August 03, 2007

Remember, They Drive On the Wrong Side of the Road Over There

Despite a decade of owning left-hand drive cars, I'd never taken either of them back to their natural habitat. Moving to Torino was a hell of a way to change that!

Our roadtrip started last Thursday with the run from Cambridge down to Birchington on the Kent coast. The rain had started whilst I was loading the bikes onto the back of the car, and didn't let up for the rest of the day. By the time we were repacking the car so that Rebecca could fit in it (she'd travelled down earlier that day for her Dad's retirement party) the clouds were throwing all they could at us.

With all boxes of non-essentials abandoned at Rebecca's parents' place (their delivery and delivery method still to be decided...), the next morning the weather had relented and we left for Dover under blue skies.

Compared to the histrionics at Stansted, customs at Dover was a non-event; we were waved through after a flash of our passports - I hadn't even had chance to open Rebecca's!

The ferry crossing was smooth enough, and soon we were on the French autoroute heading south. Largely surrounded by English cars and caravans, but as we put distance between ourselves and Calais the numbers fell away to be replaced by locals. Not that any of the roads were busy, and we made good time as we crossed the country; stopping only for péages (that was a little confusing at first: you get a ticket when you join the toll road section, and only pay when you leave the toll roads - even if that's on a different autoroute), petrol, driver changes and lunch.

It felt strange to have the communication roles reversed whilst we were in France, with my schoolboy French being slightly better than Rebecca's. Still, I was quite surprised and pleased to find that it got us by - including a discussion about the power output of my Integrale with an enthusiastic fan staying at our hotel in Chambery.

Breaking the journey in Chambery meant that the final leg into Torino would only take a few hours, and as we were only picking up the keys to the apartment in the afternoon it meant we didn't need to rush our trip across the Alps. So rather than take the long tunnel Ferré du Fréjus through the mountain, we could enjoy the twisty roads the beautiful scenery over the Col de Mount Cenis.

And the scenery was beautiful. Take a look for yourself. The roads were also nice and windy, but with a fully-laden car and two bikes hanging off the back I couldn't enjoy them properly... this time...

Our last stop in France was overlooking the Lac du Mt. Cenis where we pulled into a little café for some lunch and then it was down the mountain and into Italy. Customs between France and Italy was literally a non-event - there was a barrier that we assume was the border control, but as it was raised and the hut beside it deserted we're not totally sure.

The run into Torino was pretty smooth too. A couple of toll booths to navigate (back to the UK style of toll where you just pay a flat fee to pass the toll booth) but at least here I don't have to get out of the car to pay, and we were soon in the cut-and-thrust of the city traffic.

Even that wasn't as bad as I'd feared. The Google directions again proved that they aren't the easiest to follow once you get into a built-up area, but after a brief stop to retrieve the Torino streetmap from the back of the car we were soon on territory familiar from our earlier visits. The one-way system (which of course doesn't apply when you're learning the city by foot...) provided the occasional hiccup but didn't prevent us from arriving in Via Mazzini pretty much on time.

Three days. Three countries. A thousand miles. Two people who both had a ball.


Posted by Adrian at August 3, 2007 04:56 PM | TrackBack

This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.

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very good!

Posted by: sezam at August 11, 2007 06:31 AM
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