We were up with the larks this morning – no mean feat as our builder popped by late last night to discuss some new ideas (wine & beer were involved) – and packing the car as we’ve never packed before. We’re not instinctively organised travellers. We can arrive on a beach with not a flip flop in sight. Or, as we did in the Sierra Nevada, get high up to snowy peaks. In flip flops. But now that our lifestyle lets us travel a lot, we’ve become much more organised. Into the boot went the Winter Box (aka known as the box of IKEA blankets), the Boot Box, the Safety Box and for stopovers, a Wine Box.
We left home in Zrenj at 9.45am – waving goodbye to what we’ve come to love but knowing when we return in January, Misko and Sergio will have woven a bit more of their magic – and by 10.00am we were across the border in Slovenia. By 10.30, we were across the next border, and into Italy. In the old days, it could have taken 45 minutes to get to Sainsbury’s in Cheadle if the traffic was against us.
Talking of traffic. Let me talk Italy. Possibly, if we drove in down town Buenos Aires or Delhi, I might find the traffic more alarming, but seriously – Italian drivers are just crazy. In the nicest possible way. By that I mean, their madness behind the wheel always seems to be measured. I don’t think they mean to make you think they are intent on killing you. They just need to get to where they are going to. Fast. And that is everyone, not just your stereotypical boy racers. We’ve even been harangued by a nun! It would have nice to have ambled along the smaller roads, taking in the scenery, but unfortunately we fell into the category today of getting to our destination quickly. But, we fell far short of the locals. We still have quite a healthy respect of speed limits, courtesy to other drivers and not weaving in & out of lanes at breakneck speeds and so we had a few heart-stopping moments.
What we have remembered today.
That driving in Italy is a constant heart-in-your-mouth experience, with other cars zooming up behind you on the motorway and not giving an inch until you pull over, even when you increase your speed to probably way beyond the speed limit. And then to the unfathomable road system around Milan. The A4 – the main Trieste to Turin motorway – just disappears & even with googlemaps, we ended up on the same toll road twice. How, we have no idea as we never got a ticket to get onto it, but ended up paying twice to get off it. And it was the wrong road. We finally found the right road, but entered the tolls on the pre-paid lorry lane. I know!! Had to *reverse* out of it, and cross five lanes of cars & lorries speeding towards the toll booths. And us. Not stressful in any way and no harsh words were exchanged.
At. Any. Point.
I did not even point out that I had identified the right lane and suggested we go to that one. It was not mentioned. At. All…
Anyway, we have safely left Italy and are now in Chamonix via the Mont Blanc Tunnel, considerably lighter in Euros, thanks to those crazy Italian roads. But with some lovely memories, especially of approaching the snow capped Alps…
Not the best pictures as it was starting to get dark, but driving through the Mont Blanc listening to “Trans Europe Express” by Kraftwerk was a bit special. And now lovely to be safe in a gorgeous hotel in Chamonix, which we think has a view of Mount Blanc, but we’ll need to wait until morning light to find out. Even if it doesn’t, iit has lovely Scandi wood walls in the room – and, hallelujah, a bath! – so that’s good enough for Day 1 of the Road Trip.