Three days with our fiat 500 rental car (which we named Roxanne) was three days too many. She took us on an emotional rollercoaster from hell: one minute we were driving through the English countryside jamming out to the radio and the next minute we were fearing for our lives. Yes, that might sound dramatic, but it’s the truth.
On day one, Caroline had to drive through the entire city of Oxford…with a stickshift…on the opposite side of the road. Like any major European city, the roads are obnoxiously narrow, people jaywalk like it’s their job and trucks are ruthless. I broke out in a nervous sweat as Caroline fearlessly drove Roxanne to the carpark. We were only one turn away when Roxanne just stopped-right in the middle of a busy intersection. Crap, crap, crap. I jumped out of the car and begged a random man on the street to help us while Caroline tried to restart it. Another man also helped us push her to a side street, telling us how he too had car trouble in Greece, “You just gotta learn to laugh at yourself,” he said. Oh, if only he knew.
Not being ones to back down from a challenge, we decided to give Roxanne another shot as we made our way to the small village of Miserden in the Cotswolds. Everything went without a hitch: we passed through small towns, took to the highway and finally got the experience we were looking for-a scenic road trip down the English countryside. Finding our small Airbnb cottage was an adventure of its own. We went through backroads that gave me a heart attack every time we rounded a corner. At one point, we even had to reverse up a steep hill to let a truck pass. But miraculously we made it! To celebrate, we took selfies with Roxanne to prove that the two of us COULD do this. Little did we know what Roxanne had in store for us the next day…
Excited to explore more of the Cotswolds, Caroline and I planned to drive to Stow on the Wold. Just 20 minutes into our drive, Roxanne turned off again. She went into this weird state of being partially off, but not to the point where we could restart her. Luckily, two men helped us push her off the dirt road. Sidenote: It was amazing how much people were willing to come to our rescue. Every time we needed a push, someone was there. So shoutout to all of the kind strangers (who became our new best friends) in England!
The next hour was spent trying to get a repairman out to see why Roxanne was being a pain. Good ol’ Nigel spent another hour with us trying to replicate the problem, but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. He told us to drive it to the next Europcar station and exchange her. Really Nigel? Do you think it’s a good idea to leave us with a defective car? At this point, we both despised Roxanne for wasting our day. We made it back out onto the highway during rush hour (yay :/) and had to make a U-turn at a super dangerous intersection. So what does Roxanne do? Yep, she turns off.
At this point, I was convinced that Roxanne was trying to kill us. People started cursing at us, honking incessantly and speeding around us. After a few frantic calls to Nigel, who was probably about to block us from his phone, we finally made it over to the shoulder and waited 2 HOURS for a tow truck.
As we sat on the side of the road, getting angrier and angrier at Roxanne, she decided to have one final meltdown. Every button on the car was flashing, she was telling us to check every part of the car. With a final flicker of the lights, her freak out was complete and she died. Both pissed, hungry and desperate for a bathroom, we jumped into the taxi without a second glance at the “eco-friendly” piece of trash that was Roxanne. After getting a refund at Europcar, we splurged on McFLurrys and started booking train tickets for our next destination. Public transportation never sounded so good.