The title makes me laugh, because it is not only a description of what is to follow, but it’s also a song Lila made up and sang quite often on the trip. “Riding in the car, riding in the car.” Cute girl.
I really should have Lance write this post, since he’s the one who drove and who had such a “fun” experience picking up the car. Alas, I’ll summarize.
On Day 3, Lance left our AirBNB alone in the morning to go pick up the car. Apparently all went well, until he was pulling out of the rental agency’s parking lot and buckets of smoke started to billow out of the hood. He was going up a hill and onlookers started pointing and shouting at him in German (likely trying to help) but he kept on. What was he supposed to do? He thinks he must’ve given it too much gas while not letting the clutch out quickly enough. Or something. It kinda sounded to me like the parking break might’ve been on. He was mostly annoyed because he drove a manual on his mission and got so good at it. Clearly he was just out of practice!
While loading the car with our luggage I noticed the strong smell but wasn’t sure where it was coming from. When he told me we laughed and laughed. He said it was so stressful and embarrassing in the moment. The car smelled for about five of the nine days we had it — ha! We’d regularly make jokes about it, especially if he was switching gears and would rev the engine a bit. His response (as if he was telling the onlookers) was always “Don’t worry, it’s a rental!”
I debated about renting a car, but I’m so glad we did. I enjoy taking trains, but with so much luggage it could’ve been a real struggle. Plus, you have to arrange your days so carefully when using public transportation. Though also work to navigate and drive, it’s so nice to be able to say “Pull over! Let’s explore!” or to leave whenever we want etc. Plus, the car was like a third suitcase! We left Lila’s stroller, baby carrier, diapers, toys etc in the boot so we could have access to them whenever. That made packing up after each location much easier.
We got a charcoal gray Ford Fiesta hatchback, which was surprisingly spacious. It comfortably fit our belongings in the boot, as well as us in the seats. Lila had the backseat to herself. We bought a new, small convertible car seat for the trip, and I’m so glad we did. Her main car seat is huge, heavy and expensive. This one was $50 or so and will be a great travel car seat when we go on airplanes etc. She road front facing behind the driver’s seat, and enjoyed being able to see us and look out the window.
The car cost $214 for 9 days — plus $401 in fees for returning it in a different country! After a few other extra fees, it was between $600-$700 total. When I think about how cheap it would’ve been had we returned it in Austria I cringe, but otherwise, I think that’s an awesome price for how much flexibility and comfort that car offered us! I wish I would’ve taken a picture!