The Rules Of The Road, Spanish-style

This week: Driving in Valencia – Red lights To Roundabouts – It’s (Street) Life, Jim, But Not As We Know It.

Driving in Valencia sure keeps you on your toes. “It’s light red,” my Valencian ex-husband ‘assured’ me as he wittingly jumped the light on a roundabout, while looking me dead in the eye. Half of his fingers of his right hand were in contact with the steering wheel, the rest holding a cigarette. His left hand was rummaging in the guantera (glove box) because there was no better time change the tunes. He has single-handedly maintained the wages of three funcionarios (civil servants) with the amount he has paid in multas (fines).

Why are roundabouts so chaotic in Valencia? The only likely explanation to our first conundrum is that it was raining on the day they had to paint the roundabout lanes and that particular mañana lo hacemos (we’ll do it tomorrow) was another one that never came. The semáforos (traffic light) are purely decorative. If you need to exit the roundabout near the Arts and Sciences and you’re eleven invisible lanes deep, Ex-husband School of Driving says you can cheerfully cut across the lot of them safe in the knowledge that the more bocinas (car horns) you hear, the more successful a manoeuvre you’ve pulled off.

Driving in valencia
Parking is a challenging as driving in Valencia – Courtesy of YES Valencia

Is parking easier than driving in Valencia?

What are the rules on parking? One of the great wonders of the universe. Ex-husband might aparcar en doble fila (parallel park and block you in). No pasa nada. He’s likely left the handbrake off so you can just push it a few metres and be on your way. If he’s forgotten, check the dashboard for an official ahora vuelvo (I’m coming back now) sign. Of course, ahora could mean anything between now and next month, so it’s up to you to decide whether to start a local manhunt or call a grúa (tow truck).

Another important piece of advice: if it’s raining, get as close as you possibly can to the car in front, don’t increase the distance of separation in unfavourable climatic conditions. Your car stays drier this way. And finally, don’t call your colega (mate) from your sofa for a chat. Wait until you drive past each other on a two-way street, then stop and wind your window down for a chin wag. Don’t worry, if Ex-husband is behind you, he’ll use those five minutes to catch up on his WhatsApp messages.

Drive carefully, now!

Tash Aleksy runs Spanglish City – this offers online Spanish classes via Zoom in a flexible, pay-as-you-go format. Well-prepared, varied classes in the comfort of your own home. Visit

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