The Big Driving Trip – July 18th

Our 17 day, 2,800+ km road trip through the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Germany started off with a bit of a rough patch. Which I will describe in detail now for posterity sake (looking back we can laugh at the situation, but at the time I just wanted to cry).  If you don’t want to hear about the less than stellar first day to our amazing road trip, skip to my next post where we’ve made it to Prague and we can forget about the jumbo sized auto repair bill we’ll be getting in a couple of weeks. 🙂

A little over an hour into our first day (driving from Osna to Dresden where we would be spending the night) our car broke down on the autobahn right outside of Hannover.  Thankfully we had signed-up for ADAC (similar to AAA in the States) a couple of weeks before our trip because I figured we shouldn’t tempt fate by going on such a long driving trip without some kind of auto club we could call if we got into trouble, and thank goodness we did! I tried and failed to talk to the lady on the ADAC hotline since she didn’t speak English and I didn’t know the words in Germany to explain what was wrong, but thankfully Morgan was able to explain the problem (car lost power while we were driving, all we could do was coast to the side of the road) and where we were. It was terribly hot and there was a ton of traffic on the road (the beginning of a holiday weekend, which comes into play later..), which made the 45 min wait for the ADAC man rather slow and painful.  –Not to mention Morgan and I were pretty stressed. Germany has specific rules about what you do when your car breaks down; we knew we had to put on our super fashionable safety vests and stand outside of the car on the other side of the guard rail as well as put out the emergency triangle.. but from there the details got fuzzy. We guessed it should be 100 m back, but we weren’t sure. We knew that you weren’t supposed to have your car on the shoulder of the autobahn for long so we were stressing a cop would give us a ticket since our ADAC guy was taking so long, etc.

When the ADAC man arrived he ran a few tests and finally told us it wasn’t something easy he could fix so he’d have to call us a tow truck.  So he leaves and we wait another 40 min or so for the tow truck. When we finally do get on our way (with the tow truck driver thankfully driving in the emergency lane rather than sitting in the stand still traffic because his truck had no AC….) we then found out that he needed to pick up another person and their messed up car before taking us to the closest VW dealership. So after a detour that included taking our car off the tow truck (grrrr)  to put the other persons on the flat bed since he had messed up a rear wheel and his car couldn’t be dragged (blah, blah, blah) and then hooking our car up we were on our way (maybe for real this time?!?).  I have never been so happy to be at a car dealership. Air-conditioning. Bathrooms. Free coffee, tea, and water to drink.  And car parts to fix our car so we could get on the road (at this point we would have only been about 2.5 hrs behind schedule).. nope, not so much. We got there in the “late” afternoon on a Friday (like 10 minutes after 5) and since we are living in Germany there is only one person who can run the instrument to tell us what is wrong with our car and he has already left for the day and won’t be back until Monday (by which time we are supposed to be down in Vienna).  So at this point we had a million thing going through our minds – do we cancel our trip, do we delay going to Prague so hopefully our car is fixed Monday, do we continue on now with a rental car, can we afford a rental car for 2 weeks, would our rental car be allowed to go into the Czech Republic and Hungary (many aren’t), etc. Needless to say our stomachs were in knots.

We decided to call ADAC and request they get us a rental car – our plan covers a rental car if your car dies on a vacation for as long as your car is being worked on up to one week. We called then around 5:45 and they told us they would get back to us within 30 min with the name of the company we would be using and the address of where to get the car. 30 min go by and we don’t hear anything, at 45 min Morgan calls them back. He talks to a different person who says they are working on our request right now and they’ll call back soon with the info we need.  30 min later we haven’t heard anything and as an added bonus we are being kicked out of the car dealership because they are closing. By this point we are all getting a little crabby. We are all hot and sticky, we are starting to get hungry (it is around 7 pm at this point) and we are nowhere near a restaurant or fast food place, and when we do hear from the ADAC people, it is for them to tell us they are having a hard time finding us a car because most of the rental car places have closed because it is a holiday weekend in the state we are in.  GRRRRR.   After almost an hour more of waiting outside of the car dealership and eating all the snacks we had brought for the entire road trip we finally get a call from ADAC saying they found us a car. After a 15 min wait for the taxi driver and a 15 min drive to the car rental place we finally were able to pick up our car (which thank the Lord was allowed to be driven into the Czech Republic and Hungary) and get on the road… about 6 hours after our car broke down.

To add insult to injury, we got stuck behind some kind of leisurely bike ride through town event while trying to get from the rental car place to the highway so we sat for about 10 minutes and watched while they slowly peddled past us (with cops and the weird guy in only a safety vest and tiny bathing suit bottoms stopping traffic for them), we circled a McDonalds several times trying to get food unable to find the drive through entrance, and then to top it off once on the highway we got stuck behind a caravan of huge LKW’s (18 wheelers) moving the parts to one of the huge wind turbines. Of course the road was only 2 lanes wide going each way, so our side was completely stuck behind them moving at a snails pace.. which set us back another 30 min or so. We finally got to our hotel near Dresden around 2 am completely exhausted disappointed that we had to spend the time we should have been seeing Dresden stuck on the side of the road and then outside of a VW dealership in Hannover…. things have to get better at this point. Right?