There are always bound to be hiccups or mishaps when traveling. And for this month’s Dolce Vita Bloggers link up, we are asked to share with you a “hilarious gone wrong travel story”. In hindsight, I can laugh and joke about this story, but in at that particular moment, let me tell you, I was crying…
My story unfolds on route to visit an elderly Aunt and Uncle in Genoa, Italy.
We had hired a car for our European holiday. The car was brand new, reliable and had a navigation system as most modern cars do.
But sometimes these navigation systems are not to be trusted, and we learned this lesson the hard way!
On entering Genoa, with Zio and Zia’s address programmed into the GPS, the weather turned and there was a torrential downpour. With not far to go we were on top of a small hill with our destination at the bottom. How hard could it be?
The streets were narrow in the residential area. Tall apartment buildings neighbouring each other in between narrow declining cement walled streets. A typical Italian suburban neighbourhood.
Suddenly the GPS informs us to turn left and continue straight down that street. So, we take the next left, another narrow street with cars parked on either side. It took millimetre precision to navigate through the parked vehicles. After a hilly decent of 50m or so the street wrapped around the corner and from the top we could see below a gate at the end of the street. We slowly descended in the heavy rain to gain closer sight of this gate which as we got closer, became clearer that it was closed, and there was no way to continue through.
Halted in the middle of the hill in the rain, in a manual car, we assessed the situation. It was too narrow to do a 3-point turn. The only way out was to reverse back up and somehow manoeuvre the car back around the corner in between the parked cars. With the kids in the back and panic starting to kick in, my husband put his foot on the accelerator and started the incline in reverse when suddenly we smelt burning and realized there was smoke escaping from the bonnet. Unfortunately, we could not fit back up the street and squeeze our way between the parked cars. We were trapped.
Now we were really worried and sat there in the car, rain pelting and windows fogged for a good 20 minutes trying to figure out a solution. I was nearly in tears when God must have heard my prayers. A nearby garage door opened and a man appeared and asked us in Italian ‘why we were in the street as it was private property, and opened his garage, as he had smelt the smoke’. My husband explained the situation in Italian to him and thankfully he was the owner of one of the cars that were parked on the side corner of the street. He moved his car and we were able to reverse the car back up the hill with the car still smoking.
We found the closest car park and left the car there to cool down while we searched on foot, in the heavy rain, down the hill to Zio and Zia’s house. After a few hours of visiting our family and a few espressos later, we headed back up to the car. Zio, who also had some mechanical knowledge had a quick look and advised us to take it to the next service centre we could find.
With the car no longer smoking, our next planned stop was Pisa, so we knew our journey would be a few hours’ drive. With fingers and toes crossed and many prayers said to the Lord above, we managed to make it to the mechanic. With the burning smell still evident, they advised that due to there being no signal faults displayed, it was simply the burning smell of the clutch being overworked. They advised that if we made the journey from Genoa to Pisa with no issues then the vehicle would be fine. Thankfully the burning smell disappeared and the car remained reliable for the rest of our journey.
Now, we all laugh about that day but also remember the stress and distraught it caused. I guess situations like these are totally unpredictable, and we have to learn how to cope and deal with any situation life throws at us.
You never know what is going to be around that corner!
Disclaimer: Photos taken from Pexels. ( I was too distraught to take photos of our dilemma that day! )
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