A Holiday Story
Are you ready for a laugh? We have just returned from a wonderful holiday in the northern hemisphere and I have a couple of interesting stories I’d love to share. I’m afraid they have nothing to do with the art of writing or improving one’s ability to string words together, but I hope you might enjoy them, anyway.
This little experience of ours might have you smiling but I can tell you it didn’t do anything for us at all – We had been warned when picking up a rental car at Bologna (Italy) airport to make sure we had the car returned to Florence airport on time. Ten minutes late and we’d be charged for an extra day. Okay, no worries. We’ll be sure to give ourselves a little lee-way. On the day in question we got up and organised ourselves early, even leaving the apartment where we’d stayed in a small Tuscan village 30 minutes before we had intended to. Got to Florence airport area without too much hassle, even though it was morning rush hour traffic and we saw for the first time how crazy some Italian drivers can be, particularly those on scooters. We were relatively relaxed, after all we had about 90 minutes up our sleeves before the deadline for the car’s return.
Suffice to say the car got returned 5 mins before the deadline. Thankfully we discovered a small block which we could (and did) drive around (and around) while we tried to find where to leave the rental car. One sign, okay, following that. Second sign, okay got that….no more signs. Now don’t imagine navigating this circuit this was easy, we’re talking I think 5 or 6 lanes of converging traffic, 8-9am, Italy, Italian drivers including a million idiots on scooters, a very nervous driver (me) and navigator (husband) who’s anxiety level kept climbing with the minutes slipping by. Not to mention the idiot driver not responding quickly enough to shouted instructions and ending up on the motorway to Siena (which is nowhere near Florence airport I might add for anyone who’s not aware of the geography of Italy). Now I bet you’re all saying (at least all the females for sure) if only they’d stopped and asked for directions. We actually thought of that, my dear husband willingly got out of the car at three different garages and the airport to get directions. They always sounded so straightforward and easy, so away around the circuit we’d go again, always with the same result, except for the trip to Siena, that is. Then it was my turn to get some directions, my husband needed his tenth cigarette by now, poor boy. We had to be right beside the place, we’d followed the directions. Someone wandering around close by must know where it is. After all, a car rental agency near a busy city airport is not going to be tiny or unobtrusive, is it? I mean cars take up room and 20 (or about 100 we later found) of them are not going to fit in some out of the way space a local person is unaware of, are they? So confidently off I went asking anyone I saw. After about ten people, none of whom spoke English, and all who probably thought I was stalking them, we decided we didn’t have too many more minutes to waste. So back in the car, back around the circuit for about the thirteenth time (I knew it well by now, no tooting at me cos I was in the wrong lanes) and into the airport again. Out jumps my husband, who’s telling me I can’t stop here because I’m very illegally parked but right now I don’t give a rats whatever. Into a taxi he jumps. Twelve euros later, he with me following closely behind, despite glares, toots and almost too close for comfort ‘contacts’ with others on the roads, arrive at the rental drop off point. Hidden from the road, with no signs anywhere near it (I checked for them as we left in the shuttle), we would never have found it in a million years. In fact the taxi did something which, if my navigator had told me to go that way I would never have, it felt like they were going the wrong way down a one way street, after crossing a busy intersection, it was crazy.
But now I know why the girl in Bologna told us about being early lol. Could it be a devious way they make extra money, don’t let the poor old tourist know where to return the car, then charge them for extra days when they finally do turn up? I would never suggest such a thing, but the thought definitely crossed my mind. When I mentioned to a lady in the tourist office at the airport (I’d just heard her give directions to an American couple – her directions sounded easy, too) that it had taken almost two hours and then a taxi ride to find the place, she came up with a much cheaper option. I had to wonder, had she heard of these adventures before? She told me we should have just followed the free shuttle that ran from airport to rental place. Yeah, well that’s all very well once you know these things.
Do you wonder we were both pretty relieved to get rid of the car and have that part of our holiday over with?