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Déjà vu all over again (Avi here)

Second of two posts tonight!

sunny 25 °C
View Europe 2023 on AvrilAbroad's travel map.

In December 1969 I left London, where I had been working, to meet up with Ruth who was travelling from New York. She was on her way to Trieste where a friend was getting married. It was a fun wedding and we celebrated Christmas with the groom's family. "We" means Ruth and I, along with Jane and Helen, two more friends of the bride who figured a trip to Italy in December made a lot of sense.

So we rented ourselves a car – a little Fiat 500 – and the four of us (with our luggage) piled in and headed for Rome. I drove (nobody else knew standard transmission), and we laughed and sang ourselves to Venice. It was on the way to Florence, uphill over the Apennines mountain range, that the Fiat 500 began its slow death. It laboured at every hill as I abandoned 5th gear, downshifting to 4th to hold steady as we watched car after car pass us. In Florence I discovered that 5th gear simply no longer existed.

But soon even 4th was barely getting us up the hills, and I was doing much of the highway in 3rd. Slowly. And the topic of our laughter and singing shifted to our absurd situation. Somewhere around Siena I realized 3rd gear was in serious trouble, and by the time we approached Rome I was rolling downhill in 2nd. I entered Rome driving with only 1st gear functioning. We were crawling (much to the honking annoyance of the Italian drivers behind) and at some point, on some busy access road, our little Fiat 500 gave up the ghost completely.

Somewhere we found a pay phone (remember, this was 1969) and called the rental company. They told us to just leave it where it was and go. So the four of us loaded up our backpacks and found a bus to the city centre. Whatever happened to the Fiat 500 I never learned.

I told this story to Avril last week as we hit the highways in Portugal. Told it because Portugal is very hilly and our car was labouring on the hills. Told it because I was downshifting to get a steady speed (80 km/h in a 120 km/h zone) as car after car passed us. Told it because we were driving a Fiat 500.

And it was OK (albeit somewhat slow) until this morning. Then, heading out of Coimbra to visit some rock villages in the hill country, it happened again. Death by Fiat. It simply died on an uphill and refused to start.

No pay phones this time. Our trusty cell phones and Google Translate, and a half hour later a tow truck was there to cart away the body. Followed by the cab that is now driving us over an hour north to Porto Airport and the car rental company. There we get a replacement vehicle and head south again for over an hour back to Coimbra! What fun!

[45 minutes later] Arghhh! We just got our replacement car – a Fiat 500!!



Posted by AvrilAbroad 23:09 Archived in Portugal Tagged road_trip driving portugal fiat car_rental

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Laugh out loud! You both are great story-tellers
Love the thrice 'told because....' build up to the punch line.


by Carole Christoher

OMG - rather you than me. You do know what FIAT stands for don't you? First in all troubles😂😂. Better luck next time Avi. I'm sure you'll never hire a Fiat ever again. Looks like you're having an amazing trip. Keep posting and enjoying. Love always

by Desre

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