08 October 2010

Let the Driving Begin!

Our car has arrived and is ready to hit the Luxembourgish road. All the gory details and lessons learned will be in an upcoming post entitled "How to Ship and Drive Your US Car in Europe," but here's a general rundown of how our last two days went.

We left Luxembourg City for Amsterdam, where our car had arrived by boat on Monday. We had yet to hear when, where or how to pick it up, but decided to head on over in the meantime. We booked Wednesday night at a Best Western and hoped to be back in Luxembourg by Friday. We were told to call Hans, our car shipping contact, on Thursday at 11am - which also happened to be check out time.

So, there we sat, in the hotel lobby ready to call Hans. Our main concerns, besides the small matter of when and where, were:

1) Could we buy temporary car insurance at the port. We knew we would not be able to drive it away without it, but the only company we could find that provided what we needed was in (what are the chances?!?) Luxembourg City. The problem was, we needed to be able to get it from the Amsterdam port to Luxembourg City.
2) Would we have any problems at Customs. Hans had said we needed "proof of temporary stay" and that we could only keep the car in Europe for six months. We didn't think either of those things were true. Either way, we didn't want to say the wrong thing and be turned away. Customs can be scary.

After a quick call with Hans we learned that we could go pick it up immediately, it wasn't too far away, we could purchase temporary insurance right there at the port and Customs was in the very same building. Off we went!

We arrived at the office and were met by a very friendly, very tall, young man who smiled and handed us a simple form to fill out. He then gave us our insurance card and said he would drive us over to pick up the car after he had a quick sandwich. We asked him about Customs and he said, "I am Customs" and smiled again.

After his lunch, he drove us over to another office that was to verify our papers. He walked us in and, to our surprise and amusement, he walked right around to stand behind the reception desk and process our paperwork himself. Then, with a wave, a "Come on" and another smile, he drove us to our car.

There it sat, in a see of American classic cars. We wish we had taken a picture. Our Subaru Outback looked so funny next to the Corvettes and Mustangs from the 1970s and some amazing trucks from the 50s. Apparently, Europeans like going over and buying car toys and then shipping them back.

And that was it! When we were saying goodbye, we asked our Port Angel what his name was and he replied, "Boss." By the way he said it, we could tell that it wasn't a nickname. Thank you, Boss.

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