Thursday's Child: Rental Cars

Thursday, January 6, 2011
We wouldn't have made it to our remote Pyrenees hotel
without a rental car

Ralph Waldo Emerson has said, "Life is a journey, not a destination".  And many of our most vivid vacation memories are from travelling from one place to another.  We've journeyed in planes, trains, and automobiles, and used funiculars, ferries and our own feet. This month I'll focus on some of the interesting ways we've gone from point A to point B.

We’ve always believed that part of seeing a country means getting out of the cities, and over the years we’ve rented many a car to do just that.  Our first rental experience was before the girls were born.  Andrew and I had flown to England a year into our marriage to meet his English relatives, most of whom hadn’t been able to attend our wedding.  Andrew gamely mastered using a stick shift with his opposite hand and my role was to chant “left, left, left” every time we started the car, to remind him to stay on the left side of the road.  Our biggest challenge on that trip, however, were the one-lane roads in Wales, where we competed with local sheep for supremacy of the street.

As much as I love to travel, I am stunningly poor at reading maps.  Over the years, Andrew has developed saintlike patience in interpreting my cryptic directions.  It doesn’t matter how much I peruse them before we set off.  The map always looks different in the hotel room than it does in the passenger seat.  This summer, as we headed north from Paris in our little rental car, Andrew remain unflustered as I shouted, “Oh no!  We’re on the road to Rouen!”  (This line is funny only if said out loud, in a poor French accent.)

As a result, you’d think we’d be fans of using a GPS on holidays, but our experience proved otherwise.  A few years ago we drove from Munich to Prague, and missed the correct entrance to the autobahn.  Although we quickly recovered and found the next entrance, the GPS spent the rest of our trip telling us to drive back to Munich and take the correct turnoff.  Three hours later, she was still barking at us – in German – to drive all the way back and do it correctly.  We felt like four-year-olds with our hands in the cookie jar.

We’ve recovered from all our rental car experiences, but the most eloquent one came courtesy of someone else.  Upon leaving Mont St. Michel in France this summer, we were reminded of the importance of always reading road signs, particularly when they refer to changing tides:
Mont St Michel parking lot, high tide


26 comments:

Rita said...

What an interesting post. I can relate to your stories. We were given a GPS and the funny part is that my dear husband says it's wrong and goes his own way. We usually get there.

Belinda said...

What an adorable little car! Remember it wasn't too long ago before GPS...and gotta say, getting lost (sometimes) is half the fun!

allieksmith said...

I liked this post a lot! I like how your duty in England was to chant "left, left, left" haha perfect!! That car is too cute ;) I am pretty bad with directions as well *sigh*. I couldn't believe the last picture of high tide!! Eek!

MT said...

Oh my word. True story? This is funny. You should write a book. ;)
We're on the road to Rouen! Haha!

Angela Felsted said...

Wow, that is an impressive picture.

Janet Johnson said...

Oh my goodness, that is so funny! What a great picture. :) I have mixed feelings towards our GPS. Definitely a love/hate relationship!

Valerie said...

:-D
That's so funny! (although those poor passengers may have felt differently)
I'm the same way when it comes to maps. The details are too small to read while sitting in a bumpy car. I've never used a GPS, I find them intimidating.

Kayte said...

OMW, that photo is so funny...well not funny to those who were the recipients of the bad news, but funny just to think of someone coming back and finding it like that. Yikes. Fun times.

A Canadian Foodie said...

OH mY!!! Beth - that is so so so funny - and so not funny all at once. I have been to Mt. St. Michele and it is SO SO SO gorgeous but had NO idea this is what the parking lot looked like at high tide... maybe there was no parking lot when I was there, either? I took my students on a tour that year and we were bussed in and traipsed up in awe... like a pilgrim on a journey. I had never seen anything like it. I still have a couple of precious pieces bought there, at the little shops enroute that I so cherish,
What an ordeal.
You gotta love to travel!
:)
valerie

katerina said...

I laughed a lot with the German GPS. I can just picture the whole scene and must have been hilarious. Especially if we take into consideration that German is not the most softly sounded lunguage in the world.

Carol said...

OMG, that last picture :) Good warning!
The GPS makes me nuts in English, I can just imagine in German, LOL!

Jenn from Much to My Delight said...

You make me want to travel! Especially to Europe--would love to see these markets you write about.

Carol Riggs said...

Whoa! A picture that's definitely worth 1000 words. A story in itself.

Hi Beth, so nice to meet you, and thanks for stopping by my blog to comment and follow!
And now you have 81 followers! Good luck on my 100 follower giveaway. ;o)

Claudia said...

Okay - the last photo told me - maybe not travel by rental car! I am primo map reader but horrible passenger car rider. And the GPS lady who always yells at you to turn when you turned long ago - no, thank-you! Looking forward to more!

comfortablydomestic.com said...

That is too funny! On the road to Rouen. I'm not a fan of GPS, but my husband loves it because he has to travel many country roads that are not marked on a map, but show up on his GPS.

Chow and Chatter said...

good advice folks need to keep map skills

Jeanne said...

What a fun travelling story! I do enjoy being lost because that's the best way to discover new places. Being a cartographer, I have a knack for reading maps so we never use GPS.

That flooded parking lot photo is so funny! (but not for the owner of the car, I'm sure)

Monet said...

What a crazy last picture! And an important warning! I love getting to see the countryside too, and the next time Ryan and I make it to Europe...I hope we can do that! Thank you for sharing such a fun post. I hope you have a wonderful Friday and a beautiful weekend!

highlandsranchfoodie said...

Great post Beth

tenaciouslyyours.com said...

Rental cars overseas are always a bit of hocus pocus.

My rules are: Rent the best one you can, get the GPS (That English thing is SO key) and buy the biggest map you can find.

ezsrecipes.com said...

This reminds me of when I was visiting a friend in Italy. She got into a car wreck and her car was in the shop. She and I were going around Milan in this horrible, ancient spare car that felt like it might break down at any second. It was one of those things we still laugh about 10 years later!

Martha (MM) said...

Only one thing to say - OH MY!!!

Reeni said...

Oh how funny! I love the road to Rouen! And the car in the ocean!

Amie Kaufman said...

Holy cow, that's hilarious!

I think my favourite ever rental car was a red one (I'm one of those people who refer to cars by colour, not make/model) that was a crash magnet. We were never once there, but every time we came back to the parking lot somebody new had backed into it or opened a door into it. I swear we weren't parking badly!

lapetitepancake said...

I hope that wasn't your rental car in the tide! Crazy.
My favorite mode of transportation was driving a rented "fun car" (kind of like a smart car and bumper car in one) through the mountains in Switzerland. Incredible

All Our Fingers in the Pie said...

Oh my gosh! I hope they had good insurance.

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