fschumpert and IAHFLYR brought the subject up regarding my unwillingness to rent a car in Italy . Actually, I am not very willing to rent a car anywhere I am not familiar with. I only got my license when I moved to Maine and after 6 years of non-driving and walking everywhere, until I realized if I ever got to see the ocean again I'd have to learn to drive. The experience was very unpleasant as I had to take a course with 16 yr olds. I scored 94 on the test, but couldn't drive worth a damn'd. But I didn't have a car -- or anyone's I could borrow -- so the driving instructor accompanied me to my test. I think that did it, combined with the fact that he had taught me how to parallel park par excellence. I couldn't pass lanes well, I often turned into the wrong street, but I sure could parallel park. Now I do all the other things well, in fact, I think better than most young drivers because I am very aware of driving, plus I never have anyone in the car with me except once a year when I take my cat to the vet. (Oh happy times.) I think I'm a really good driver nowadays, and am delighted Maine has raised the speed limit, since I like going fast in my small Ford Focus.
But driving at home or near home is different than driving elsewhere. When I was traveling more in the US to conferences and for research, I often rented cars in Milwaukee in particular and Kalamazoo once in a while. Milwaukee drove me insane trying to get from the airport to anywhere because of the two-sided off-ramps; Kalamazoo resulted in my first (non me-caused) accident. Just after I rented the car and was heading to the Fairfield Inn, I parked at a convenience store to get my 'dinner'. I did as appropriate when backing out, looking both ways, using all mirrors, etc., and a car parked opposite side of the parking lot slammed into me. I wasn't hurt, but the guy ran out of the car while his friend asked "is she okay?" to see what damage had been done. He hadn't looked. He gave me all information in terms of insurance, license plates, I took photos, etc. He didn't ask for any of mine because he was clearly at fault.
That may be one reason I don't like renting cars. Michigan is no-fault. Within a month despite showing the minor damage he caused to the rear bumper to the people at Kalamazoo airport (for which they charged me $200 for a scuff -- GEICO reduced it to below my deductible and I only had to pay $100). But the whole thing p^ssed me off. Their insurance called me and asked who my insurance company was (despite them having no information about me). Once I passed on that information, it became a two-fault. I will absolutely never rent a car in Michigan again, because despite my having all the info and the guy who hit me having none, the way the insurance companies worked, I had to pay probably as much as he did.
So in short, I am not a fan of renting cars. In the long run, taxis are usually cheaper in the US and hire cars are cheaper abroad.; ;
Thanks for sharing your story, profchiara! I'm glad to hear that you were not hear in your parking lot incident! I agree with you that taxis can be much more convenient. Especially if you're in a larger city!