THE CAR FROM HELL
There are no photos with this blog, so just use your imagination folks……cause here’s the JOURNEY!!!!!
You know, when it comes to renting a car these days, it’s pretty easy, right?
Not so fast there sweetheart! Because renting a car in Marseille for our journey along the coast was supposed to be an easy task, alas, it was just the opposite.
Imagine an AVIS Car Rental place in the heart of Marseille.
Hmmmm. They have all the right information from the booking from the US, they have our card number and they have now given us the car of our dreams……..a large FORD- C-MAX…….not sure what that is in American standards, but FORDS here are half comprised of GERMAN elements and are very very well built. Except this one.
Our first and most important pre-check when we got in our lovely car was to test the RADIO. Being music deprived for a year and a half, one wants to establish good listening for the long trip ahead. Lovely sound. Check one. Then the brakes, the windshield wipers, the lights, seat adjustment, mirrors, etc.
On our way to L’Estaque to take some beautiful photos of one of the prettiest ports north of Marseille, we, (me and Sharon) decide that we can’t go a moment longer in our dream car as we needed to pee. Badly. We stop at a side road market, but of course, there is no TOILET. Plenty of fresh fruit, and bread and cigarettes to sell, but no toilet. While Sharon is inside finding out this is a “NO GO” I am playing with my GPS trying to get the lady with the British Accent to SHUT UP because frankly, I am tired of listening to her. I know about where I am. (about). When I go to test the GPS, the battery is on zero and I can’t figure this out as we have been driving for half an hour with it plugged into the “Cigarette Briquette” (Lighter) to no avail. It’s not registering.
I then try the real cigarette lighter, push it down, waiting for it to POP UP as cigarette lighters are known to do, but alas, no popping. Plus, it’s now stuck. It won’t budge. I know it must be “dead” so I go to the back seat and try the auxillary lighter, but it’s dead too. Hmmmm. Sharon returns and spends about 15 minutes trying to pull the dead cigarette lighter out of its cavity. Finally it budges. We call Avis to tell them we have to return the car. I move the gear shift to reverse to get out of there and head back to the AVIS near the airport. THe car won’t go into REVERSE, any way any how, at all, even after Sharon trys it for (another) 15 minutes. We still have to pee.
Finally, Sharon gets the bright idea to PUSH this car back, – BACK , with her little body – yes, this huge SUV – so that we can atleast go FORWARD. It’s very comical, and I can’t stop laughing, and we do eventually find our way out of this side road market (with no toilet. )
But then, I notice a lovely venue over looking the whole of Marseille through lovely old Roman like arches and pull off to the side of the road so she can take a beautiful snap shot. She gets out, takes her wide angle photos and I snap mine admist strong winds and dropping temperatures.
When we try and leave we notice a car in front of us so that we are now stuck as we cannot go in reverse. But! There is a man in the car! Excellent! And we go up to the window and I say to him……..”Monsiur, Bonjour! Je suis Americane -and I have this car – this VOITURE, in which I cannot put into REVERSE,”- but didn’t know the word for reverse, so did the sound effects of reverse ( I just made it up) and he laughs and tells me the word for reverse and gives me a lesson on some other french words that I was getting wrong and finally, he realizes that I need him to STOP the LESSON on FRENCH and just PULL the heck FORWARD so that I can get my car out and along the road and to the AVIS dealership. He obliges, we pull this mammoth car out and thank him with a strong honk of the horn and a very American wave that says, “Yes, we’re crazy and we like you so very much for putting up with us and our bad french and for – (especially for ) – MOVING your car forward. Now to find the Marseille Airport like they did in ions past……..without a personal navigation system.
When we arrive at the Avis Car Rental, we explain the problem with the auxiliary lighters not working – and how we needed to plug our GPS in them and our phones, etc and she nods, then proceeds to give us a new car. We also told her that the REVERSE was not working . She then tells us that we must pull UP on the gear shift ball thingy and we look at her and say “PULL UP?!?!?” – So I go back out to the car and try it, and alas, there is NO WAY that I would have ever figured that out.…….and she says to us, “Yes, how would you know……you’re American” (sort of in those words) and I say, “Yes, how WOULD I have known that, — it would have been a good thing to TELL me this, don’t you think?” But, alas, no. We are given an even bigger SUV now, and the fun is just beginning.
Miss British Tom Tom takes us back to our home, but not before sending us in the worst possible traffic in the middle of rush hour through the heart of Marseille. If you know anything about how I would never drive in PARIS, but did actually have to in order to buy a new GPS 7 weeks ago…….you will now know when I tell you that driving in Marseille is actually worse than driving in Paris, trust me, it sincerely is. This is when you want a TINY car, not a huge SUV but somehow navigated around the slim streets, the stopped vehicles in the middle of the street and countless pedestrians and motor cycles despite it. What a challenge, to be sure.
We have our new car, and it arrived in Cassis without a scratch. Not sure how that happened but we’re grateful. I won’t mention the amount of cursing and gear shifting and revving my car that I did, causing all the very loud motor cycle drivers next to me to stare as though I were in some kind of competition with them.
It’s all good. I’ve finished a bottle of wine, made my apologies to my good friend who had to take the brunt of my hysterical rantings and ravings, and she praised me anyway for a driving job well done. Now that’s what friends are for. Pass the wine……The Mistral is due in tonight………..oh la la la la la…….