Based in Houston, Texas, GEV is a blog by The GreenEyed Venuist. Her posts explore travel and photography through her green eyes.

Panda...and things to consider when driving abroad.

In Ibiza, we realized that to have any meaningful exploration, we needed a car. The clubs and everything else notable are spread out across the island. But to drive a car in Ibiza, and I'm sure in other foreign countries, you need an international drivers license. 

Among the four of us and all our stuff, we were prepared to do anything from run the world to birth a baby, yet none of us had the foresight to obtain a foreign drivers license. It's safe to say that none of us had ever heard of such. 

So we had no luck at any of the major rental companies. We walked in eager and were sent away defeated. The last place we went to advised us that there might be a place at the end of the street that could help us. I thought maybe it was like a fake id joint. But nah, there was a rental car place with less stringent rules. They rented us a car for the few days we were there, no international license required (Chidi is the only one that could drive a stick, bless her heart)....and this is how we became acquainted with the Panda, panda, panda, panda, panda (I got broads in Atlanta)...and it was the beginning of a great adventure. 

Ok...not that Panda. A Fiat Panda. Basically, the equivalent of a tiny black, gift box shaped clown car. 

First of all....all four of us and our luggage barely fit. Natasha and I were basically sitting on and surrounded by luggage in the back seat. Since we're a group of lawyers and some with engineering backgrounds, we made it work, stuffing the luggage into the car like puzzle piecing and factoring in butt sizes, etc. Then we drove to the northern tip of Ibiza with all this luggage and all these butts. Unfortunately, on the way back from the caves we couldn't figure out how to put the car in reverse. So Natasha, Erin and I had to push the Panda with luggage inside, out of the parking spot. We drove back to the rental company only to have the lady look at us like we were stupid when she pushed the button on the gear shift that allowed it to go in reverse................................thanks for that, rental car lady. Thanks a bunch.

Fiasco #2 was driving up into Ibiza Town with all this heavy luggage...on the steep uphill roads. The luggage and the butts made the car super heavy. Chidi tried to get us up the hill and the car would either roll backwards or stall out. It was such a mess. Eventually, Erin had to take everything out of the car so Chidi could get  up this really steep part of the road, then reload everything and drive it over to the apartment for bag drop.

The pictures below are Ibiza Town. As you can see, the old town is situated above the city and surrounded by a wall....kinda like a fort. So, literally, everything was uphill. I wasn't prepared for Olympic style stair climbing and each time we did this, I felt like death was waiting for me around the next corner. But see how narrow all the streets are? and how steep? For the most part, you can't even drive a car down these streets and you have to have a special resident's permit to park inside the town's walls, preservation mechanism I supposed. Each day we had to find a parking space outside the walls and walk a country mile to the to the town's walls then begin the uphill hike to the apartment.

Fiasco #c was getting pulled over and forced to pay 100 euro for not having out seat belts on in the back seat. If you read my blog, you've already read about all that foolishness. 

The Panda Rental taught us a few things.

  1. I never anticipated driving in a foreign country. I heavily rely on public transit or taxis. But in a place like Ibiza, public transit doesn't really get you to all the places you'd want to go and a taxi may have cost a fortune. So you need to consider this before you get there....especially since now I know you need an international license.
  2. I know for a fact that I wouldn't be able to survive driving on the opposite side of the road in London, for example. So that's another consideration.
  3. Unless you have GPS or a person that knows the roads really well, driving in a place like Costa Rica can really have you shackled. When I was there, I noticed that there wasn't a single street sign and I was so confused as to how the drivers could distinguish one dusty road from the other.
  4. Finally, make sure someone in the group can drive a stick shift. If not, you're gonna be outta luck. Many European cars are manual and the automatic ones are more expensive to rent.

That's all for now....happy traveling, venuists!

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