This was our final day in Catalonia and the original plan was to pack our bags into the boot (trunk) of the car and drive to Girona and put it in a car park for the day but as I told you earlier the car we had been allocated didn’t have a boot (trunk), so still fearful of being robbed, we changed our plans and drove directly to our final hotel at Girona airport to leave our bags and to return the vehicle.
I was still annoyed by the car hire scam of selling me an overpriced tank of fuel and challenging me to bring it back empty so I was determined that I would do exactly that. When we left Besalú the trip computer told me that we had enough fuel for about sixty kilometres and I calculated that the airport was just slightly less than that so with a feather like foot on the accelerator (gas) pedal and with the air-conditioning system turned off we tip-toed our way sedately to Girona.
Our walking pace drive irritated local drivers now and again and once I was almost tempted to visit a fuel station and buy a thimble full of diesel but I resisted the moment of temporary self doubt and just kept going trying to shut out the nagging reminder from the dashboard controls that I should urgently refuel.
This reminded me of a holiday in Lanzarote in 1982 when six of us hired a Daihatsu jeep and when we collected it the fuel tank was practically empty. My brother Richard was really annoyed and determined to take it back in the same state so towards the end of the hire period we pulled into a filling station:
‘two hundred por favor’
‘two hondred?’ the man scratched his head and looked confused and then turning to us said, ‘two hondred – not enough room in tank!’
We looked confused but then after a short debate we realised what he meant and Richard was rather more specific – ‘no, not litres – pesetas!’
Now this was the equivalent of about seventy-five pence so this required great precision on his part to deliver only just the required miniscule amount into the tank. We handed him two one hundred peseta notes and he walked away shaking his head and in apparently total disbelief repeating over and over to himself ‘two hondred, two hondred…’ ‘two hondred, two hondred…’ and we fell about and almost wet ourselves laughing.
As we got closer to the airport the fuel indicator needle dropped off of the dashboard gauge all together, the digital display said only enough fuel for ten kilometres and the refuel warning light was flashing madly like in a James Bond movie indicating only ten seconds to Armageddon but we were very close now and I was certain that I could do it so eased off the throttle even more and coasted towards the hotel. At one stage I took a wrong turning which could have been disastrous but I quickly corrected that and gratefully pulled into the hotel car park.
We were too early to check in but the staff locked our bags away and then, as there was an hour to wait for the next bus into Girona we sat and had a beer before returning the car. When I got back into the driving seat to my horror the computer still said ten kilometres of fuel left so I took it for a ride around the airport circuit road a couple of times until it had dropped to five and then satisfied with this achievement I took it back to the Solmar rental office and smugly handed back the keys.
At this point I am tempted to offer some car hire advice but I cannot do better than include here a comment recently received from my friend Dai Woosnam from Grimsby:
“In the past fifteen months I have flagged-up my car hire specials to cover a month long hire in April 2012 (2 weeks in Boston, Mass, and 2 weeks in Seattle, Washington); a month long hire in Washington, DC to drive down to Daytona Beach, Florida, last August); a week’s hire in Murcia, Spain, last November; and a week’s hire in Faro, Portugal in March 2013. I have told you that I did the following:
1. Took out FULL worldwide car rental insurance for £80 a year.
2. Hired the car via an Irish agent who took a tiny 5 euros for each booking.
3. Collected the car of my choice from the relevant airport each time. At ridiculously cheap prices.
To give you an idea:on the last trip we got a nearly new gutsy Fiat quite capable of carrying a huge fatso like me up the steep hills of old Lisbon! and paid the guy at Faro airport, an astonishing 29 euros for 7 full days!!
So that is a TOTAL of 34 euros (about £30) INCLUDING the Irish agent’s commission!
And also you will get the car you want, plus the way you want it (collect full/return full).”
Dai writes an excellent eclectic monthly digest including great tips like these. If you want to subscribe then write to him at DaiW@gmx.com and he will mail a regular copy.
So, mission accomplished and feeling rather pleased with ourselves we had a second beer on the terrace of the hotel and waited the final few minutes before the scheduled time of our bus into the city of Girona.