Car Me by Your Name

While we would have preferred to travel the world largely by plane and train, there were quite a lot of places we wanted to see (and people we wanted to visit!) that required driving. And so we ended up renting a lot of cars (and one very memorable campervan).

We tasked Fiona with naming them all, which she did in decisive and distinctive style, with monikers ranging from the poetic to the surreal. I recorded them all for posterity, and for our (and now your!) amusement. So without further ado, I present you with our full list of rental car companions:

  • Mist, the Australia Campervan: In retrospect, this was probably a great name to give this big white transport-meets-lodging-mobile, with which we had a vaguely chilly, never-quite-sunshiney relationship.
  • Memory, the Australia car: Fiona named our only other Australian vehicle in alliterative fashion, but ironically, we can’t recall all that much about Memory. What we do know is that she was a reliable mode of transport for our trip from Melbourne to Adelaide and that she was, thank goodness, much smaller and easier to drive than her campervan counterpart.
  • Black Diamond, our Northern Spain car: After a rental car hiatus that lasted through Bali, Singapore, Barcelona and San Sebastian, we started driving again with Black Diamond, who took us all across Northern Spain to see some rather stupendous sights.
  • Silky Darkstream, the Portugal Car: Despite our many adventures in Silky Darkstream—trying not to stall on the narrow, hilly roads of the Douro Valley; navigating tons of traffic and pedestrians in the heart of Porto; trying to find parking in Guimaraes—we only managed to snap one photo of our trusty, all-over-Portugal-mobile. But her name will live on as the hands-down best of the trip. Originally christened “Dark Stream” for her deep gray exterior, she was soon renamed “Silky” after a character on Teen Titans Go! until we realized that we simply had to combine both names to achieve something sublime.
  • Snow Rain, aka Bumblemobile, the Scotland car: C’mon, you guys remember Snow Rain, doncha? Cute little white number? Excellent at transporting visiting grandmas and traversing the Highlands? Extensively photographed in the ditch Dan drove her into? That’s the one. An unfortunate player in the most memorable car-related experience of our trip, Snow Rain was nevertheless a champ, defying her name during our gorgeously sunny (if unfortunateevent-filled) Scottish excursion and rolling with the punches when we briefly renamed her “Bumblemobile” for an insect-themed superhero car game.
  • Black Shine, the Croatia car: After all public transportation all the time in London and Prague, we rented Black Shine at the Split airport so we could get out and about in Croatia. But as it turned out, there was no out and about in Croatia, so aside from one dinner in a neighboring town and a couple of errands, Black Shine wasn’t much more than our to-and-from-the-airport conveyance.
  • Snow Dash, the all-over-Europe car: Not to be confused with Snow Rain, Snow Dash wins the prize for the most countries (plus one principality!) driven through. After Croatia, we biked and cabbed in Berlin and bused in Austria, then took a train to Munich. That was where we rented Snow Dash, and the driving thing was ON: from Munich to Kaufbeuren, Germany, for the weekend, then to lunch in Lichtenstein, followed by a few days in Schweiben, Switzerland, then lunch in Pezzana, Italy, then onto Nice (where the traffic was insane) and Caunes-Minervois in France. PHEW. Beyond this incredible five-country streak, Snow Dash holds a special place in our hearts for a couple of additional reasons: 1. She carried us through our first experience on a car train, and 2. she’s the car Dan was driving when his reckless, 3-km-per-hour-over-the-limit driving triggered a traffic camera in Lichtenstein. Garnering him a Liechtensteinian speeding ticket! Which, for the story alone, is probably 28 Euros well spent.
  • Gem Rock, the Azores car: I don’t like to speak ill of any of our automotive escorts on this trip, but Gem Rock was kinda the worst. (Maybe that’s why I kept forgetting her name, much to Fiona’s annoyance.) An aging Fiat sedan that was bigger than anything we’d driven so far (save the campervan, obvs) and an absolute beast to operate, it made navigating the narrow streets of Ponta Delgada pretty harrowing and driving to all the various sights on the island a sluggish pain in the tail. That said, she did have a roomy hatchback that came in handy for picnicking more than once. So that’s something.
  • Gold Spark, the New England car: Not much to say about Gold Spark, our shortest rental, which we picked up at an office in Plymouth, Massachusetts, that seemed be transported straight from the 1980s (it seemed they’d never heard of WiFi?). Anyway, from there, we drove on to experience the disappointment of The Rock, then to enjoyable stops in Framingham and Amherst and finally to the Burlington airport, where we dropped Gold Spark after just two days so we could thriftily borrow my brother-in-law’s car instead. Goodbye, Gold Spark! Our time together—like our whole trip, perhaps—was too brief, but golden indeed.

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