Recounting the travel snafus amidst our very first RTW trip …
It’s all fun and games til someone puts regular gasoline in the teeny, tiny European DIESEL car. To Spanky’s credit, he knew the car took diesel. What he didn’t know (and I didn’t either, for that matter), is that in French “gazole” is diesel and it’s color on the pump is yellow, and unleaded is green. Apparently, it’s freakin’ opposite world over here.
This is how it all started. We picked up our car at the Charles de Gau Airport in Paris after three days of sightseeing in the city. We drove our rental – cute little buggar – out of the big city in search of green hilltops and jumpsuit-wearing yodelers. Realizing we only had about a quarter tank of gas (and by gas, I mean DIESEL), we made a pit stop. The place was a mad house, buzzing with clown cars. We didn’t even know where to pay so Spanky sent me inside to do the dirty work. The attendant spoke his best English and I spoke my best French and together we worked out the conclusion that cash was only accepted at pumps 1-6. So Spanky moved the car and filled her up as the other patrons zoomed by, horns blaring on the rushed Saturday afternoon. We paid and were on our way, but not 10 minutes down the road Spanky noticed the car going into convulsions. Then it just stopped as he puttered it over onto the side of the freeway. Right away Spanky knew the sin that had been committed – wrong gas. Living like our poor, technology-free parents had many moons ago, we had no choice but to hoof it to the next exit. We made it almost halfway when a couple stopped and picked us up. My paranoia set in as scenes from Taken flashed in my mind, but they seemed decent enough. They drove us to the gas station at the exit and we spent the next couple of minutes trying to communicate that we weren’t OUT of gas, but we had put the WRONG gas in our tank. To no avail, we borrowed their phone and called our rental company. Dumb Americans must do this all the time, right? Sure, but for a price – one we weren’t willing to pay. So instead, we walked over to the grocery store and purchased a hose for siphoning. We trekked back to our car and Spanky did his best McGyver impression. No luck. He could get a little out, but not 10 gallons worth. So we started the hike back and again were picked up by some friendly French, this time a husband, wife and small child (I was a little more at ease this time thinking they wouldn’t harm us with a kid in the back seat, right?). They dropped us at the same grocery store and even walked in to show us the pay phone. However, being the stubborn, self-sufficient individuals we are (or my husband is, anyhow), we headed right back to the garden section for a larger hose, a small tool kit and some duct tape (it fixes everything).
Round two commenced as we set forth back to our rental. Spanky posted up one more time to test his luck. No go. He wouldn’t back down and we had to at least get the car off the freeway so he fired it up and blasted it the mile to our oh-so-familiar exit. We let it collapse into the grocery parking lot where Spanky could get focused. By this time it was almost 5 p.m. and I was just ready to eat something and call it a day. So much for not being able to work out on this trip – I’ve walked about five to 10 miles a day since we started in New York.
With no budge in our progress, we ate and hiked another mile or so to the closest Comfort Hotel – this is where we have been for two nights now. We would have left yesterday, but everything closes down on Sundays in Europe; therefore, we couldn’t get to a mechanic and Spanky’s endless ideas just weren’t amounting to much. He tried, oh, did he try, but it’s a little harder when you are in a foreign country, know no one and every product label and plug-in is French/European. It isn’t a simple trip to Walmart for a siphon hose and a pump (which we figured out we after YouTubing “How to siphon gasoline” – you can’t just rely on gravity with newer cars, you need some suction).
So that’s our story as of yet, and yes, I cried … twice for those of you keeping a running tally. I’ll let you know when we are up and running again. For now, so long!