“Don’t get into cars with strangers.” We all grew up hearing this sage advice from our parents, and then we repeated this to our children and on and on these pearls of wisdom go.

So why do we get into cars with strangers when we travel, without a backward glance, except maybe once or twice, at what we had learned, and known as considered advice to protect us from stranger-danger and the like.

Don’t get into cars with strangers.

One of our scenarios

We met a man in Strasbourg, France. He was actually the owner of our amazing surrealistic art gallery that we stayed in. We met him and talked in broken English for a grand total of maybe 30 minutes on the day we arrived. You know the routine, here is the toilet, it is a little finicky, so you need to flush it delicately. Here is the meter box, because the power is a little temperamental. We didn’t get into personalities or into deep and meaningfuls.

On our 4th day, he re-appeared to see how we were going, and we got to talk to him about the gallery and what type of exhibitions he had on, and how we had fixed the dripping tap for him. Again we didn’t get to know too much about him but he seemed nice enough – one might say an eccentric type, but that works for us.

As he was leaving he asked would we like him to take us for a drive the next day along the Alsace Wine Trail. Of course, we jumped at it. Local. Knows this area. Knows the customs and traditions. That is what we do and what we like.

Don’t get into cars with strangers.

Exploring the Alscace Wine Region with a stranger

So we did. We drove to the stunning town of Obernai, and there we had a delicious lunch together. Then we started to talk with him. He was very interesting and told us lots about different things about the people and the towns. He was also quite odd, in that hard to explain way.

He then asked if we would like to go mushroom picking in the forests. We jumped at the opportunity because we like experiences. Just because I had a dress and boots, and the full on French makeup, the just in case Parisian look, was not a bother. Walk into a forest, grab some mushrooms and we had an experience happening.

Don’t get into cars with strangers.

Hansel and Gretel and a witch

We drove and drove, stopping at times to see stunning villages. Then we drove for a very long time in complete silence. That is when I started remembering – Don’t get into cars with strangers. We didn’t know this man. He wasn’t talking, and I was starting to freak. I kept thinking of different people who had disappeared without a trace. That is what I do. I am overly dramatic. I said one word in this silent car, to Gordon, who was in the front seat. “Ivan”.

I hate to be horrible to our Strasbourg man, but Ivan Milat was a horrid mass murdered in Australia. He lured people to their gruesome deaths by taking them into the forests, or in Australia’s case, into the rainforests.

We got there at about 4.30pm. We got out to look for our mushrooms. I did what any modern woman would do, and I quickly posted on Instagram, so that people might know my whereabouts, should anything untoward happen.

We walked, and we walked, and trust me I kept him in front of me at all times. My boots were not the most forest friendly outfit, but at least I would look good when they discovered my body.

Don’t get into cars with strangers.

Don’t get into cars with strangers

After about 2 hours, I kid you not; I had had enough. I said something along the lines of “where are the ……mushrooms, merci”. And I got in return, “just a little further”. It was like Hansel and Gretel being led to the that old witches house. An interminable time later I just stopped and said NO. He kept saying, just a little further, only about another hour. Say what! I turned, dramatically, to start the long ascent down, and Gordon came next to me, to tell me to stop freaking out. I said to him again, “Ivan”. He knew what I meant.

Don’t get into cars with strangers.

Next thing our friend, yelled loudly, I kid you not, ‘TURN AROUND’. We did, me expecting to be blown into the after life. He did shoot us. With his camera.

We all then trundled back down the mountain. One of us a neurotic mess. None of us with any mushrooms.

Getting into cars with strangers when you travel

And it got me thinking about what had been drilled into me as a kid. Don’t get into cars with strangers. Why do we disregard all of this when we travel. All I can figure out is that we do tend to throw caution to the wind and trust everybody and everything. We feel invincible and believe that everyone is just an ambassador extraordinaire when we travel.

So we started the long drive home. He received a number of disturbing calls. Our French is crap so we couldn’t figure out the conversation, but it was heated. Was it because he didn’t deliver the goods, us, to the witch? Don’t know. Was it an experience that we can put as a highly interesting one? Yes, most definitely, if it only proves that I have at times, an overactive imagination.

Look, he was strange. The situation was strange. The whole walking through the Vosges Forest in my “I look chic enough to be in Paris” attire, was funny. Check out my Instagram because I know someone would have seen it and been able to find my body. Did Gordon think I over-reacted? Hell yeh. But did he feel the situation was quite bizarre, yes he did actually.

There are other ways to travel around Strasbourg and this delightful region.

Would we get into a car with strangers again after this? Well yes, we would and we have. I don’t know; that damn travel bug just liberates you from ordinary commonsense, but not always from an overactive imagination.

Do you get into cars with strangers when you travel?

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