sábado, 16 de junio de 2012

Renting a car in Catalonia

Enjoy freedom? Need some self transport around the country? A common option is car renting. We Catalans have some particularities that maybe you should know before you rent a car.

Most cars you'll find at a reasonable price fall into the compact or subcompact category. Although we all like full size sedans, smaller cars rule. Parking lots are scarce, parking spots are small, streets are narrow and corners are tight. If it's big enough to fit everybody in, look no further.

Another particularity is manual shifting. Automated cars are rare, and depending on the price target, even impossible to find. Get used to clutch shifting to prevent embarrassing stalling. It has happened to everybody, but it's only fun when it happens to someone else.

Rental cars are underpowered to prevent you from racing style driving. When I say underpowered, I mean anaemic. Prepare to drive a 1.4 litre engine with less than 100 hp. It barely moves. However, there is something  good about it: fuel economy.
Gas is sold in litres, not gallons, in Catalonia and most of Europe. A litre of regular gas is about 1.50€, that means a gallon is 5.69€, or more than 7 USD at current exchange rate. Yup, more than seven bucks a gallon. Consider gas costs before you plan your routes.

Speed limits, distances and so on are in kilometres, not miles. But so are speedometers, so just remember that when you see Barcelona 121 you are much closer than what you think.

Finally, if you get caught speeding, you don't have many chances to escape from the bill. You may get arrested by our local police (Mossos d'Esquadra) or the bill will be sent to the rental company, that will charge it to you.