Everything was going very smoothly … until we landed at Geneva Airport and had to fetch our rental van. This was, unbeknownst to us, not a typical rental from the airport.
We were expecting to land at the airport and ask for the AutoEurope office – except no-one had any idea where it was!! We found a telephone number and Mr B called, only to be confronted with a French-speaking individual. “Parlez avec ma femme”, he instructed, and handed the phone over to me. Now I can make myself understood when I have access to *eye contact, *gestures and *lip-reading but over-the-phone, pas du tout!!
Eventually the gentleman, who was Arabic managed to convey to me, in broken English, where to meet him.
He arrived 15 minutes later in a neon green van. “Wow”, we thought. “We’ll certainly stand out!!” We packed in our luggage and took numerous photographs to share with our friends.
It all came to a head when the gentleman asked Mr B where he would like to sit. Thinking this was a joke, he said that since he was the driver, he thought it appropriate that he sit in the driver’s seat. “No, that is not allowed!” came the reply and then, after a moment’s hesitation … “Oh, you thought this was your car!”
He proceeded to drive us to a destination, half-an-hour away, in France, to collect our van. To our great relief, it was grey.
After almost 24 hours of traveling, we still had a four-hour drive ahead of us! Mr B did so well driving on the *right* side of the road. These are his words:
“We had about a 4 hour drive to Eguisheim and stopped for baquettes on the way. Filling up with petrol was amusing but not too difficult. Had to focus quite a bit on the roads to remember to drive on the right side. Only hit the pavement twice😂as my distance and perception is slightly out being on the opposite side”.
We arrived in Eguisheim and I called our hosts. “Hello”, came the response. Now I know that, in France, it’s normal for people to say “Allo” when answering a telephone call so I rattled on in French … “we have arrived at the apartment but we’re not sure where to park”. “I think you have the wrong number”. “Oh! Are you not William in Eguisheim, France?” “No! I live in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa!!”
Realising that I had not used the dialling code for France and my call had been directed to South Africa, I corrected my error and contacted William. He said he’d be there in ten minutes. My French must have been ‘interesting’ because he and his wife stopped on the way to fetch a friend who was an English teacher, to act as a translator 🙈
De tout façon… we have arrived safely and we have everything we need! Our hosts gave us a gifts of a local Alsacienne cake and a bottle of sparkling wine that we enjoyed after lunch the next day.