I hired a car this afternoon in preparation for my planned trip tomorrow.
Because this is Spain it is manual, and because this is Spain it is left-hand drive. I can handle those things and, of course, driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Those things come back quickly; although judging the clutch in a strange car is always a bit fiddly at first. Luckily the drive back to my apartment was not too busy, so I got back feeling OK.
Now before I embarked upon this car hire adventure I had a chat with the receptionist, Javi, at my apartment. ‘Is the parking the usual Spanish nightmare?’ I asked. ‘No, no’, said he, ‘It’s easy.’
So I rock up and by chance the other receptionist, Eva, was standing outside the building. ‘Are you going to park?’, she asks, looking concerned. ‘Yeees…’ I say looking equally concerned now, ‘Why? Javi said it was easy.’ ‘No, not so easy – maybe better if I walk down with you.’
It was a complete nightmare.
Tiny, tight corners with millimeters to spare in an unfamiliar car where the slightest scratch is going to cost me car-hire-company rates to repair. I hated every moment even with Eva walking in front of me and providing guidance. I parked the car with the fervent wish I could just abandon it there forever.
I walked back up to the surface with Eva and she asked if my car had sensors to warn when something was close. I looked at her aghast and explained the sensors had been beeping continuously from the moment I entered the garage and so had been telling me nothing useful other than that I shouldn’t have been in there in the first place.
I have to make my way out of the car park, without Eva’s help, at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Assuming that project is successful, I’ve decided to return the car to the car-hire place before coming home no matter how late I finish up tomorrow.
And in the meantime I am having a beer to calm down.