In July, we bought the coolest, most adorable Alfa Romeo Giulietta. It was as beautiful as all Italian things are — color, design, nifty little extras, hidden back door handles, a fast engine with good horsepower. Leave it to the Italians to give your car a pretty name so you don’t have to think of one. It took us 5 days to be able to test drive it because the keys were locked in this super-secure, state of the art lockbox, and only one guy had the key. Said fellow was on holiday. Most of the keys for the cars on the lot were in this box, so I guess, despite five people on the clock at the dealership, they weren’t planning to sell any cars until his return, which was 10 days away. In the meantime, Demetri went downtown to get what is essentially a Tax ID number so all taxes on the car could be paid properly and expeditiously. Smooth as butter. Insurance was purchased. No problem. At the last minute, and I don’t recall why, there were paperwork problems. Papou rescued us; Demetri picked up the car. We went for a lovely drive that evening down the coast. We had visions of road trips to the Peloponnese, to northern Greece, heck, maybe even to France. The next morning it would not start. At all. We jumped it. Surely it just needed to be driven a bit. We went to IKEA. It wouldn’t start. Papou rescued us. (Anyone sensing a theme?) We drove almost an hour to Marathon for George’s 7th birthday party. Surely a long drive would fix the issue. It didn’t start.
We returned the car the following day. And then we went on a couple of vacations (Peloponnese and Rodos) in rental cars and put the car off until school started. We became intermediate experts of the public transportation system – bus, tram, metro, and Taxibeat, which is basically Uber for cabs. And we borrowed Papou’s car a few times also.
The boys still scream “GUILIETTA!” with great delight every time we pass one.
Two months later, i.e., this week, Demetri, weary of online car research and the debates in his own head (how old is too old? a tiny car is good for parking and ferries; a larger car will protect us all better. Diesel might be easier to resell because of the cost of gas), he went to test drive three cars that had risen to the top of his long, detailed spreadsheet. He came back having purchased one of them — a Citroen that is small enough to park, large enough to protect us in a crash, an efficient engine that has some power to get up the Greek mountains, new enough to have some decent technology, old enough to justify the cost. The color is ‘cafe.’ How quintessentially, adorably French.
We remain optimistic despite having been here before. The good news is that all of the car keys were accessible and test driving was no problem. A new battery & full check-up is guaranteed. Paperwork seemed to go smoothly, though we are expecting some sort of paperwork crisis in a few days just because it’s how Greeks roll. (Last time it was that we didn’t have Greek ID, except we do — our visas — but it’s not acceptable even though it’s official or something. We are still confused about that.) Papou will (say it with me) rescue us if that happens again. So, a few more days and we expect to have wheels.
About that: it takes a week or so between purchase and possession. Unlike the US, the license plate is assigned to the car for its life, rather than being assigned to the driver. That means the dealership handles getting the plates assigned to you and all of the other DMV-like tasks, but that process doesn’t move quickly.
I hope writing about it doesn’t jinx it. On the other hand, the story will get even funnier with another chapter.