I had the perfect road trip planned for the romantic getaway my husband, Karol, booked for us in the south of France. I had different routes planned for there and back to maximize how much we saw along the way. I had things planned to the approximate time of day (with leeway) and we had so many places to see! I was so excited! But, the two things I didn’t account for, were our car breaking down and state holidays.
How Our Road Trip was Supposed to Go
My route was simple. We would to stop in Nuremberg, Strasbourg, Dijon and Lyon until we got to Saze, France (with stops along the way to rest). I planned on taking lots of pictures along the way, making pit stops whenever we saw something interesting and taking our time. What we had wanted to do and what ended up happening were worlds apart.
On our first day of the trip, we set off for Germany, where we took a decent break in Nuremberg. We explored the streets and the walls of the inner city, checked out some shops, we sat down for lunch and a drink and grabbed some coffee. We spent several hours in Nuremberg, happy for the break along our trip. When it started to rain and it slowly began to get darker, we left for our next destination.
And Trouble Comes
It was somewhere 10 km before Ansbach that our car started acting funny. The right front wheel was vibrating and Karol had trouble controlling the car. Fortunately, we were right in front of a rest stop, so we quickly pulled over. We checked the wheels and tried to diagnose the problem on the spot. It looked like we either had a brake or disc problem. Well, we figured that was fine. We’d get it fixed at some shop.
What ensued were several calls to our insurance company and them calling local areas around to get us some help. We were lucky there was a BMW service in Ansbach. The insurance company said they would put us up in a hotel, and that we would have a tow driver come and take us to the dealership (mind you, this is around 7pm, so the dealership was already closed). We had to repack and take only some of our stuff to the hotel as the tow truck didn’t have enough space for the driver, me and Karol, Marley, and on top of all that, our suitcases.
The tow truck driver was very nice, although he spoke limited English. But Karol remembered some words from his High School German classes, so we managed to communicate. The good news was that Ansbach was a nice little town and the hotel was right in the center (so that we would have something to do). The bad news: it was a Wednesday. The next day was Chorpus Christi and we were in Bavaria, the most religious region of Germany. The driver was telling us how no one would be working. No one. This meant… no auto service the next day.
Feeling Stranded & Defeated
I was defeated. Honestly. At this time, I was still a very high stress person when it came to things not going to plan (I still am sometimes. I hate being late to places and hate to keep people waiting). I was uber upset about everything that happened, and I started freaking out about how we were going to miss our trip (we were supposed to be in France on Friday, but the service wasn’t going to be able to even look at the car until then).
I didn’t know what to do. Karol tried to comfort me, but I really wasn’t having any of it. I just didn’t like the idea of missing a couple days of our road trip. It also meant, that we wouldn’t be able to make any of our stops on the way to Provence, as we were going to waste a lot of time in Ansbach.
So after checking into our hotel, we went to the nearby gas station and bought a bottle of wine and some late night snacks and then snuggled into bed for the night. I sort of hoped that we would wake up the next morning and the auto service would magically be open.
Exploring Ansbach, Germany
In the morning, I was feeling a little bit less upset about the situation. We tried calling the auto service, but there was no one there. Instead of letting this bother me further, I started googling places for us to see in Ansbach and somewhere where we could take Marley for a long walk. Thankfully, there were gardens close to the hotel. So we ate breakfast and set out to enjoy our unexpected day off.
The Hofgarten was a great place to walk with Marley. The gardens are part of the Ansbach Residenz and they contain a large park, orangerie and beautiful flower beds. We spent the good part of the morning here, throwing the ball for Marley, marveling at the old trees and watching as the Chorpus Christi mass procession walked through the park gardens (like I said, they take this holiday seriously).
We came out on the other end of the gardens, to find ourselves on Promenade. There, we discovered what looked to be like the beginning of the old town. So we decied to cross Promenade and explore the old town. But before we went on to do that, we sat down at a lovely cafe and ordered some coffee and delicious ice cream at Eiscafe Castello.
As we started to head into old town, we realized it was quite busy. Busier than you would expect. So after our coffee and ice cream, we decided to find out where everyone was going.
We were in luck! People may not have been working, but they were definitely celebrating! We came upon a festival of some sorts, where there were a lot of food and drink stands, people selling handmade goods, a stage for musicians and activities for kids. We were in shock. Just several hours ago we watched a solemn church procession, and now people were drinking beers and having fun.
But at least we had something to do!
We happily perused the stalls and tried a bunch of German style street food. I also tried brick oven potato pizza, and I have to say, it was delicious! We grabbed some beers and wandered the streets, which were filled with creative acts and activities for everyone. We also came upon a wine stall, so we grabbed a bottle, had it opened, and headed to a garden area to sit in the sun and drink our wine and relax. It was a perfect, spontaneous afternoon. We ended the day with some more street food and beer and headed back to the hotel. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better time and place to be stuck in the middle of somewhere on a holiday.
More Bad News for Us
The next day, we went to the dealer and sat there forever. The head service technician told us that if he doesn’t find anything else than the seized brake, we still might be able to leave the same day. But as they were scanning the car for more issues, they found a cracked ball joint. Something, we were told, we wouldn’t want to risk driving further one. There was talk about things blowing up and such. Basically, we were a no go.
After realizing that we would have to leave our car in Ansbach for service, we started looking for a rental car. We found the last rental car in a city with 3 or 4 different rental car companies. When the car company asked us if we wanted comprhensive insurance, we said yes. The last thing we wanted was any more issues along our way.
The day had been exhausting, frustrating, and now we had to pack everything up plus Marley into the SEAT Leon that was half the size of our original vehicle. But we managed it and then we drove on forever. We drove all evening and all night, stopping only at 3am to nap until 7am at some dark park and ride. In the morning we drove some more until we made it to Saze, France around 11am. I applaud Karol for driving for so long, even if we ended up racking up some speeding tickets in France.
We Finally Made It, A Day Later
We were tired and frustrated, but we had made it. We can only think that we had an angel watching over us. We live by the motto that everything happens for a reason. There was a reason our car couldn’t go further, and the small problem with the wheel quite possibly saved our lives. We wouldn’t have ever found out about the ball joint problem and that could have caused an accident. So even though our car broke down, we got stuck in a small city, our car had to be left behind for repairs, and we were a day late for our vacation, we were still so thankful to be safe and be able to prevent an accident. And in the end, we still explored something new and had fun. Just in a different way!