Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Scout

So, after a whole year of relying solely on our bikes and our own power to get around (as well as public transportation here and there), we finally gave in and bought a car! Something about the thought of mountain sports beckoning us to haul around bikes, backcountry skis, and backpacking gear made us decide it was time. Don't get us wrong ... public transportation in Switzerland is wonderful and we still plan to take great advantage of it, but for our lifestyle in the Alps, one car seemed to be a really good fit.

The car-shopping experience was interesting here... We didn't realize how much we were used to the "instant gratification" system in the U.S., where you are inevitably asked by the car salesman: "What can I do to help you drive away in a new car today??" Here you must have muuuuuuuch more patience and an understanding of no pressure sales techniques! The cars on the lot are not actually available. It takes at least 2-3 weeks, often as much as 3 months, to actually get your car delivered to the dealer ... and then you have to wait 7 more days from delivery until you can pick it up from the dealer. This system definitely diminishes the opportunity for "impulse" purchases!

Another interesting thing was with the test drive - we are used to having the salesman ride in the car with us, or at least to record our personal information and make a copy of our driver's license before we drive off in their car... Well not here. The dealer gave us the key with no questions asked and no licenses copied. He actually asked if we had a driver's license and when Jeff said 'yes' and started to hand it over, he said "no, no, just show me when you get back." The only trace we left at the dealership was the set of commuter bikes we rode to get there! Now that's some kind of trust.

Anyway, we finally decided on an all-wheel drive Skoda Scout - a blend of a wagon (popular in the Alps for carting around bikes and skis) and an SUV (which despite the ubiquitous Porsche Cayenne in Z├╝rich is a big symbol in Switzerland of environmental-unfriendliness). Hopefully we found a perfect blend that will safely get us to the best backcountry skiing spots when the powder is dumping, but with a smaller environmental footprint!

Here's Jeff and the new car!:

We immediately put our new car to use by filling it with some new purchases... This recliner would have been quite a challenge to bring home on a bike...

Then it was time to take Scout out on its first excursion to the mountains...

Proud new owner...

A great way to get to those remote hiking trails!

Click here to see more pics.