If you enjoyed part 1, you’ll definitely eat up part 2. #6-9 all happened in the same week. Though this one week in my travels had the most blunders and thus was the most expensive, it was also the most exciting. It was spontaneous, risky, and amazing. I would totally do it again, but making use of what I learned!
Two weeks prior to all of this, I met Alexis in Ireland. Sharing a common obsession with
The Sound of Music, we decided to meet up in Salzburg. We mistakenly figured that since flights were expensive to Salzburg, it would be cheaper to fly into Berlin, rent a car, and then drive down, so we added Prague to the list. Our journey took us through three countries, three currencies, and three language changes in three days. It was crazy and we loved it!
So here it is, starting in Berlin…
6. Booking a manual rental instead of automatic in Germany. Note: I really tried with all my concentration while making the online booking to choose an automatic, but I think I’ve always confused the words manual and automatic in my mind and consciously chose manual instead!
Solution: When I got in the car, I realized it had a clutch. I went back inside and asked for a trade but they had no automatics. Everyone in Europe drives manual… I think the employee was laughing at me because I don’t know how to drive manual. I waited for an automatic to be returned, paid double to make the trade, added an additional fee to take the car across international boarders (we were traveling through Czech Republic and Austria) and over the next week paid lots more for petrol (gas is quite expensive in Europe)! In the end, it would’ve been cheaper to just fly to Salzburg (our destination), but we wouldn’t have seen the mysterious Czech castles in forgotten towns along the way or run into a spring snow storm and road blocks going into Austria. I would do it all over again, after learning to drive manual.
7. Neglecting to ask the rental company which type of petrol to use. Found ourselves in a small town in Czech Republic in need of Petrol and pulled into the nearest gas station.
Solution: Checked the manual, but it was all in German. Tried to figure out how to call the company but didn’t have international calling. Talked to the station employee who responded in Czech. Asked google translate how to say “which kind of gas?” in Czech. Somehow 5 Czech men surrounded our car (they looked nice), opened the hood, opened the gas cap, talked to one another for 5 more minutes in Czech in the freezing cold, stuck a gas nozzle into our tank and started filling it. We payed, prayed, and drove away. No explosions occurred and we made it to Salzburg! We may have been the talk of the town for the next week, especially because there was a news report of two American girls getting into an accident in Prague! (Good men of the small Czech town, it wasn’t us!
8. Accidentally booking a flight out of a different airport from the one where I needed to return the rental car. Realized this 2 hours before my flight’s departure whilst having a leisurely morning chat in my friend’s kitchen.
Solution: Downed the rest of my tea, packed the car, and prayed in tongues whilst driving to the first airport. Returned the car, grabbed the nearest cab, and prayed hard while riding to the second airport. Paid a painful €50 to the cab driver.
9. Taking my chances with overweight baggage on an airline I’d never flown (Air
Berlin) with the strictest weight limit ever (8kg for carry-on—did you hear that Rick Steves!?). When I arrived at Berlin airport #2 (as mentioned above), somehow the Air Berlin employees decided to weigh my bags. I was 6kg over. (Note that I was traveling for 3 ½ weeks with a Rick Steves backpack and separate laptop bag, not at all excessive.)
Solution: I paid another painful €60 to check the bag last-minute, which made it to the plane just in time. I hustled through security, even having the wherewithal to appreciate watching a Hassidic Jew remove his coat to expose his tasseled tzitzit beneath, and breathed a sigh of relief when I made it to the gate in time to find out we were experiencing a slight delay. *whew! My bag and I both made it to Sweden. Note to self: Don’t fly Air Berlin unless going on a weekend trip OR pay the extra €25 for baggage 24 hrs prior to departure.
10. Spending 3 hours in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Solution: Make it 3 days AT LEAST!! This city is tantalizingly beautiful, especially from the vantage point of a bicycle. I’m putting Copenhagen on my honeymoon list.
Missed Part 1? Time to read it.