Storytelling: Our car broke down in Montenegro

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Our car broke down in Montenegro

Last week we went on our long desired holiday. We hadn’t been anywhere (I mean abroad) for more than two years, so we were really excited. The day had come and we left. First, we went to Bratislava because we had some business there but then, after one day, we finally drove to Montenegro. Splitting the trip into two days seemed like a good idea because my boyfriend had been driving the whole day and we started our trip at around 6pm. 

We made the wrong choice . Going through Serbia was soooo much longer than Croatia. If you wanna know why – the borders. Serbia is not in the European Union, therefore, they have to check you and your car. We had thought… great, we’ll get to Belgrade at midnight and have a little sleep and in the morning go to Montenegro. We couldn’t be more wrong. We arrived there at around 3:30am. Whatever, this happens. 

Our friends told us stories from their visit and we were careful about our car. They said that they left their car in the street and someone did something to it so that the car wouldn’t start and then out of nowhere came a guy who was willing to help them on the spot but for money. Our accommodation had garage parking, so we were safe. 

Next day we went to a shopping center to get something to eat and drove further. Everything started looking amazing. Anticipation was high, at least mine. I had never visited Montenegro before and it’s a country which I have on my bucket list. My boyfriend had been there a few years back. We crossed the borders, mountains everywhere. It was breathtaking

When we came to the capital Podgorica, we needed to fuel our tank because we had one and a half hours drive ahead of us. We came to the first gas station there called EKO – they were everywhere. It was swamped. Filip needed to go to the toilet so I offered to wait in the line to pay for the gas because it was really long. One man who was standing in front of me told me that all the shops are closed on Sundays so people come to gas stations to buy everything they need. OK, understandable. We waited and paid. We got in the car, Filip put his key into the ignition aaaaaand nothing. Absolutely nothing happened. No sound, no response. Now would be the proper time to use the F word. Maybe something went wrong so he tried again. Nothing. You could see the panic in our eyes. 

My first suggestion was: “Call Vlado, he’ll be able to help”. Vlado is our friend who is a Mercedes enthusiast and knows everything. Filip and Vlado tried a few things but nothing helped. Vlado offered to find more information on the internet and call us back. Meanwhile I approached a young man who was working at the station hoping he would help us. I told him in English: “Hi, we have a problem. Our car doesn’t start. Do you have a phone number for a service?” His reply: “No English.” So, I used gestures and very simple words. “Car – problem – number – service”. He didn’t want to help. He was probably 25 years old and I am sure that everyone knows these four words. I guess he pretended not to know them. 

The problem was, we were blocking other cars because we couldn’t move ours. The gear stick was stuck at Park and we couldn’t unlock it. Then the story of our friends appeared in our minds. What if someone did something to our car and now it doesn’t start? I went to the shop to ask the cashier if he could rewind the tape from the camera which was pointed to our car… to see if someone came close to it or not. He said: “Not possible to go back.” Which is total BS because why then would they have the cameras in the first place? Soooo another employee of the station was not useful… but at least, he could speak English a little. Then I asked him if he could give me a phone number of a service that he knows. “No, I have customers,” he said. Amazing! This is going nowhere. 

Filip called his insurance company to set us up with their partner in Podgorica. The guy sent us a number but no-one answered… It’s Sunday. No-one is working. That wasn’t helpful either. Let’s go on the internet, even though it’s expensive if you don’t have the tourist card, and find a towing service that could take us to the mechanic… or at least in front of the gates. He came within 10 minutes. He was smiling and asking questions about the car. Soon we found out that he can’t really speak English but , you know, Google Translate was our friend. He towed our car and asked Filip to give him the address of the service, which he did. It was an official Mercedes service in Podgorica. 

We didn’t even leave the gas station when the man typed: “I have a friend. He is a mechanic. He works with Mercedes cars. Official service is too expensive. He can do it for a lower price.” Filip said: “Fine, let’s go there.” His first thought was that the car will be disassembled and taken to Albania for parts :D The man also asked: “Do you have accommodation?” We naturally said no because Podgorica was not our final destination. “I have a friend,” he said, “accommodation is 40€. I’ll drive you.” It was dark, we were tired, we had our suspicions but we said OK. 

First we came to the mechanic’s house. There were a lot of cars so that put our mind at ease. We had to take our clothes and laptops from the trunk so we walked in tall grass to get there. As I mentioned, it was dark and there was no street light. I was walking when suddenly, I scratched my right leg. One long scratch, but not too deep and one smaller dot, but quite deep. It started bleeding and didn’t want to stop. It’s still visible and healing. After Filip opened the trunk, the light switched on and I could see old branches of a tree in the grass. 

The next stop was the accommodation. The tow guy drove us to the other side of the city, somewhere in between the construction zone. There was no real road, just gravel. His friend, a woman, was waiting for us in front of an apartment building. She looked nice. We took our bags, paid for the tow service and went up to a flat that she showed us. It was quite big. She gave us silent instructions about the key and we gave her the money, thanked her and said goodbye. 

We decided to go to the service right when they opened which meant 9am. The previous night we found out that the main mechanic, the friend of the tow guy, can’t speak English at all. We were expecting to use Google Translate again, but to our surprise, his son came out and spoke perfect English. He told us that his father already knew what the problem was and it would cost 250€. Filip asked Nikola if they needed to get a new part because that is what our friends told us would be necessary. He smiled and said: “No, we will repair this one.” Nikola also told us to leave our bags in the car so that we can go sightseeing until they repair the car. He said, “It should be finished max at 6pm.” As we were leaving the car, he left it unlocked. Filip naturally asked him to lock it and for me, Nikola said the best joke of the trip: “This is not Europe, nobody steals it.” It was really funny at that moment. 

He called us a taxi and recommended we go to Delta City which is a shopping center. We ate breakfast and went walking around the city. After some time we returned because it was too hot and the shopping center had AC. As we were eating our lunch, Filip’s phone got a message – it was a video of his car successfully starting. That was the happiest moment of the last two days. 

We fetched a taxi, paid for the repairs and said our goodbyes. Nikola even told Filip: “When you leave Montenegro and you want to sell your car, come to me. I want to buy it.” This at least shows that Filip has a really good car. 

What was the problem? The system for unlocking the steering wheel didn’t work. We felt really uneasy about the reliability of the car… but nothing has happened since then, knock on wood. After that we had our holiday and came safely back home. 

Have you ever experienced anything similar? Let me know in the comments or send me a message. 

Otázky na porozumenie:

  1. Did we go to Montenegro straight away?
  2. Which is better – going through Serbia or Croatia?
  3. Were we far from our destination when our car broke down?
  4. Were the people at the gas station helpful?
  5. Did they repair our car the same day it broke down?
  6. What were we doing while our car was being repaired?
  7. What was the problem with the car?

Key: 1) Nope, we first went to Bratislava and then Serbia. 2) Croatia. 3) No, not really, only 1,5 hours away. 4) Nope, noone helped. 5) No, we had to wait until the next day. 6) Sightseeing, shopping, eating. 7) The system for unlocking the steering wheel didn´t work.

Uč sa angličtinu spolu s nami!

Vyber si kurz, ktorý vyhovuje Tvojim potrebám a dovoľ nám pomôcť Ti na Tvojej ceste k vysnívanej angličtine!

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