|Destination||Piacenza, Italy||Name||No hotel, slept in the car park of a service station|
|Dates||3rd October 2008||Number of Nights||One|
|Distance||275 miles||Accommodation details||The Car|
Got up, and had an other full continental breakfast, had a long journey ahead of us right through Switzerland and into Italy.
The journey out of France was really straight forward.
We crossed the border into Switzerland, which is around Basel.
The border crossing was straight forward, you pay to drive on there roads, and they stick a sticker on the windscreen of the car, check your passports, and send you on your way.
Just coming up to the Switzerland Border
That's us across the border and in Switzerland, the weather really changed, it got really cold, and started to rain.
There was no surprises with the scenery in Switzerland, just as we had expected, snow capped mountain tops, rolling green valleys.
Switzerland is a strange country as they speak several languages, the part we drove through, they spoke German and Italian.
The picture on the left, shows how bad the weather was, it did get a bit brighter later on.
In the German part, we made one rest stop, at a motorway service station where, we got a cup of coffee, being British, we had got used to smoking outside, regardless of the weather, but here we could smoke indoors, and right beside where they were serving food.
Irene enjoying a cigarette indoors
So onward with the journey, right check the map where are we heading, follow the road and go through St Gothard's Tunnel, which is 29 Kilometres long (over 18 miles), so its quite long. The other alternative is to go over the mountain pass, see photo to left.
First problem, and it was quite a problem!! To get up to Gothard's tunnel, you drive uphill for a few hours, in really wet weather, and driving really slow, the road was really busy, so the car overheat, help!!!!!!
Right put onto hard shoulder, get orange jacket on, put up warning triangle, and wait for the engine to cool down so we can continue.
After about 20-30 minutes car engine was cool enough to carry on with the journey, right rejoin the stream of traffic, and we are on our way, going into the tunnel the road goes from dual carriageway to single, car is still overheating, but nothing we can do now, just need to get through the tunnel, (said a few prayer at this point), right someone was listing to my prayers, got through the tunnel, daylight, made it, right stop at first service station.
Right first thing first thing first, toilet, then get something to eat, we got Lasagne Bologna and 2 coffees, right now we will fill up the car with petrol, so we can carry on with our journey.
Oh no another problem, bank cards are not working, oh bullocks, and we don't have enough cash on us, shit!!!!
Right into the picturesque village next to service station, they must have a bank machine that works, how wrong can some people be, right back into service station, see what we can do, counted out every cent we had, including the 5 Francs that the guy at the border gave me, oh shit, still 5 Euros short, HELP!!!!!!!
The manageress came down, she let us call our bank in England, who assured us, and her that we had enough funds to cover, after a little while, she let us go, without full payment, we both couldn't thank her enough.
Incidentally when we were in the village looking for ATM, though I would ask for directions, and the person that I saw to ask was another tourist, typical!!!!!!!
Right back on the road again, extremely embarrassed about what happened at the service station, but on our way to Italy.
The rest of Switzerland was just as beautiful, and just the same scenery as before, the difference was they spoke Italian, but we did have an Italian phrase book with us, which was quite helpful.
The border between Switzerland and Italy is around Chiasso, it was a slow drive up to the border, the road was really busy.
Right lets get across the border, and into Italy, nothing else can go wrong, or can it!!!!!!
The border crossing went without a hitch, they didn't even check our passports, we were on our way.
Here we go again, a toil booth, put card into machine, see if it will please work, oh no not again!!!!!!!!
Right try my card, exact same
Right play dumb, they gave us a receipt, to pay at next toil booth, phew!!!!!
Where are we going, quick check of map, we need to be on E35/A2 then A9, wait a minute, they don't tell you the road numbers, right where are we heading, right need to go round Milan. OK on the right road. Went through another toil booth, just same as last one, act thick!!!!!!!
Gave us a receipt, and sent us on with our journey.
The route we took through Milan, in blue pen.
The route we should have taken to avoid Milan in red pen
The last thing you want to do is drive around Milan, on a Friday night at 5pm, the reason we did it!!
The Italian road signs are something to be desired, we had managed to drive, through England, France, and Switzerland without any problems, we got into Italy and the road signs were terrible.
They didn't tell you the road numbers, the turn off signs are right on the junctions, that you need to turn on.
The drive through Milan was a bit of an experience, first its rush hour, so there was cars everywhere, and I mean everywhere.
They stop their cars right in front of you so they can talk to their friends.
It is supposed to be 3 lanes of traffic, but at times you are lucky if its 1 lane, the inside lane had lots of parked cars in it, so that was out, the middle lane you took your life in your own hands, and I mean that!!!
So that leaves the outside lane, only if you want to turn left.
So as the saying goes when in Rome do the same as the Romans, well we were close, same country!!
Lets try and find the main road again, just keep driving and checking signs, there must be a road that takes you back out, hopefully, as the map above shows it is just like a big square, eventually we found a sign that would take us back onto the A4.
At one of the many junctions, Dave skipped lane, and the woman driver of the other car tried to give me into trouble for cutting her up, but I wasn't the one driving, so I shrugged my shoulders and showed her both my hands, the look on her face was a picture, well the car did have a GB sticker on the rear of it.
Back on the proper road again, no service station with ATM's, what are we going to do, got as far as Piacenza, and decided to pull into service station, needed the toilet anyway, no ATM!!
Tired, hungry, thirsty, and fed up, lets take stock of what we have
- 4 cans beer
- Part of stale loaf
- Some jam from Mulhouse
- Some fruit pastels
- No money (well not on us)
So it will be some beer and sandwiches of bread and jam, better than nothing.
Right next problem, where to sleep, pull the car into a quieter part of the car park, get the quilt out the back, cover ourselves, and curl up and get some sleep, hopefully tomorrow will be better!!!!!!!!