If you have been following my blog entries, you know that I have, on more than one occasion, really stepped on the rake with my trip logistics planning. It’s not always my fault, but I’m in charge of this part of the Fledgling Flâneurs roadshow, so I must accept responsibility when travel and lodging plans go awry. Imagine my amazement when, facing what looked like another one-way ticket up sh*t creek, I came out smelling like a rose. A slightly more expensive rose than I had planned, but one we could live with.

We have always wanted to visit Scotland, and decided that this summer while we are based in Dublin would be the ideal time to go. Steve and I are both fairly averse to formal tours with guides, big busses and Boomers even older than we are, so we decided to tour Scotland in a rental car. We had already planned to start out in Belfast, Northern Ireland, then take a ferry over to Scotland. The ferry terminal on the Scottish side is in a little village two hours south of Glasgow, and they had no rental cars available there. However, the ferry takes cars, so the obvious solution was to rent the car in Ireland or Northern Ireland and bring it with us on the ferry.

Pro Tip: If you want to take a car from Ireland to Scotland or England, check the rental company’s rules before you go.

I quickly found that no rental car agency in the Republic of Ireland, where Dublin is located, would allow its cars to be taken off the island of Ireland. You could go from the Republic to Northern Ireland, which is a separate country and part of the United Kingdom (but not the EU, thanks to Brexit), but that was it. So, feeling ever so clever, I booked a small SUV in Belfast from Sixt Rental Cars, thinking that it would be no big deal to take it to Scotland, as we would not be leaving the United Kingdom or re-entering the EU. Huge rookie mistake.

We got to the Sixt counter in Belfast about a hour and a half before we were supposed to depart for Scotland (and about 30 minutes before we were supposed to check in at the ferry terminal), and learned that they would not, in fact, let their cars cross the Irish Sea. I swear this information was nowhere to be found on their website, although I have to admit, I didn’t exactly do a hard-target search because I figured this would be like driving a car from Oklahoma to Texas. Um, no.

I had already booked, and in many cases pre-paid the fees, to take us and a car on the ferry (both ways) and for hotel rooms and tourist attractions in Scotland, starting that very day, and the clock was ticking. Steve and the boys at the Sixt counter had bonded over a robust discussion of Premier League football (Go, Spurs!), so I think the fellas really liked him and felt sorry for us. One of them offered to escort us over to one of their competitors, Europcar, which he thought would allow their cars to go to Scotland, and put in a good word for us.

The Europcar guy was very nice and offered to check, though he warned us that, while he might have a car that could go to Scotland, he couldn’t guarantee that it would have an automatic transmission, and quoted a price that was about three times more than what we had planned to spend. The transmission was not a deal-killer, but it’s hard enough for the driver to sit on the right side of the car and drive on the left side of the road, without having to shift gears with the left hand. It’s doable, but kinda dodgy and dangerous. So, it looked like the situation was potentially salvageable, provided we were willing to throw a lot of money at it and navigate winding, one-track roads in a foreign country while driving a stick. In other words, it was shaping up to be, if not a total loss, then a costly and multi-faceted fail on my part.

But then, incredibly, it wasn’t. After a few minutes of searching, the Europcar guy not only found us a car that was insured for travel to Scotland, but it was a sleek, white Mercedes sedan with automatic transmission and he let us rent it for the price of a small, non-luxury vehicle. Now that is some Jared Kushner-level failing up!