Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ars Longa, Vita Modus

One of the real high points of the tour was the Modus and the arrangement with Renault.  I don't know why it is not more widely advertised but I found out about the scheme when looking to rent a car for 3 weeks via the usual rental firms and was ploughing through endless rules and regulations about where I couldn't drive (anywhere outside western Europe) which was a bit annoying considering where we wanted to go but on the broker website www.Autoeurope.com, I entered the dates I wanted and up came a suggestion: "have you thought about leasing?"

Well, no I hadn't actually so I read on a little more.  The contract was set up as a sort of guaranteed sale/buy back of a brand new vehicle.  I didn't really get the details so called the Renault Canada number and talked through it and glory be, it is totally kosher and actually works!  All you have to be is non-EU resident to qualify.  Having a UK passport I had to prove residence outside the EU and go through the shopping list of documents they needed as the deal really was a sale and buy back.  The nice upside was that there was no restriction on where I could drive and the fully comprehensive insurance was included in the price.  AND it was less to rent this way than say through Avis or Hertz.

Its all about the VAT of course which is why if you are UK resident, the whole thing falls down. I don't know if it works for non-UK but EU residents.  We had red number plates that identified us (according to the Renault lady) as tourists and targets!  Thanks.  But it did let us spot other "tax dodgers" as Ali called them.

The pick up points for Renault were all round France and at various other places including London but in these cases with a delivery charge.  As we were heading to Calais anyway and had a hire car in England already, I simply arranged to drop the UK car off in Dover, walked into the ferry terminal and bought a ferry ticket, walked off the ferry in Calais and into the area where the Renault pick up point was.

The new Modus
 It was then I realised that ALL the French manufacturers do this -- i.e. Peugeot and Citroen -- because the Renault lady was also the Peugeot and Citroen lady too.  And Jan later told me that the Germans do it as well.  But out of a cast of thousands I had chosen the Modus as our tour vehicle.  It wasn't the smallest in the fleet, nor the swankiest, but looked a good, solid vehicle that would go from A to B and then C and ... Z.  It would also hold all our stuff and at a pinch we could sleep in it (didn't have to put that one to the test).

It passed with flying colours!

May of the drives were long.  Le Touquet to La Rochelle for example was 750 kms and the Milan to Stuttgart day was 8-9 hours long.  Everything worked beautifully.  Part of this was due to the fact we collected it with only 5 kms on the clock -- the Renault lady recommended we should use a qualified Renault dealer to do its first service at 25,000 kms!  During these journeys Ali and I worked out a sort of lineage for Renault vehicles starting at the bottom: Clio son of Modus

Next was the siblings: Megane brother of Modus and Espace big brother of Modus.

And finally the parents:  Scenic father of Modus.

But of course, there was the black sheep of the family: Kangoo.

The nice thing was that each day I started the car, the comforting message popped up saying that oil, water and all the rest of it was "bon".

Modus out on the town one night in Split
One irritant was that Ali being under 25 wasn't allowed to drive but he navigated well.

A big plus of course was the never ending road photos that Ali took at various places.  Most from the car came with a bit of Modus in them whether screen reflection, door frame or something else like a road sign, road barrier, tree or bush blocking the way to whatever the photo's object was.

One of the many tunnels in Autoroute du Sud in France

Portofino in the background ... honest!

On the road in Croatia towards Rajetka and Split

Heading down to Dubrovnic

15 minutes in Bosnia

The fjord in Montenegro towards Kotor
Lost in Vienna

Raining at last in Austria

Great photo.  This is a chemical plant in Austria normally invisible but because of the black rain clouds the white smoke stands out.  Ali took several of this with the best (!) obscured by a tiny road sign that came out of nowhere at the last moment
We tried to keep up with frontiers and customs posts too.  Some were very substantial and we could easily imagine what life could have been like pre-EU when you had to stop everywhere.

Italy/Slovenia border post

Into Croatia for the first time 

The countries we visited were (in order) France, Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia (we think), Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France.

Modus in Kotor

Driving in Serbia (maybe) or Bosnia

Bosnian border with someone

Bosnian road engineer on mobile phone ...  it happens there too!
Modus in trouble! Parking ticket in Zadar

Austria for the first time ... one day we criss crossed into Austria,  Switzerland and Germany on many occasions

Trust the Swiss to go over the top with their border post

But we did come up with THE name for Modus:  OPTIMUM MODUS TRANSPORTAE.  Thanks Modus, you were great!

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