by Anastasia Berta
Driving in another country can be a (sur)real experience!
I was reminded of this during my recent trip to Prague,
Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest. During my years in the
wine business, I drove extensively through France, Italy,
Germany and Spain, but it had been 20 years since my
last trip to France, so definitely far in my rearview mirror.
Since the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary
are only a few hours apart, it made sense to rent a car for our
long weekend excursion, even with gas over $9/gallon––
talk about pain at the pump!!!
As someone who especially enjoys driving in Europe
as I’ve found that Europeans in general are much better
drivers than Americans, I have several observations.
As usual, European drivers generally excel at driving
in the right lane, using the left lane only for passing. That’s
because speed limits are largely disregarded on European
highways, composed of the French Autoroute, German
Autobahn, Italian Autostrada and the rest, so it’s common
to find luxury German sedans or Italian sportscars
charging up your bum well in excess of 100mph/160kmh!
Highway accidents are not very common in the EU, but when
they do occur, they are nearly always fatal, so survival of the
fittest means staying in the right lane until you can safely
pass, and you best triple-check your mirrors before doing so!
When we encountered road work, eye-catching dashed
orange lines next to the standard white lines alerted drivers
to reduced speeds in construction zones, which ARE
enforced. That seemed clever, and just last week I noticed
a section on the 5 North where they did the same.
I thought this was cool: traffic lights went from green, to
green and yellow, to red, then red, to red and yellow, to
green, so you were always prepared for the light change.
On the other hand, I was mystified when I occasionally saw
stop lights with stop signs posted above them: clearly it was
meant to get your attention, but talk about mixed messages!!
My favorite thing was an almost total absence of stop
signs. Instead, most minor intersections had Yield signs
on the secondary road, so as long as no vehicle was com-
ing, you didn’t have to stop. This struck me as not only a
great time saver, but also much kinder to your engine and
passengers. It always strikes me as pointless to come to a
complete stop when there’s not another car anywhere in sight!
We enjoyed many outstanding meals over my 11-day
vacation, but one of my favorite stops was James Dean
restaurant in Praha (Prague) near Old Town Square.
This classic American diner features seating inspired by
Chevrolet Bel Air armchairs from 1952 and other vintage
autos. Images of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis
Presley oversee a genuine Coco-Cola® cash register that
chimes “cha-ching!” when opened, and a well preserved,
fully functional Seeburg Coca-Cola® jukebox.
The diner attracts photographers by the score, eager
to see the memorabilia and “unique” urinals–
you’ll have to google them, they’re a bit too risqué
for this family publication–but I suggest you do!
Not having traveled to Eastern Europe before, I was curious
to see what the mix of cars would be. Besides the ubiquitous
Skodas and many Toyotas and Hyundais, all of which
are manufactured there, I saw an abundance of Mercedes,
Audis, “Beemers” and Range Rovers, in addition to
plenty of Porsches–mostly 911s, with many Taycans,
Macans, and a handful of GT cars. There were Lamborghinis
and Ferraris, Corvettes and Coopers, even a few Bentleys
and one purple McLaren 765LT Spider, a real head-turner.
All in all, it was a magnificent trip, and I can’t rec-
ommend Prague and
Budapest highly enough
Now...back to the REAL world!
We are lucky to have six outstanding candidates for
our 2023 PCASDR Board of Directors Election! Four
seats are available, so take the time to get to know the
candidates by reading the candidate statesments written
by each of our worthy members in this edition, and don’t
forget to VOTE! Choose those whom YOU think would
make the best contributions to the PCASDR Board of
Directors! Volunteers make our Club what it is, and the
Members of the Board are some of the most active
members in our chapter of nearly 3,000, so show them you
appreciate everything they do for all of us by casting
Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 8–that’s the date
for our big 65th Anniversary Celebration, details coming!
We also have a trip to the renowned Petersen Automotive
Museum featuring the spectacular James Bond exhibit
in the works–keep your eyes peeled for that
Porsche enthusiasts will gather for the eighth Porsche Club
of America Werks Reunion in Monterey the weekend of
August 19, showcasing a breathtaking array of Porsches
from rare classics to current models and everything in
between! Due to Covid, it’s been five years since the last
Reunion, so this year should really be spectacular. Display
your own cherished Porsche in the model-specific Corral, or
compete in the Porsche Judged Field to win a unique Werks
Reunion Trophy. Details here:
Our Fall TT/DE Driving Season kicks off at Willow Springs
International Raceway, September 24-25. Registration
opens Sunday 8/7 at 9am! Register here:
Social Chair and Vineyard Region President Victoria Varon
led another sold out, memorable Mystery Weekend with
stops at Pit Stop Diner, West Coast Exotic Cars in Murrieta,
followed by a visit to Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles
(PECLA) in Carson which included a tour of the facility,
lunch, and the chance for drivers to try their skills driving
virtual Porsches on famous race-tracks in PECLA’s
popular Simulator Lab. Old Town Pasadena was the
next stop, with a delicious dinner at IlFornaio. Thanks
for another terrific event, Victoria!