PDA stands for President's Day Adventures, in this case. ;)Click here to read Part 1! Click here to read Part 2! Click here to read Part 3!
Welcome back! If you're just joining us, please use the links above to read parts one, two, and three.
Monday morning, Presidents' Day, we got up, checked out of the hotel, and enjoyed a final, delightful breakfast at the Caffe Della Poste. Before we left on Sunday, we had communicated to our favorite barista (with our limited Italian and her limited English), that we would be returning on Monday and would prefer to eat our weight in Brioche Nutella before heading home! She did not disappoint and we were all well-sated before we drove away from beautiful Chiavari.
The plan was to make the simple, easy drive back to Hohenfels by early evening, and get a good night's rest before returning to real life on Tuesday. (Real life meaning work for Austin and Shane, and PWOC's Valentine's Day Date Night babysitting duty for the four of us on Tuesday evening.)
On the way home we engaged in typical road trip behavior, including singing along to the radio! As we entered a tunnel, I started video taping the guys' rendition of "Girl on Fire" and got way more than I bargained for! Check it out:
As soon as we got out of the tunnel, Austin took the next available exit and parked us at a gas station/truck stop. He proceeded to call our roadside assistance company (Praise the Lord for the insurance that included roadside assistance!), and the person at the other end of the line promised to send a tow truck. The time was around 9:00am.
While we waited for our tow, we had another cappuccino. We were still in Italy, after all! ;)
At around 11:00am, a tow truck made its way into the lot where we were parked. The driver parked, hopped out of his truck, and sauntered over to us. He was tall and thick, with dark, slicked-back hair, and aviators. He seemed to already be in a foul mood, and encountering a group of Americans who spoke very little Italian didn't do anything to improve his disposition. He started rattling off a lot of Italian, and we were able to decipher that he intended to take us back into Chiavari, from whence we had just come. We tried to communicate to him that the roadside assistance company had promised us a tow to Genoa, where the nearest Toyota dealership was located. While I tried to make him understand, in my sorely-lacking Italian, Austin got back on the phone with the roadside assistance company, hoping that someone there could speak to the driver in his own language and placate him to the point of cooperation. He would have none of it; however, and the conversation disintegrated into him waving his arms around, shouting, "Domani, domani, domani!" (Italian for "tomorrow"!), and angrily getting back into his truck, slamming it into gear, and roaring away, back down the autostrada, leaving us stranded and utterly bereft.
At this point, Austin got back on the phone with the roadside assistance company. After a series of phone calls, they informed us that they would not be sending another tow truck since we had, "Sent the first driver away." Another flurry of phone calls ensued (very expensive phone calls, I might add, since we were on a German cell phone plan and calling German numbers from Italy, but more on that later). Austin was finally able to convince the roadside assistance people that it was absolutely imperative for them to send another tow truck and get us to Genoa TODAY, not tomorrow (since we all had important things to do tomorrow, not the least of which was Shane, for whom missing work would mean being AWOL. Not an insignificant problem in the Army.)! A couple of hours, and several cappuccinos, later a second tow truck carrying a much more genial driver arrived and loaded us up! The time was now around 3:54pm :P
Knowing we were in the middle of a great adventure, we made sure to chronicle the saga via video log:
The second tow truck driver (who was the first one to actually tow us anywhere), switched us to a third tow truck in Levante, and we made our way to the Toyota dealership in Genoa, and what we hoped would be a quick fix to get us back on the road in time for work on Tuesday!
We survived the trip, which was a little harrowing for us girls in our perch, and arrived at the Toyota dealership in Genoa around 5pm. The dealership thankfully didn't close until 7pm, and the technicians were able to get the Prius hooked up to the diagnostic computer right away.
That was the end of the good news; however, as the problem was much larger than we could have fathomed, and there was no way it could be fixed that evening. Poor Austin got back on the phone with our auto insurance company to determine whether or not they wanted to fix the car in Genoa, or have it towed, long-distance back to Germany for repairs to occur there. Alternately he got in touch with the roadside assistance company to work on another way home. They were hesitant to commit to paying for train tickets, but we knew that would be the quickest way home and much cheaper than a one-way rental car. After a lot more time on the phone (racking up the long-distance, international roaming charges), and some quick conversations with the Italian mechanics, and an even quicker huddle with our traveling buddies, we decided to head to the train station (hoping that the roadside assistance company would end up paying for our travel), and the insurance company determined that it would be best to have the car shipped back to Germany for repairs.
We gathered all of our belongings out of the Prius, and prepared to leave the dealership as the employees were calling it a night. One of the mechanics, who spoke really good English, offered -- several times -- to call a taxi to take us to the train station, but we were convinced (thanks to our trusty GPS apps) that we could easily walk and save the expense of a taxi. (Insert ironic smile)
Austin took a moment to sum up the situation as we stood outside the dealership:
Join us again next time for Part 5 - the saga of getting home has only just begun!