Norway is an inconvenient country. Very, very beautiful, but they have rules…… rules that seem to be cast in stone… those very old stones that you see in fields and mountains. And here, rules are made to be followed to the letter, or so it seems.
Now, the rules do change, but are none-the-less very rigid and confusing.
When we arrived in January, you had to trade in the driving license from the country you came here from – no matter where you were from originally. And many countries license were not deemed worthy of exchange, meaning that you had to go through the whole course of driving lessons, just as if you were 16 again. And it costs around $6000.
We appealed for the right to exchange our expired Canadian licenses (in Canada, you cannot have a license if you are not a current resident of the country, no matter how long you lived there or how long you have driven).
Our 3 month visitor driving privilege expired April 23 – and we had a choice of walking or cycling everywhere we went (except, of course, using bus, train or taxi). David began to cycle the 25 mile round trip to work. We would do pleasure trips into Sola or Stavanger on our bicycles on the weekends. We got very fit. We were no closer to driving again.
On the chance that we would indeed be required to take all the lessons, we signed up with a local driving school, Olav’s in Sandnes. We did a couple of lessons – I felt like I had never driven before. I had not been behind the wheel since we left Oman in January, and had not driven a manual transmission for quite a while either. Great instructor – but my confidence was shot. While we were back in Canada for July, we drove on our Omani licenses – it was so good to feel again that I really DID know how to drive after all.
We bought a car in June so that our relatives, who were staying in our house in July while we were on holidays, could drive and explore the country. And, while we were gone, the rules changed.
When we arrived back from holidays the end of July, my sister came with us to visit. with her, and a big red letter “L” on the back of the car, we could drive until we got our temporary licenses. That took forever, as the one person who really knew how it worked was on holidays. (It took me three times talking to other people to get THAT through my head) You can believe that once she was back, and I had that paper, the “L” came down pretty quickly.
It was so good to be able to drive again – I love driving. many times, in different parts of the world (Kuwait City, Muscat, Oman, Canada) I have been driving along and just felt the rush of sheer joy at being behind the wheel.
Our practical tests were set for the end of October, but Louvise at Olav’s was able to get us in early on cancellations. David passed his test on September 10, and I did mine this Tuesday.
When I first arrived at the office, I went in to pay for the test. The lady at the desk had to make a phone call about the appointment. Oh NO! I thought – surely no more road blocks at this point. but no, everything was OK. then, the fellow bringing the school vehicle for the test (you do it in a car with pedals for the passenger, so even at the test level, someone can use the break or gas to get you out of trouble) was late, only arriving at 9:30 – the time the test was scheduled. He thought we were doing a pre-test lesson first. Panic…
The examiner was relaxed, and we had a very interesting conversation as we drove through town, on winding country roads and back to the traffic station. I felt like a confident and experienced driver, and it showed. It was even fun!
Unlike Canada, where every 2-5 years, you have to prove you are living there to renew your license, the Norwegian one is good for life, no matter where you live. The only provision is a medical exam at age 70, and then every year after 75. you do not have to relinquish it if you get a license in another country. If they make you give it up, all you need to do is ask Norway for another copy. I believe all of Europe is like this – wish Canada would get with the times – so much or this hassle would have been eliminated.
David got his license in two days – will mine come today?