Thursday, January 20, 2005

Brave Little Yaris

It is usually a bit of an adventure renting a car overseas. The models have different names, or they may have the same name yet be a completely different car. Or, for some real fun: a right-hand drive with a manual transmission. With globalization, there is more uniformity now, but still there can be surprises. In the U.S., Toyota’s smallest car is the Echo. Overseas (in Iceland at any rate) it is the Yaris. Very much like the Echo, yet somehow different: maybe it's the grill-work, the proportions, certainly the moniker. Now the roads in Iceland are of three kinds, Paved (very nice), gravel (black lava gravel, usually ok) and other. I picked up my perky little white Yaris and headed south on 42, to take some pictures in the Reykjanesfólkvangur (a volcanic park of severe beauty.) As the ruggedness of the scenery increased, so did the weather until a gale force wind and torrents of driving rain escalated into what is called in Iceland skemmtilegur. Still, my trusty Yaris held fast. The rain finally did ease up a bit, so I turned west on 427 to see a geothermal area and swing back via the Blue Lagoon. Leaving the hot springs (boiling hot!) the gravel road now snaked through miles of an ancient lava flow.

I took some more pictures here, and then noticed that the road ahead had become a small river! Now, I had seen a few cars come from that way, but none were quite as small as my rental. I carefully proceeded with a vision of my being swept away playing in an endless loop in my fevered imagination. Finally I was through! Then the road turned from OK into other. After a few miles, I found myself driving through a working quarry, complete with heavy equipment. The road was marked by flags every 50 feet or so, but you could also judge where it was by the fact that the actual excavation site looked smoother than the road proper (just drive on the rough spots, right?) And then a GREAT BIG STEEP HILL - WITH A BLIND INTERSECTION AT THE TOP - all this my brave little Yaris handled in stride. So, I would definitely recommend this car to anyone with a sense of adventure and little luggage - my camera bags and tripod took up all the rear seat very nicely.

No AC though, I guess that it's not really needed in ICEland.

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, professor, for taking me on a great journey - although it reminded me a bit of North Dakota - without quite as much beauty, of course.

My favorite overseas rental (well, not really available for rent, although you can drive one due to its cult status) is the Trabant:

I had the wonderful opportunity to drive one through the German streets of Gera...'nuff said.


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