Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Goodbye Renault, Hello Seat and the UK

The car saga continued, the Renault just did not appreciate having a new tire and being clean. We set off from the Taylor's to drive up the Mosel river road and then over to drive down the Rhine. All was going well until Beth said I hope the car problems are behind us. I assured her that all was well and we would have no problems for the rest of the trip. Soon after, a wrench symbol appeared on the dash and a message in French that said something about an injection controller problem. We pulled off the road to look at the owner's manual, which of course is in French, but it did not provide us with anything we could understand. When I went thru the restart sequence, the car always does a number of checks before starting. It gave us a big OK, so down the road we went. Of course, the problem light came on again. But after a 'reboot' it said it was OK, it did not seem to have the same power, but we thought it might fix itself with a few more kilometers.

We had a very nice drive along the Mosel and a very scenic drive along the Rhine. We knew we were probably going to have to call Renault on Monday to let them know that the car was giving us this message, but it kept going away so we didn't think there was anything seriously wrong. How wrong I was, both about no further car problems and nothing serious.

The water level in the Rhine river is lower than most people can remember. People are able to walk almost to the middle of the river and the channel for the transport boats is very narrow and I was told they can only take partial loads. We took a few pictures of the numerous castles along our way and stopped in Bacharach. Beth thought she remembered that this was the town that Laura and Lisa had stayed during their Europe trip in 2002. We found a place to park and walked thru the town and then went up a street and found the pension that they stayed in. We went to the door and asked the owner if she remembered Laura and Lisa. She was very nice and thought she remembered the two girls. We then went to a Rick Steves recommended ice cream store to have Spaghetti Ice. We bought the Kinder size since we were scheduled to attend a dinner party later in Wiesbaden.

We started on our drive to Wiesbaden and along the way the Renault showed us the injection message again, but this time in red! This was not a good sign but since we were close to the dinner party location we continued on. Once there, I contacted Renault and told us what the car was telling us. They suggested waiting a half hour and doing a reboot to see if the message would go away. It did not. Renault told me that the next step was to get the car towed to the nearest Renault dealer. The Taylor's were attending this dinner party given by Peter Yaeger who next year will have worked at Stripes for 50 years which is amazing. It was a fun time with very good wurst and more than enough varied liquid refreshments. The towing company came and I drove the Renault onto the flatbed tow truck. We would ride home with the Taylor's and deal with the car on Monday.

After many calls with Renault in France, with the Renault dealer, with Renault in Germany, and then with a car rental agency, we ended up with a replacement car, a Seat Leon. Early on during these discussions, we were told we could not take a rental car overseas to the UK. I asked if we took it on the Chunnel train it would be ok since it would be underwater. They were not amused. When the rental person delivered the car they wrote on the rental agreement that we could take the car to the UK. We finally left the Taylor's after four and headed to an ibis hotel in Aalst, Belgium. The next morning, we got online to look for what ferry to take. I learned that there was one from Oostende directed to Ramsgate, England. It is a longer boat ride, but less driving on both ends, plus since we will be returning within 48 hours, we only have to pay the one-way fare.

We drove the few miles from the ferry to my cousin Jane's house and had a very nice dinner and visit with her family. We even got to watch old home Marquesen family movies. It was neat to see my Mom, Jane's mom and dad and my grandpa as the movies were from the 50's and 60's. We got to bed late but the visit was well worth it. Tomorrow, we expect to tour a bit in this corner of England, if I can remember to stay Left!


  1. Stay left young man! I will be again using my world atlas to see exactly where in the world you went! Looking forward to pictures of Jolly Olde England.

  2. Two typos. One made me cringe. The other made me laugh out loud. Fantastic.

    CHEERIO! See you Saturday!