I have been a lot of places, and a lot of stupid things have happened to me while traveling. So, I thought I would share some of them. My goal is not to make you jealous of my travels, but I totally understand if you are.
My EC and I were enjoying a lovely stay in a small hotel in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. Yes, it looked just like this:
But the trip was far more interesting than that terrible movie with Diane Lane in it. (Not that Diane Lane isn't interesting. I find her fascinating...)
We were renting a Fiat that had a manual transmission. I have never been afraid of the stick, but the shifting in that car was really weird. I often messed up, causing grinding and embarrassment, and my fair share of honks. But it was great fun on the open freeway...!
After we checked out of our hotel, I backed the car out of the parking area directly in front of the hotel. I stopped, shifted into what I thought was 1st, and gave it some gas. It rolled backwards a foot before I hit the brake. I was still in neutral. So I tried again. Another foot backwards.
The problem was, there was only about one more foot between me and the front wall of the hotel. But, being strong-minded (stubborn) I tried one last time. I made sure I had found 1st gear, and eased off the brake - we didn’t roll. I gave it some gas, and I proceeded to run into the front of the hotel - in reverse.
The collision caused a small amount of damage on the bumper of the car, but it put a hole in the hotel wall. Not a big hole, but a hole. In the hotel. Here is a picture that my EC took while as my drama ensued.
Doing my best to suppress curse words, I finally found the stinking 1st gear and sulked back to the parking area. My wife was offering condolences and trying to calm me down as I got out of the car. (I don’t cope with my own incompetence well.)
How many Lira does it take to fix a hole in a hotel? Or is that Euros? Will my AmEx cover it? Am I really the infamous American idiot tourist?
I walked to the office to confess my crime. A lovely Italian woman looked up and asked me, in Italian, if she could help me. Now I speak passable “tourist” Italian, but the words, liability, deductible, and malicious intent were not in my limited vocabulary.
And she didn’t speak English. So I forged ahead... in Italian.
Excuse me? I have a problem.
Yes, may I help you?
I'm sorry, I don't understand.
What is your problem?
I broke your hotel.
I broke your hotel.
How do you mean “I broke your hotel”?
I mean I hit your hotel with my car, and broke it.
How is it broken?
I made a hole in the wall.
Yes, a hole.
With your car?
Yes, with my car.
Is it a big hole?
No, it is this big. (Showing a plate-sized circle with my hands)
Oh, I understand. Please wait here.
She leaves the counter - I’m wondering if the Italians use handcuffs.
A few minutes later she comes back with another non-English speaking Italian woman.
May I help you..
I broke your hotel...
We finish going though the same dance and the second woman says something to the first woman so quickly that she sounds like an Italian auctioneer. They both laugh. This is killing me.
The second lady came up to the counter to give me the news, in English.
Not you worry, you go now.
You don’t need to come see the hole?
Not you worry - you go now.
So, shaking my head, I left, wondering if this was the end of it, or it would show up as an extra charge on my credit card:
Room service: $25.00
In-room movie: $15.00
Plaster and stucco: $750.00
I never heard from them again. Nor did I hear from the guys at the rental counter that were too busy playing cards and smoking to come see the damage to the Fiat.
I like Italians.