So, what’s been confusing us lately? Cars. That’s what. In England, when you want to buy a car, you have a number of options. Go to a garage. Look on E-Bay. Buy one from a friend. Choose one from Auto Trader. As literally everyone in Istria has a nice car – ranging from the super-duper to the cutesy, vintage Renault 4s – we thought it couldn’t be that difficult to buy a car. In fact, we were so confident, we decided we’d buy two – one as a runaround and the other a more powerful, solid, reliable 4x4 type which would take us on long journeys. But we just couldn’t crack the code for buying a car. We’d see garages with cars outside, but it wasn’t clear if these were for sale or in for a service. We searched online – nothing in the vicinity and we didn’t fancy our chances heading to Zagreb to buy from a stranger. We headed to the big city – Pula – and hurrah, we finally found garages. Lots of them. But we still felt out of our depth as a) we don’t know a huge amount about cars, apart from what we like and b) it’s difficult enough to negotiate a car deal in English, let alone Croatian/Italian.
But then we had a breakthrough – and this is where the old adage, “It’s now what you know…” is so true. We visited one of the local restaurants in the village – Agroturizam Nežić – and met the wonderful owners, Paolo & Nadja. They assured us they would help sort out our car situation – and true to their word, their friend Dennis, who owns a garage not too far away, sourced for us a runaround Fiat Punto and by far the best car we’ve ever owned, a Honda CRV. Nothing has been too much trouble for Dennis and his wife, Rosanna – and we will be eternally grateful as they helped us to navigate the tangled web of car buying.
Our purchases were relatively straightforward as both cars had all documentation completely up to date, with full service history. Getting the insurance and road tax and breakdown cover was also quite straightforward – as Rosanna essentially did it all for us. Insurance would have been more tricky if we’d done it ourselves – although we have many years of no claims in England, that counts for nothing here, so we were starting from scratch. However, sound advice from Rosanna means we have good insurance – but definitely not something we’d have worked out ourselves. The paperwork is endless – again, we would have been completely lost as you have to register with a number of authorities, including the police. Not something we would ever have known – but definitely something which now makes sense to us.
We did, in the early days of our car looking, spot a reconditioned Renault 4 which was for sale. These retro cars are still driving the roads of Istria – but as funky as it would have been, we think we did the right thing in not buying from a stranger in a supermarket car park, and instead going with Dennis and Rosanna. And, it’s not every day you pick up your new car and the garage owner has picked wild asparagus for you 🙂