Thursday, May 7, 2009

BMW: Enjoy it while we can! (Apr 11)

Since this past October we've been fortunate enough to drive a Series 5 BMW thanks to Deloitte and Shannon's package of perks! We're grateful for this opportunity since we wouldn't be able to afford this luxurious of a car in the US. Plus, this is one of Shannon's dream cars, so I guess he can live it up for a few years! Reality will sink in when we return to the US; though, we're enjoying it while we can!

Before we received our new car, we were driving a few rentals which included a Mercedes and a Series 1 BMW. Both of them were manuals so I couldn't drive them. On a side note, around 90% of Europeans own or at least know how to drive a manual while only 30% of Americans know how to drive one. You'd think I would have learned to drive a stick shift (manual) growing up on a farm and having a brother who used to have a mustang, but nope! I guess I've attempted a few times, but I'm pretty awful and there's no way Shannon trusted me driving a manual in this crazy city, especially after we did a trial run around the ponds by our apartment and I didn't pass his expectations! Luckily, our new BMW is an automatic, which we requested, and I've been driving it occasionally ever since we got it. I'm not sure if Shannon likes the fact that I'm feeling more comfortable driving here more and more, even though I do get honked at from time to time which is mainly because of their stupid, 'priority to the right' law! This law states the following: Drivers must give absolute priority to vehicles joining a road from the right, even if they have stopped at a road junction or stopped for pedestrians or cyclists. Exemptions to this rule include motorways, roundabouts, roads sign-posted with an orange diamond within a white background or when there are triangles / teeth-like marks on the pavement to one's right. Anyway, it's not the same kind of policy we have in the US; though in some cases it may sound similar, but you have to live here and experience it to understand what I'm really talking about and to see just how confusing it can be at times!

Our BMW started off with zero kilometers, but we've managed to put on close to 19,000 kilometers in just over 6 months (I think Shannon should have estimated our annual usage a bit higher to the lease company)! It's hard not to drive everywhere when you have free gas; oh yeah, another perk Deloitte gives its employees. We can only fill-up at Total stations in Belgium, so if we drive too far into another country, we'll be footing the bill. The main things I love about our BMW are it's built in GPS system and front and rear sensors. I've probably stated before that everyone uses a GPS system here which is highly needed with all the intertwining of streets which are not marked very well. I feel much more confident driving with the help of my little GPS friend! The sensors are particularly nice because of all the parallel parking you have to do here. We're becoming pros at it and are able to fit into tiny spaces thanks to the sensors. I also enjoy the leather seats, especially when I recline mine all the way and take a nap while Shannon is driving. It also has fold down backseats so we can put our bikes in the trunk. Overall, we are very pleased with our selection as Shannon was able to pick from a few different varieties of cars.

This photo was taken after Shannon had me bring his car to the carwash while he was slaving away on a tax return at home. He was extremely happy to see his car so shiny, especially since we hadn't washed it since our holiday trip to Germany, Austria and Switzerland and there was quite a bit of salt build-up.
His license plate, which he didn't pick out, fits an Accountant well 'ADD'.
The apartment complex in the middle in the background is ours; it's actually the one with the window open. Shannon's car is parked next to the Flagey ponds which are outside our living room window.

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