Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Exploding Tyre

Hello from Venice, which was even better than I expected. I've enjoyed every single moment of this wonderful holiday so far - - - except for when the tyre exploded as we were driving along the motorway.

I say "we" - - - it was teamwork. Stephen was driving, Silverback was navigating and I was making sure I would be fully alert by having a little snooze in the back.

I awoke to a very very loud bang of the kind you don't want to hear coming from behind you whilst travelling in any kind of motor vehicle.

Stephen managed to pull onto the hard shoulder and we surveyed the damage, which was a bare wheel where a tyre should have been and some damage to the bodywork too.

My first thought was to ring the assistance provided by Budget and get them to rescue us, since we were on a very dangerous stretch of road with big lorries roaring past. This I did, and it required all the Italian that I could muster. They kept ringing back and saying they couldn't find us even though Silverback had given me the exact co-ordinates from the GPS and the exact roads that we could pass on.

But more immediately I was aware that Silverback was saying quietly and persistently that we should get off the road. It was a concrete barrier and I scrambled over it with assistance from Stephen and Silverback and we were now in between two concrete barriers - a bit scary but not too dangerous.

An Italian driver kindly stopped to see if we needed help but at that moment the tow truck finally turned up. We had to be lifted up onto the truck still in the car. He drove us to the nearest Ford garage, shut in the car high up on the truck, and I waited for him to let us out.

But he didn't. There was a huge long kerfuffle as the Ford garage didn't have a new tyre, or wheel, or whatever was needed, and the driver just left us up in the car with no explanation. And it was getting hotter and hotter.

After a while I could stand it no more. Since 1984, when I was shut in a room, unable to get out, whilst in labour with my first baby and nobody believing me - - - well, I just don't DO being shut in with no information.

So with a suitable dramatic cry in my best Italian I made it quite clear that unless he let me out of there I was going to jump off the truck. So, rather rapidly, he did. And I rode with him in the truck back to their base where it became obvious that we'd have to get a whole new hire car as they couldn't mend this one until at least Monday, and it was now only Thursday. Truck Man just kept muttering that it was "a disaster".

The garage staff back at his base were really helpful though Budget expected us to do all the work ourselves and I don't think that the garage staff understood how expensive it was for me to make all the calls from my mobile. Never mind that we had been involved in a really scary near-accident, were stuck in the middle of nowhere with a car that couldn't be driven and a garage about to close for the night - - - Budget's great contribution was "You will have to pay for the new wheel." Sadly I didn't know the Italian for "Sod off"!

Finally the roadside assistance lot found us a new car, from a different hire company, Avis in Piacenza, fairly near, and we got a taxi there. Some confusion ensued as they expected us to bring the new car back to Piacenza, in the North - - - but I said very firmly that we weren't coming back that way, we were going to Venice, and they finally accepted that.

So we'll land back in Rome eventually we'll have no car from Budget that should be there - - and a car from Avis that belongs in Piacenza - - and if Budget try to charge us for the whole holiday we shall NOT be pleased.

But it made me very glad indeed that I'd worked on my Italian before the trip! And I must say that almost all the Italians were really helpful.

And today we've been in Venice. This Eee doesn't always work even with wifi and Silverback has put some great photos on his blog of our previous travels - - I'm sure that photos of Venice will follow.

We've been to Rome, Siena, rural Tuscany, Pisa, Viareggio, Lake Como and, just today, the amazingly beautiful Venice. They have all been wonderful and Stephen and Silverback have been wonderful travelling companions, of course! I'll tell you more soon.


Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

It is a shame that the exploding tyre incident and what followed thereafter has got in the way of you waxing lyrical about Venice which is more incredible than people say it is. I hope you also took the ferry to Burano which is differently amazing.

12:12 am  
Blogger Debby said...


1:12 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

I am thoroughly enjoying this trip of yours from both your and Ian's perspective! Except about the tyre/tire incident.

I would say "Bummer" but you Brits might misunderstand this Americanism. In America, bummer is a noun, an expression of sympathy, meaning roughly "How depressing!" or "I feel your pain." It is NOT, I hasten to add, a verb, which, when combined with your Britishness, might lead the three of you to take actions resulting in another interesting post.

3:51 pm  

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