Last time, our hero and his family couldn’t quite talk with the natives. Today’s adventure: Mis-Driving Crazy!

Getting around in any country generally boils down to communication, currency, and cars (or whatever way you choose to move from A to B). Having already established that the words weren’t always with us and the money accounted for (thanks family), we were barely off the plane before the transportation became an issue.

See, I had attended to the details of reserving the car from Hertz weeks before. I was mindful of the cost (keep it low), the space (tote those bags), and the little one (one booster seat coming up). I felt pretty good about myself because I normally leave these kinds of things to my wife. After 13 hours of flying to Paris and connecting to Nice, nothing snaps you out of jet lag like the realiztion that reason your car is cheap because it’s a manual.

So what? Simple. I don’t drive stick so good, Miss Daisy.

Everyone is nearly collapsed with exhaustion, I’ve finally got the bags all squeezed into the trunk, and I am so jazzed about the push-button ignition and the keycard that slides into place below the radio. I press the clutch, shift gears, prepare to accelerate…and stall the engine. I push the button, clutch, gears…stall. Again. Again. Again. Again. Six times total and I managed to move the stylin’ Renault Laguna from the parking space to the driveway – a whopping 10 feet including the turn.

Meanwhile, I was getting a crash course in the language I couldn’t quite remember in words I’m glad I never learned as I blocked all other renters from the exit. I was really losing it by now and my wife is quietly asking why I didn’t add her as an approved driver.

The problem turned out to be some combination of not enough pressure on the accelerator and a not-quite-fully disengaged parking brake. Resolving this, I floored the gas and launched us out into the service road and on the way through fits and lurches to our first hotel.

Day One. Just begun.

Join us next time for: On the road again!


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