Today started out at the Malaga airport where my husband and I went to pick up our rental van to travel around Andalucía, the southern portion of Spain. We finally found Avis on the dingy bottom floor of the car park. It is a Mercedes 9 passenger van, enough for 7 of us, plus our luggage.
Drove back to the hotel to pick up the family. Very stressful loading the luggage, as the back hatch wouldn't open, plus there was no parking. Our van was positioned in the middle of a busy intersection, and we were shoving large suitcases and duffle bags over the back seat from the inside. Also, we couldn't figure out how to put the van in reverse, so three of us plus the bellman from the hotel were madly paging through the drivers manual trying to discover the mysteries of our vehicle. We had to hunt down a hotel guest to move their Smart Car, as it had been parked just inches from our front bumper, with a scooter to the side, and another car inches behind. Finally, with the Smart Car removed, we could steer forward into the traffic. Family complaining.
We returned to airport to exchange the van for a new one with a working hatch. Someone in the European passenger van manufacturing division didn't get the memo that Mercedes were supposed luxurious. The window weather stripping was falling off, the stick shift was rough, and the interior was grimy. But we forged ahead in our swapped van, stopping in a village named Ronda for lunch.
The guide book directed us to a quaint restaurant on the edge of a park. My husband let us out of the van, but soon discovered there was no place to park, as all of the spaces had filled up with the cars of like-minded tourists. The family sat down at a table to eat, while my husband continued to search for parking. He orbited the park about 12 times. With each pass, I would deliver some tapas and eventually his entire lunch plate to him, as it soon became obvious that no parking place would ever appear. We finished lunch, he pulled the van over, loaded up and we headed on down the road.
Andalucía has some terrific rabbit dishes, so my sons ordered the house rabbit special for lunch. Nice to be with adventurous eaters. More than anything we enjoyed the spread eagle, head attached presentation of the bunny on the plate. However, I could have done without the after dinner puppet show performed by my sons with the leftovers.
We drove on to Arcos de La Frontera. The family continued to complain regarding GPS coordinates, road quality, air conditioning, bathrooms and lack thereof...I tried desperately to have an out of body experience. I imagined myself floating out of the van's window into the peaceful air, tethered to earth by a silvery strand, so often described by Shirley McLane. No luck. Had to listen to gobs of arguing, fighting and complaints. Gobs and gobs.