When I traveled with Dan, my chief focus was his comfort. Car rentals, hotel choices, itineraries: all decisions reflected our very different tourism styles. Inefficiencies, inconveniences and the unexpected don’t rattle me but they could easily discommode him.
Rent the Car for Dan
When I sat down to rent the car, I tried the travel app Kayak. It was interesting and brought up lots of choices, and appeared to offer some savings. I went with Green Motion. That’s not going to happen again.
I decided on automatic rather than standard. Sometimes one ends up in tight corners and on hills, and at any rate, better safe than sorry. I requested a compact because it’s just me, not much luggage and parking is frequently a hassle.
Penny Wise, Pound Foolish
The rental office was on the second floor, so dragging bags in was nearly impossible. I was advised to leave them by the door downstairs, which I did with some trepidation.
At the desk, a customer who looked to be Middle Eastern extraction was in mid-harangue about the problems he was having with his reservation. Initially I thought the gentleman was simply over-demanding. Now I am not so sure.
Finally it was my turn. I was tired after the trip from Paris and I still needed to drive the ninety minutes or so to Balbieriškis. And it was nearly dusk. I presented my reservation, driver’s license and passport. Where was my International Driver’s License?
My what? I once got an International Driver’s License, oh maybe around 2001. Never used it. Never renewed it. Never needed it in Lithuania, not in 2012 nor in 2015. Or anywhere else.
Apparently Discovercars dba Green Motion is a third-party business and therefore has its own set of rules. Without the license I was obligated to buy extra insurance. Doing so obliterated any savings Green Motion initially presented. My attitude became nearly as hostile as that of the Middle Eastern gentleman who had preceded me in line. I paid the charge, collected the paperwork and took the key.
Shiny Isn’t Everything
My vehicle was a diesel VW Golf. Perfectly nice little car although I never came close to mastering the electronics on the dashboard. Didn’t matter. I could manage the headlights and windshield wipers, the climate controls were fine as set, and I ignored the radio.
But there was a pesky warning light and I didn’t know what it was saying. Then I noticed when I turned the car on, it said something about putting in oil, but not more than a liter. They sent me out with a car that was low on oil? I was expected to perform this maintenance myself? And pay for it?
I returned the car a day early and simply didn’t fuss about it. It never became my problem. When Green Motion asked for a review they got one. And they got a lousy grade.
A Reasonable Choice
I chose the pas Radvila Hotel and Convention Center in Gudenai on the outskirts of Kaisiadorys because it seemed acceptable and was handy to the village of Miežonys where I needed to explore the cemetery. I also expected to use the museum library in Kaisiadorys.
Rain bucketed down by the time I arrived at the Miežonys cemetery, a tiny piece of tranquility at the end of a long road pretty much in the middle of nowhere. The village itself seems to have disappeared with time. Still, the gravesites were well kept, a few looked newish, and nearly half of them bore the name “Tamkus” in one form or another. Took lots of pictures and headed to the hotel.
Worst Hotel Imaginable
I found the hotel easily enough, but it looked closed. No lights. Few cars. And where the heck was the entrance and check-in area? I could see prominent signage and a steep flight of steps to a door, but inside stairs wound upward past what appeared to be a bowling alley toward empty hallways. I circled the building and what looked like a possible entrance on the other side was locked up tight. I called the telephone number for the “administrator” posted on the doors and got no answer.
I sat in the car and stewed. I can’t even imagine the state Dan would have been in.
Signs of Life
A red car covered with hotel advertising drove into the lot and around the back. I followed on foot. The pleasant young woman in it couldn’t seen to help me and then a somewhat older woman appeared out of nowhere. The “administrator”? I was the “booking.” She was expecting me. She led me into the building, unlocking doors, turning on lights.
We emerged at the stairway I had scaled early. “Is there a lift?” I inquired. “I have luggage.” I should have mentioned that I am a helpless old crone who needs assistance.
“No.” Just no.
She stopped at a door and unlocked it. My room. She turned to leave. Wait. What was the wi-fi password? She showed it to me on an information sheet and said to write “Radvila” with a lower-case “r.” Which, by the way, is incorrect. One needs to write “Radvila” with an upper-case “R.” Then she was gone.
Luggage and Leaving
I followed the green exit signs which, happily, brought me back to the stairs. I schlepped my suitcases one at a time up to my room.
This just wouldn’t do. I contacted the Bookinn B&B in Vilnius, my next stop, and arranged to add a day to the reservation. I called the “administrator” and notified her that I would be leaving in the morning, that I would not require the second night. “Okay,” she said. She did not seem concerned.
I worked on the computer for a while and finished off the leftovers Angelė had backed for me in Balbieriskis and the apples and pears from Rymantas’ garden we hadn’t eaten at lunch and said a prayer of gratitude to them. Then I went to bed and read until it was late enough to go to sleep.
The morning dawned sunny and the deck outside almost looked inviting, Still I showered, packed and left. I will never be back there. I am sure that there are alternatives. Anything, anything at all, would have been better.