. Sometime car rental companies do have restrictions. I have not found any that would let me take their car into the Ukraine.
            Cars
            Compacts are the standard car. Which in large cities you can be thankful for since the streets are often very much narrower. The downside is dependent on the size of your party. Compacts can be overfilled with three adults and their luggage. Sixt Rental at Bratislava Airport for two weeks in June charges $1260 for a compact and $1807 for a mid-size (VW Passat). The other "sticker shock" is the petrol. On my last trip it was just under the equivalent of $8 a gallon. The Michelin trip planner said the the Bratislava to Prague 203 mile trip would cost $43.40 in petrol. That is a little over 21 cents per mile. That gives you an idea of what that cost can be. Thankfully, Slovakia is a small country and you can go a long ways on a tank of gas.
            So depending on how adventurous you are and what your budget will allow you can drive anywhere the rental company will allow you. Budapest, Vienna, Warsaw and Prague are all relatively easy drives.


            From: sharond
            Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2010 8:36 AM
            To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [S-R] driving in Slovakia



            I know this has been discussed many times however, I would like to know a few more things about driving in Slovakia. Do you need to get an International drivers license? What about special insurance? If you are making your own travel arrangements where and how do you rent a car?
            Is it difficult to reserve a car, by this I mean are the numbers of vehicles for rent limited?
            After driving in Slovakia you then decide you want to go to Prague, do you continue to drive? I would think driving into Prague would be a crazy idea. Any suggestions?





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Ron
            Lots of good advice and opinions. I see an international drivers license as a waste of time and money. I was never asked for one in 10 years - and I had one
            Message 5 of 14 , Apr 7 3:00 PM
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              Lots of good advice and opinions. I see an international drivers license as a waste of time and money. I was never asked for one in 10 years - and I had one fora single year of that. Otherwise police and border people were content with the standard US license - which, by the way, you must have along with your international license.

              I have had my best luck booking a car on line before I went. Check not just your standard US insurance but your Visa card, often both offer some coverage on rentals, up to 3 weeks, where you don't have ot buy the supplemental insurance. Talk to your insurance agency.

              Oh, don't forget you need vignettes - freeway stickers - to allow you to drive in SK & CZ, one for each. The SK should come with an SK rental, and if you ask it may come with CZ as well. I believe they sell them for various periods of time as well as annually. If you get stopped without one or for any other reason, roadside fines are possible. Just ask for your receipts on the spot, that is to keep the cops honest. They will look pretty funky, so don't be surprised at him ripping them off of a pad of cheap printed paper.

              Get to know the road signs and speed limits ahead of time. Prague to Stara Lubovna was a hard 10 hour drive or 12 hours with reasonable breaks and skipping a lot of beautiful places in between. Consider making it a part of the tour with stops here & there. Look for a place to stay on the outside of Prague, it is a terrible city to drive in and worse to find a place to park. They have great subway, streetcar & bus connections.
            • Gloria
              I thought I told you about car rental with Cimcak car rental out of Kosice. He has a web site. Lower than the others. No international license is needed for
              Message 6 of 14 , Apr 7 4:18 PM
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                I thought I told you about car rental with Cimcak car rental out of Kosice. He has a web site. Lower than the others.
                No international license is needed for SK or poland. We were there in Oct.09. His cars have GPS and radio. He will meet you at the
                airport. Pick you up at your hotel in Kosice or leave car at hotel when finished. Roads are good in SK. Better than South Carolina at the moment.

                Gloria Kurbanick

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              • helene cincebeaux
                one thing that doesn t get factored in - Prague is huge and the highway goes right thru the city and skirts the national museum, there is just a lot of traffic
                Message 7 of 14 , Apr 7 5:27 PM
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                  one thing that doesn't get factored in - Prague is huge and the highway goes right thru the city and skirts the national museum, there is just a lot of traffic all the time

                  so travel calculations can give you the time from place to place but add in another hour to get in or out of prague.

                  sometimes it seems impossible to get from one street to another due to one ways or  somehow you end up on a highway.

                  the thing we most laugh at is they mark a turn differently than we do - sometimes way ahead and some times right on top of it.  We usually end up turning around and going back to get it right the second time.

                  don't think either country has right on red.

                  I was taught there to use signals when passing - even if only a bicyclist.

                  sometimes, surprise, someone passes you on the right - and they have never heard of defensive driving. Used to go too fast thru villages but new speed limits help there.

                  helene




                  ________________________________
                  From: Michael Mojher <mgmojher@...>
                  To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Wed, April 7, 2010 3:11:01 PM
                  Subject: Re: [S-R] driving in Slovakia

                   
                  Prague
                  Michelin Trip Planner: From Bratislava to Prague is 338 km / 203 miles. 3 hours and 13 minutes of driving. Cost: 44.20 Euros; Petrol 30.93 Euros and Road Tax of 13.27 Euros. The vast majority of it on good highways.
                  With the new open borders going from one EU country into another is no different than going from one state here to another. Sometime car rental companies do have restrictions. I have not found any that would let me take their car into the Ukraine.
                  Cars
                  Compacts are the standard car. Which in large cities you can be thankful for since the streets are often very much narrower. The downside is dependent on the size of your party. Compacts can be overfilled with three adults and their luggage. Sixt Rental at Bratislava Airport for two weeks in June charges $1260 for a compact and $1807 for a mid-size (VW Passat). The other "sticker shock" is the petrol. On my last trip it was just under the equivalent of $8 a gallon. The Michelin trip planner said the the Bratislava to Prague 203 mile trip would cost $43.40 in petrol. That is a little over 21 cents per mile. That gives you an idea of what that cost can be. Thankfully, Slovakia is a small country and you can go a long ways on a tank of gas.
                  So depending on how adventurous you are and what your budget will allow you can drive anywhere the rental company will allow you. Budapest, Vienna, Warsaw and Prague are all relatively easy drives.

                  From: sharond
                  Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2010 8:36 AM
                  To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@ yahoogroups. com
                  Subject: [S-R] driving in Slovakia

                  I know this has been discussed many times however, I would like to know a few more things about driving in Slovakia. Do you need to get an International drivers license? What about special insurance? If you are making your own travel arrangements where and how do you rent a car?
                  Is it difficult to reserve a car, by this I mean are the numbers of vehicles for rent limited?
                  After driving in Slovakia you then decide you want to go to Prague, do you continue to drive? I would think driving into Prague would be a crazy idea. Any suggestions?

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]







                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Michael Mojher
                  Turn signals. American s are notoriously bad at using them. In Slovakia they them for every maneuver other than going straight. Even if you are on the road
                  Message 8 of 14 , Apr 7 5:59 PM
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                    Turn signals.
                    American's are notoriously bad at using them. In Slovakia they them for every maneuver other than going straight. Even if you are on the road that has the right of way and you come to a "Y" intersection. You are suppose to signal if you are taking the left of right, be the right of way road or not. Basically, when in doubt - signal your intention. After spending month long trips to Slovakia my signaling has become automatic, even back home.
                    Not using your turn signal can get you pulled over in Slovakia.
                    There are also road side check points in Slovakia. If you are signaled to pull-over do so. There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving.


                    From: helene cincebeaux
                    Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2010 5:27 PM
                    To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: Re: [S-R] driving in Slovakia



                    one thing that doesn't get factored in - Prague is huge and the highway goes right thru the city and skirts the national museum, there is just a lot of traffic all the time

                    so travel calculations can give you the time from place to place but add in another hour to get in or out of prague.

                    sometimes it seems impossible to get from one street to another due to one ways or somehow you end up on a highway.

                    the thing we most laugh at is they mark a turn differently than we do - sometimes way ahead and some times right on top of it. We usually end up turning around and going back to get it right the second time.

                    don't think either country has right on red.

                    I was taught there to use signals when passing - even if only a bicyclist.

                    sometimes, surprise, someone passes you on the right - and they have never heard of defensive driving. Used to go too fast thru villages but new speed limits help there.

                    helene

                    ________________________________
                    From: Michael Mojher <mgmojher@...>
                    To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Wed, April 7, 2010 3:11:01 PM
                    Subject: Re: [S-R] driving in Slovakia


                    Prague
                    Michelin Trip Planner: From Bratislava to Prague is 338 km / 203 miles. 3 hours and 13 minutes of driving. Cost: 44.20 Euros; Petrol 30.93 Euros and Road Tax of 13.27 Euros. The vast majority of it on good highways.
                    With the new open borders going from one EU country into another is no different than going from one state here to another. Sometime car rental companies do have restrictions. I have not found any that would let me take their car into the Ukraine.
                    Cars
                    Compacts are the standard car. Which in large cities you can be thankful for since the streets are often very much narrower. The downside is dependent on the size of your party. Compacts can be overfilled with three adults and their luggage. Sixt Rental at Bratislava Airport for two weeks in June charges $1260 for a compact and $1807 for a mid-size (VW Passat). The other "sticker shock" is the petrol. On my last trip it was just under the equivalent of $8 a gallon. The Michelin trip planner said the the Bratislava to Prague 203 mile trip would cost $43.40 in petrol. That is a little over 21 cents per mile. That gives you an idea of what that cost can be. Thankfully, Slovakia is a small country and you can go a long ways on a tank of gas.
                    So depending on how adventurous you are and what your budget will allow you can drive anywhere the rental company will allow you. Budapest, Vienna, Warsaw and Prague are all relatively easy drives.

                    From: sharond
                    Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2010 8:36 AM
                    To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@ yahoogroups. com
                    Subject: [S-R] driving in Slovakia

                    I know this has been discussed many times however, I would like to know a few more things about driving in Slovakia. Do you need to get an International drivers license? What about special insurance? If you are making your own travel arrangements where and how do you rent a car?
                    Is it difficult to reserve a car, by this I mean are the numbers of vehicles for rent limited?
                    After driving in Slovakia you then decide you want to go to Prague, do you continue to drive? I would think driving into Prague would be a crazy idea. Any suggestions?

                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Vladimir Linder
                    For years I have been renting from: ADVANTAGE CAR RENTALS www.acr.sk email:office@acr.sk Call Milan Mjartan at: 011-421-2-62410-510 or cell:011-421-903-460-605
                    Message 9 of 14 , Apr 7 6:06 PM
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                      For years I have been renting from:

                      ADVANTAGE CAR RENTALS

                      www.acr.sk


                      email:office@...

                      Call Milan Mjartan at: 011-421-2-62410-510

                      or cell:011-421-903-460-605

                      Great deals, great cars, great service

                      Vlad
                    • Cathie McAdams
                      The benefit from the International Driver License is the translation.  We rented at Eurocar in Kosice and that attendant used it even though he was fluent
                      Message 10 of 14 , Apr 8 3:01 AM
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                        The benefit from the International Driver License is the translation.  We rented at Eurocar in Kosice and that attendant used it even though he was fluent in spoken English.  Our rental was about $37.00/day.  Make sure you get at least the liability coverage. 

                        If you are driving in a country other than Slovakia, you should get the road permit for the other country(ies) that you are planning to see.  That will allow you to purchase gasoline.  However, we bought gas in northern Hungary and no one asked to see our permit.  It also gives you the liability coverage in that country.

                        Always, always, turn your headlights on, no matter the time of day.  It is their law.  But you would think that the rental companies, knowing this, would wire the car so the headlights come on when the engine is on.  Also, the headlights do not turn off by themselves like the newer cars here.  We had a mid-size newer Skoda in June.  This was not the law in 2006.




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                      • Paul Guzowski
                        Sharon et al, I have been working on a rather longish paper with tips on travel to/from and around Slovakia but have not quite finished it yet. That said, I
                        Message 11 of 14 , Apr 8 5:44 AM
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                          Sharon et al,

                          I have been working on a rather longish paper with tips on travel
                          to/from and around Slovakia but have not quite finished it yet. That
                          said, I decided to post the portion I wrote on driving in Europe in
                          general and, more specifically, in Slovakia and its immediate neighbors.
                          What I say is based on living/working nearly 20 years in Europe, the
                          last two of which were in Bratislava, SK. I believe the following to be
                          factual unless I state it as my opinion.

                          I had a company rental car while I was in Bratislava but only drove it
                          to/from work and if I needed to travel outside the city. This was for a
                          couple of reasons. Parking in Bratislava is problematic, navigating the
                          city was not easy due to many one-way and some pedestrian-only ones, and
                          lastly because fuel is so expensive there. As of this writing, a gallon
                          of unleaded regular will set you back about $6.50 and a gallon of diesel
                          will be a little less. Normally, if I needed to go somewhere in the
                          city, I either walked or took the tram or bus.

                          The public transportation is inexpensive and reliable. If you will only
                          be in Bratislava for a few days or up to a week, the Bratislava City
                          Card (€8 for 3 days or €12 for 7 days) is a very good deal. It offers
                          unlimited travel on Bratislava's public transportation and you can read
                          more about it here:
                          (http://www.bratislavaguide.com/public-transport-bratislava). Taxis are
                          also abundant and reasonably priced so I occasionally used one to go
                          to/from a company dinner if the public transportation did not stop
                          nearby, especially if I wanted to drink a beer or glass of wine with my
                          dinner.

                          Traveling outside Brastislava is easiest by train, in my opinion. The
                          trains are clean, comfortable, fast, and run on schedule. Additionally,
                          they generally take you from city center to city center which is very
                          convenient for the average tourist.

                          Renting a car in Europe is not difficult but there are a few things to
                          watch out for that are different from what you may be used to in the US
                          or Canada. To begin with, rates will generally be higher and will be out
                          of sight if you want to rent one place and drop off in another. I had a
                          friend who rented a car in Budapest and after a couple of weeks of
                          driving dropped it off at the Vienna International Airport and the
                          drop-off charge was a couple of hundred dollars.

                          If you do rent a car in Europe, be sure to take the collision damage
                          waiver insurance even though it costs a bit more. The European auto
                          rental agencies inspect their cars before and after rental with a fine
                          tooth comb and if they find some scratch or dent even if it is minor you
                          will be billed. And while we are talking about the insurance, be sure to
                          read the small print of the international insurance green card and the
                          rental agreement. Many rental agencies restrict into which countries you
                          can drive the car. This is based on historical accident and theft
                          rates.

                          When you rent a car in Europe, expect to get a standard transmission and
                          don't be surprised if the car does not have air conditioning. I would
                          recommend a diesel if you can get it because they have much lower fuel
                          consumption and the fuel is cheaper than gasoline.

                          In my six years in eastern/central Europe, we had a couple of rental
                          cars stolen. Even though most cars have alarms, I'd suggest buying a
                          steering wheel blocking device. You will see them in most cars and cars
                          without them are easier targets for thieves. Also, NEVER EVER leave the
                          car unlocked for a moment, even at a petrol station or in a car park
                          while you are putting things in the trunk. One of my colleagues was
                          marked leaving the bank and when he got to the parking lot one thief let
                          air out of his tire and while my colleague was checking it out, the
                          other one stole valuables from the car.

                          Never anything of value visible in the car for any period of time and
                          don't leave anything of value anywhere in the car overnight. One of my
                          Slovak colleagues left his backpack in the trunk of locked car in a
                          parking garage while he ran into the mall to the ATM. When he got back,
                          the backpack with his expensive camera and laptop in it was gone. In
                          another case, our team had been traveling across Slovakia on a long trip
                          and they stopped for dinner at a restaurant. The left their briefcases
                          in the locked trunk and when they got back to the car after dinner all
                          of the cases were gone along with the five company laptop computers they
                          were carrying.

                          If you will be driving in Slovakia, your US driving license is valid but
                          in some other countries you need to have an international driving
                          permit. Austria is such a country and if you are stopped for even a
                          minor infraction on Austria's roads and you don't have an EU driving
                          license or international driving permit, the fine is €500. It is worth
                          $15 to get an international driving permit (a translation of your US
                          license) from the local AAA office before you depart the US if you will
                          be driving in Europe.

                          I would also encourage anyone who wishes to drive in Europe to study the
                          signs and road regulations very carefully. This includes the default
                          speed limits which are something we in the US are not normally familiar
                          with. When I was in Slovakia, the default speed limits unless otherwise
                          posted were 60kph (36 mph) within city limits (denoted by the city limit
                          signs entering and exiting the town), 90 kph (55 mph) on two lane roads
                          outside city limits, and 130kph (80mph) on divided motorways. Of course,
                          any posted limit takes precedence over the defaults. Some other
                          considerations are in the following paragraphs.

                          Talking on a mobile phone while driving is strictly forbidden and while
                          you may see it happening the ban is strictly enforced. Wearing seat
                          belts is required for all occupants of the vehicle, too. Drivers must
                          carry a reflective vest in the car and must wear it if stopped on the
                          shoulder to change a tire or carry out any other actions.

                          Many European countries now require cars to have lights on during
                          daylight hours. This varies by country so it is best to do your homework
                          for the countries in which you will drive. For example, in Hungary you
                          have to have your lights on whenever you leave the city limits during
                          all times of the year. In Slovakia, between 15 October and 15 March, you
                          must have your lights on at all times regardless of the time of day.
                          This is easy to forget when the sun is shining in the middle of the day.
                          I was stopped twice when I forgot to turn my lights back on after
                          leaving a petrol station.

                          There is virtually no such thing as a four-way stop in Europe. Most
                          intersections will be controlled in one direction or the other and the
                          priority road always has the right of way. At uncontrolled
                          intersections, the driver on the right has the right of way as does the
                          driver on your right on a multi-lane highway if he/she wants to move
                          left. Additionally, while they are slowly starting to appear in the US,
                          most Americans will be surprised by the number of traffic circles and/or
                          roundabouts in Europe. There are special right-of-way rules for
                          roundabouts and you can read more about them here:
                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundabout

                          In Europe, the left lane (right lane in UK) on a divided highway is for
                          passing only. The American habit of cruising in the left lane is
                          illegal, is not tolerated, and you will be fined. You must always drive
                          as far right as you can if the lane to the right is clear regardless of
                          how fast you are driving. This helps keep traffic moving since it is
                          strictly forbidden to pass any vehicle on the right.

                          Police procedures in several European countries allows for “spot fines”
                          for smaller infractions of the traffic code. This is true in Slovakia so
                          it is always good to have at least €40 with you to avoid the hassle of
                          following up on a traffic violation later. If you pay one, make sure you
                          get a receipt. The idea of trying to talk your way out of a fine is not
                          normal in Europe and it could even exacerbate your situation so I would
                          recommend against it. When I first got to Central Europe in 2001, I
                          heard stories about putting some money in your driving license when you
                          hand it over to the policeman so that he would overlook your infraction.
                          This practice may have been prevalent and perhaps even tolerated in
                          former times but is not tolerated in the European Union. There are
                          anti-corruption agents monitoring for this and you may even face
                          allegations of bribery.

                          In many countries in Europe, travel on the motorways is not free. In
                          France and Italy one stops periodically to pay a toll but in other
                          countries you have to buy a toll sticker called a “vignette” in
                          many/most non-English speaking European countries. This is true for
                          Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. In Slovakia, these
                          toll stickers which are required for the use of the motorways, are
                          available in several categories depending on the vehicle's weight. They
                          can be purchased for one year, one week, and one month with prices as
                          follows for vehicles under 3.5 tons:

                          Annual: €36.50

                          One Month: €09.90

                          One Week: €04.90

                          Finally, tolerance for drinking and driving is more strict than it is in
                          the US and it varies by country
                          (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drunk_driving_law_by_country). In Slovakia
                          and Hungary, there is zero tolerance while Austria allows up to 0.05%
                          for experienced drivers. In six years in central Europe I encountered a
                          number of sobriety checkpoints where I was required to take a
                          breathalyzer test even though I had committed no infraction. One time,
                          my car was hit in a parking lot accident while I was in a business
                          meeting during my time in Bratislava. When I arrived on the scene, the
                          police required me to take a breathalyzer test even though I was nowhere
                          near the car at the time of the accident. When I questioned this, I was
                          told it was standard procedure. Therefore, I highly recommend public
                          transportation or a taxi if you will be enjoying Slovakia's wonderful
                          beers and wines while dining and you don't have a designated driver.

                          As for driving to Prague, I'd personally recommend taking the train
                          instead. It is fast, cheap, and worry free. Driving back and forth on
                          the motorway is not such a big deal but navigating around in the city
                          and finding a safe place to park the car is a headache. Once in the
                          Prague, the public transportation is cheap and can get you anywhere you
                          want to go in the city as a tourist.

                          I hope this information will be useful to someone. I know it has been a
                          long post but I wanted to get a few things out to the group, especially
                          the point about International Driving Permits being required to drive in
                          Austria. I will try to finish up the rest of my tips and will save the
                          file to the group's file space when I do.

                          Paul in NW Florida
                        • m ivanov
                          I am going to Slovakia this summer and your information is wonderful. Thank you for sharing with me. ________________________________ From: Paul Guzowski
                          Message 12 of 14 , Apr 8 8:19 AM
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                            I am going to Slovakia this summer and your information is wonderful. Thank you for sharing with me.




                            ________________________________
                            From: Paul Guzowski <guzowskip@...>
                            To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Thu, April 8, 2010 8:44:19 AM
                            Subject: [S-R] Re:driving in Slovakia

                             
                            Sharon et al,

                            I have been working on a rather longish paper with tips on travel
                            to/from and around Slovakia but have not quite finished it yet. That
                            said, I decided to post the portion I wrote on driving in Europe in
                            general and, more specifically, in Slovakia and its immediate neighbors.
                            What I say is based on living/working nearly 20 years in Europe, the
                            last two of which were in Bratislava, SK. I believe the following to be
                            factual unless I state it as my opinion.

                            I had a company rental car while I was in Bratislava but only drove it
                            to/from work and if I needed to travel outside the city. This was for a
                            couple of reasons. Parking in Bratislava is problematic, navigating the
                            city was not easy due to many one-way and some pedestrian-only ones, and
                            lastly because fuel is so expensive there. As of this writing, a gallon
                            of unleaded regular will set you back about $6.50 and a gallon of diesel
                            will be a little less. Normally, if I needed to go somewhere in the
                            city, I either walked or took the tram or bus.

                            The public transportation is inexpensive and reliable. If you will only
                            be in Bratislava for a few days or up to a week, the Bratislava City
                            Card (€8 for 3 days or €12 for 7 days) is a very good deal. It offers
                            unlimited travel on Bratislava's public transportation and you can read
                            more about it here:
                            (http://www.bratisla vaguide.com/ public-transport -bratislava). Taxis are
                            also abundant and reasonably priced so I occasionally used one to go
                            to/from a company dinner if the public transportation did not stop
                            nearby, especially if I wanted to drink a beer or glass of wine with my
                            dinner.

                            Traveling outside Brastislava is easiest by train, in my opinion. The
                            trains are clean, comfortable, fast, and run on schedule. Additionally,
                            they generally take you from city center to city center which is very
                            convenient for the average tourist.

                            Renting a car in Europe is not difficult but there are a few things to
                            watch out for that are different from what you may be used to in the US
                            or Canada. To begin with, rates will generally be higher and will be out
                            of sight if you want to rent one place and drop off in another. I had a
                            friend who rented a car in Budapest and after a couple of weeks of
                            driving dropped it off at the Vienna International Airport and the
                            drop-off charge was a couple of hundred dollars.

                            If you do rent a car in Europe, be sure to take the collision damage
                            waiver insurance even though it costs a bit more. The European auto
                            rental agencies inspect their cars before and after rental with a fine
                            tooth comb and if they find some scratch or dent even if it is minor you
                            will be billed. And while we are talking about the insurance, be sure to
                            read the small print of the international insurance green card and the
                            rental agreement. Many rental agencies restrict into which countries you
                            can drive the car. This is based on historical accident and theft
                            rates.

                            When you rent a car in Europe, expect to get a standard transmission and
                            don't be surprised if the car does not have air conditioning. I would
                            recommend a diesel if you can get it because they have much lower fuel
                            consumption and the fuel is cheaper than gasoline.

                            In my six years in eastern/central Europe, we had a couple of rental
                            cars stolen. Even though most cars have alarms, I'd suggest buying a
                            steering wheel blocking device. You will see them in most cars and cars
                            without them are easier targets for thieves. Also, NEVER EVER leave the
                            car unlocked for a moment, even at a petrol station or in a car park
                            while you are putting things in the trunk. One of my colleagues was
                            marked leaving the bank and when he got to the parking lot one thief let
                            air out of his tire and while my colleague was checking it out, the
                            other one stole valuables from the car.

                            Never anything of value visible in the car for any period of time and
                            don't leave anything of value anywhere in the car overnight. One of my
                            Slovak colleagues left his backpack in the trunk of locked car in a
                            parking garage while he ran into the mall to the ATM. When he got back,
                            the backpack with his expensive camera and laptop in it was gone. In
                            another case, our team had been traveling across Slovakia on a long trip
                            and they stopped for dinner at a restaurant. The left their briefcases
                            in the locked trunk and when they got back to the car after dinner all
                            of the cases were gone along with the five company laptop computers they
                            were carrying.

                            If you will be driving in Slovakia, your US driving license is valid but
                            in some other countries you need to have an international driving
                            permit. Austria is such a country and if you are stopped for even a
                            minor infraction on Austria's roads and you don't have an EU driving
                            license or international driving permit, the fine is €500. It is worth
                            $15 to get an international driving permit (a translation of your US
                            license) from the local AAA office before you depart the US if you will
                            be driving in Europe.

                            I would also encourage anyone who wishes to drive in Europe to study the
                            signs and road regulations very carefully. This includes the default
                            speed limits which are something we in the US are not normally familiar
                            with. When I was in Slovakia, the default speed limits unless otherwise
                            posted were 60kph (36 mph) within city limits (denoted by the city limit
                            signs entering and exiting the town), 90 kph (55 mph) on two lane roads
                            outside city limits, and 130kph (80mph) on divided motorways. Of course,
                            any posted limit takes precedence over the defaults. Some other
                            considerations are in the following paragraphs.

                            Talking on a mobile phone while driving is strictly forbidden and while
                            you may see it happening the ban is strictly enforced. Wearing seat
                            belts is required for all occupants of the vehicle, too. Drivers must
                            carry a reflective vest in the car and must wear it if stopped on the
                            shoulder to change a tire or carry out any other actions.

                            Many European countries now require cars to have lights on during
                            daylight hours. This varies by country so it is best to do your homework
                            for the countries in which you will drive. For example, in Hungary you
                            have to have your lights on whenever you leave the city limits during
                            all times of the year. In Slovakia, between 15 October and 15 March, you
                            must have your lights on at all times regardless of the time of day.
                            This is easy to forget when the sun is shining in the middle of the day.
                            I was stopped twice when I forgot to turn my lights back on after
                            leaving a petrol station.

                            There is virtually no such thing as a four-way stop in Europe. Most
                            intersections will be controlled in one direction or the other and the
                            priority road always has the right of way. At uncontrolled
                            intersections, the driver on the right has the right of way as does the
                            driver on your right on a multi-lane highway if he/she wants to move
                            left. Additionally, while they are slowly starting to appear in the US,
                            most Americans will be surprised by the number of traffic circles and/or
                            roundabouts in Europe. There are special right-of-way rules for
                            roundabouts and you can read more about them here:
                            http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Roundabout

                            In Europe, the left lane (right lane in UK) on a divided highway is for
                            passing only. The American habit of cruising in the left lane is
                            illegal, is not tolerated, and you will be fined. You must always drive
                            as far right as you can if the lane to the right is clear regardless of
                            how fast you are driving. This helps keep traffic moving since it is
                            strictly forbidden to pass any vehicle on the right.

                            Police procedures in several European countries allows for “spot fines”
                            for smaller infractions of the traffic code. This is true in Slovakia so
                            it is always good to have at least €40 with you to avoid the hassle of
                            following up on a traffic violation later. If you pay one, make sure you
                            get a receipt. The idea of trying to talk your way out of a fine is not
                            normal in Europe and it could even exacerbate your situation so I would
                            recommend against it. When I first got to Central Europe in 2001, I
                            heard stories about putting some money in your driving license when you
                            hand it over to the policeman so that he would overlook your infraction.
                            This practice may have been prevalent and perhaps even tolerated in
                            former times but is not tolerated in the European Union. There are
                            anti-corruption agents monitoring for this and you may even face
                            allegations of bribery.

                            In many countries in Europe, travel on the motorways is not free. In
                            France and Italy one stops periodically to pay a toll but in other
                            countries you have to buy a toll sticker called a “vignette” in
                            many/most non-English speaking European countries. This is true for
                            Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. In Slovakia, these
                            toll stickers which are required for the use of the motorways, are
                            available in several categories depending on the vehicle's weight. They
                            can be purchased for one year, one week, and one month with prices as
                            follows for vehicles under 3.5 tons:

                            Annual: €36.50

                            One Month: €09.90

                            One Week: €04.90

                            Finally, tolerance for drinking and driving is more strict than it is in
                            the US and it varies by country
                            (http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Drunk_driving_ law_by_country). In Slovakia
                            and Hungary, there is zero tolerance while Austria allows up to 0.05%
                            for experienced drivers. In six years in central Europe I encountered a
                            number of sobriety checkpoints where I was required to take a
                            breathalyzer test even though I had committed no infraction. One time,
                            my car was hit in a parking lot accident while I was in a business
                            meeting during my time in Bratislava. When I arrived on the scene, the
                            police required me to take a breathalyzer test even though I was nowhere
                            near the car at the time of the accident. When I questioned this, I was
                            told it was standard procedure. Therefore, I highly recommend public
                            transportation or a taxi if you will be enjoying Slovakia's wonderful
                            beers and wines while dining and you don't have a designated driver.

                            As for driving to Prague, I'd personally recommend taking the train
                            instead. It is fast, cheap, and worry free. Driving back and forth on
                            the motorway is not such a big deal but navigating around in the city
                            and finding a safe place to park the car is a headache. Once in the
                            Prague, the public transportation is cheap and can get you anywhere you
                            want to go in the city as a tourist.

                            I hope this information will be useful to someone. I know it has been a
                            long post but I wanted to get a few things out to the group, especially
                            the point about International Driving Permits being required to drive in
                            Austria. I will try to finish up the rest of my tips and will save the
                            file to the group's file space when I do.

                            Paul in NW Florida







                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Bill Tarkulich
                            No further responses to this topic, please. It is off-topic. Thank you, Bill Tarkulich Moderator
                            Message 13 of 14 , Apr 8 8:27 AM
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                              No further responses to this topic, please. It is off-topic.

                              Thank you,

                              Bill Tarkulich
                              Moderator
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