|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|