18 April 2010
Part Five: Our Journey Was Longer Than Yours And Other Topics Of Conversation That Are Boring
The five of us are closer than we every thought we’d be to getting back to London and it feels good. Touching down in Barcelona just minutes before planned airport closures in Spain, the adrenaline is pumping through our veins in a way I didn’t know was possible. I am ON FIRE and it feels so good!
After extensive conversation, we agreed that renting a car was the most cost-effective and timely way to get back to London. We head to the rental car desks only to learn that every car at every company is sold out. In fact, every car in Europcar’s Northern European fleet is booked. EVERY SINGLE RENTAL CAR IN EUROPE IS BOOKED. The only hope is a cancellation or an early return. Hertz gets cranky and while they do have one vehicle that needs to be “taken home to France,” the computer will not allow the employee to rent it until 7am. “Come back then and if you’re lucky, it is still here.” Alas, once again, the computer wins in Europe.
Europcar is a flat out know. Avis has a sign up that says “you’ve got to be kidding if you think we have cars available. Go away.” That was the gist, anyway. Just as we’re about to head to our hostel in a taxi, The Hertz guy waves me over from the other side of the terminal. I literally sprint at top speed to his counter, where he tells me they have a small compact car that was cancelled on the phone minutes earlier. We have five people and five large bags. Small compact car? It has wheels and an engine, so we’re checking price. What might you guess Hertz charges for a car in times of crisis? $1200 per day. That’s right, TWELVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR ONE DAY.
Fortunately, Charlie decides to make one last check with the other companies. Somehow National car rental emerges with a Citroen C4 5-door. Still a compact car, but not quite as tiny. The price? Just $400 including full insurance and 750 kilometers. $60 per day plus $280 to return to a different location. Not totally unreasonable. We commit immediately, pay away, book away, and head straight for our wheels.
Thirty minutes later we’re struggling to close the trunk while duffel bags, pillows, and the like are piled shoulder-high on every passenger but the driver. We’re in, but just barely. Finally a splash of luck on this epic adventure. What’s happening in Dubai, you ask? They’re still stuck in the hotel paying $160 per night to “wait it out.”
The first part of the final leg begins NOW. 1000 miles in 12 hours From Barcelona to Calais via Paris. BRING IT ON!!!