“Plan B, scratch that, Plan C”
The warmth of the engine heated my hands; which were planted on the hood of the car, and my calves burned as I pushed with all my might. Here we were, high in the mountains of Austria and our van had broken down AGAIN. Being too nervous to steer the van backward on the motorway, I quickly opted to be the one to push us the 500 ft we needed to get off the road.
With the van safely parked at the gas station, we popped the hood but I already knew it was something major. A few phone calls, with the help of the pleasant gas station attendant who, being bilingual, kindly volunteered to be our translator and we had a tow truck on the way.
It didn’t take the mechanic more than 5 minutes to come to the conclusion I expected. The timing belt had broken, and the damage would cost more to repair then what the van was worth.
To make the situation worse, Marko had taken many of his belongings from England with us since the original plan was to drive all the way down Italy and then back up and take the ferry to Spain where we were going to rent an apartment.
So here we were, stranded in Austria with loads of stuff, no transportation, a 12 week old puppy and a shattered plan.
We packed the most valuable things from the van: a few clothes and a big bag of puppy chow (which I told Rocky he should really be the one to carry, like he can understand me) and we headed to a local hotel in order to regroup.
We felt defeated. The wind had been stolen from our sails. “So much for the GPS Garmin we just bought, without a car that’s any use.” Marko commented.
We took a few days to recover from the devastating hit; we became frequent visitors of the local bakery.
We explored and I found taking photos to be a nice distraction.
Buy another car in Austria – not possible (need an Austrian address, no getting around it)
Rent a car – nope (way too expensive)
Left with what seemed to be our only remaining option – to go on foot and take the train to Italy.
We returned to the auto garage, we unloaded everything from the van and created 3 piles; keep, ditch and “are we seriously going to have no choice but to leave this?’.
We both felt depressed, Rocky looked at the van and whimpered (probably sensing our emotions or maybe he was just hungry but it seemed appropriate). I patted his head and told him I was sad too.
We walked back to the hotel, carrying more stuff than we would be able to continue on with, knowing we would need to eliminate more, reluctantly.
Most of the items we had to part with were Marko’s, like his golf clubs, a big blanket from his childhood, the majority of our camping gear, a painting easel that was a gift from his parents.
I tried to help him detach sentimentally, looking only at weights and monetary replacement value. I felt like an insurance claims person, “Look here, I found your set of golf clubs on Ebay, for only 30 pounds. They would cost more to ship back, it would be best to leave them.”
You can only let the feeling of defeat overtake you for a moment; if you have no wind for your sails then it is time to pick up the oars and row.
And that is what we did. We made our final trip to the auto garage and signed over the van, feeling an odd mix of loss and relief. A decision was made, and with that comes a sense of empowerment. It was time to move on, although less conveniently.
Armed with a new plan to continue on foot, 3 too many bags and puppy who is just happy to be by our side we got train tickets to Italy.
We boarded the train, next stop Verona Italy…