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Travelling Spain with Two Dogs & a Parrot

With a good internet connection, I can work remotely from anywhere, so my husband Rob & I took advantage of this & are travelling Spain with our pets & everything we own packed into an estate car with roof-box.

Searching for a Vehicle
19 July 2019

We settled into our new home, despite battling the consequences of combining old women & technology, & began to look at car options. We had a permanent address now so we could!

Like any major town, I assumed, quite rightly, that all the car dealerships in Malaga would be close together in the same vicinity & we had a couple of mornings browsing used vehicles.

We had certain criteria:

  • Vehicle size - we needed to fit everything we currently owned into it
  • Engine size - Rob likes his cars to have the oomph to get out of danger & to not struggle when fully laden
  • Age - we wanted a four-year old car to maximise the two-year gaps between necessary ITVs
  • Budget - we would not be borrowing, so using some of our savings & needed to retain a cushion for emergencies

We looked at the longest estates that we could find within the above criteria, but couldn't find anything approriate, so ended-up looking at spending more on a new, or very nearly new car. We quickly discovered thatyou cannot often get a decent spec car for the base-price advertised & before you know it, the cost could soon increase by nearly 50%.  As large engined estate cars were expensive, we then considered a hatchback with a trailer.  Not Rob's preferred choice, but I began to think about what would survive being bounced around & whether the more delicate items would fit in the hatch or roofbox.  It was doable, but I had no luck persuading Rob frown

So then we looked at the basic box-van-MPVs, you know the kind, vans with windows that seem to be popular.  We compared a Merc & Fiat side-by-side in a showroom to begin with. They were roomy, but boxy & didn't really have the feel of a 'car'. We left agreeing to a test-drive in a Fiat the following week.  Being practical, I liked them - plenty of headroom as Rob & I are both tall, with lots of space for all our stuff & the pets - what more did we want in a vehicle? But I know Rob still didn't really see himself driving one of these & he was hankering for a nice plush car.  He was already feeling the loss of his beloved Honda exec tourer.

The law of attraction...

We were in the midst of sorting out the internet at home, so after vising the Coin Movistar shop, we sat with a beer in the central square - & noticed so many of these windowed vans, & I mean a lot. I know about the law of attraction, that you start noticing whatever's on your mind & having looked-at a large Peugeot, we then saw them everywhere, in front of us on the road & behind.  But even this couldn't match the sheer number of the boxy MPVs - there were seven parked-up in view of our bar & every second vehicle that drove past was a Fiat Doblo, a Peugeot Partner, VW Caddy, Ford Connect, Renault Kangoo, Merc Citan, Citroen Berlingo or similar laugh 

What was the universe telling us?

We began counting cars driving past as we sat & also when we were driving later - sad I know, but it became a game. Whichever manufacturer was the first to knock out the panels in a van & stick windows in then add back seats was onto a winner.  Especially in rural communities with a need to cart farming implements & animal feed about - they're sturdy workhorses & just right for a bale or two of straw wink

Meanwhile, we were seriously considering keeping & importing Blue, our Honda & asked in a local English owned bar if they knew of a reliable English garage to give us a repair quote.

I know, I'm embarrased as that's really such an ex-pat thing to-do!

However, we know from experience how difficult it is to communicate when you don't speak the language. We weren't sure what the wobbling at 58 miles ph was, or the intermittent strange grating sound in the wheels, never-mind have to explain via Google translate...

Therefore, we told Pat our story & dilema & he had a look under the bonnet, then at the headlights & reversing lights which would need replacing for Blue to even be considered fit for importing. He went away with a copy of the log book to source costs of parts & had a word with his Gestor about an estimate for importation.

Then Rob drove the Doblo & actually liked it.

The more up-to-date 1.6 diesel engine, was (hopefully) powerful enough to replace the 2litre Honda (it felt like it) & there was lots of height & space inside. We could also communicate well with Manuel at Europa Autos, a Spaniard with an Australian accent. But we put off making a decision until we'd heard from Pat as neither of us wanted to commit to getting-rid of Blue

It would cost more than double what we paid for Blue to import the Honda into Spain. Not a surprise, but also not really a viable option. Blue had been reliable, but we couldn't guarantee this with a 15 year old car with approaching 200k miles on the clock although I know this isn't an issue for a diesel engine. If we'd stayed in the UK, we'd never have considered getting rid & hopefully driven Blue for many more years, but it was always a potential part of our plan to buy a left-hand-drive.

So we were a little bit sentimental as we part-exchanged Blue for Dobbie & if the dealer couldn't find someone specifically wanting a roomy car to drive back to the UK, would likely scrap the Honda sad

Daft it may be, but we weren't that excited about collecting the Fiat & immediate missed the chilled aircon we'd enjoyed in the Accord. Dobbie's was, disappointingly, no-where near as efficient (a real surprise for a car in Southern Europe) & we drove home glumly with the windows open wondering whether we'd done the right thing...



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