Posts Tagged ‘italy’

There are going to be a lot of pictures and not many words this time. At least the first half…

On our last day (apart from the flight home) we drove from Geneva over the Alps to Turin. We knew the only way to go was through the Mont Blanc tunnel and we were very excited about it! Imagine driving 7.25 miles through solid rock. Awesome, right? Well, it went by pretty quickly. I tried not to pay attention.

On the French side of the tunnel we wanted to stop and take some scenic pictures, so we pulled off at the first turning. Small town called Courmayeur. Well, they had a gondola ride thingy where you could go up the mountain. So we bought tickets, just to see how scared I would get riding up in the tiny, dangling box. We had no idea it went all the way to the top.

Let me say that again. It went all the way to the top. 11,371 feet up.

This is where I stop talking.

Mont Blanc itself:

Do you see the glacier?

The smallish, triangular peak in the middle distance is the Matterhorn.

I could go on and on, but I won’t bore you. It really is something you need to see in person. We stayed up there for four hours. It was amazing and awesome and an absolute must see. Go there. Seriously. Or, just go HERE and look at the rest of our pictures.

After we travelled back down the mountain (by the way, I don’t like heights and I did NOT like this journey!!) we drove onwards to Italy and Turin, where we were staying the night.

Now, I am going to try to make this brief as well. I LOVED Turin. It was my favourite stop on our tour, I liked it better than Venice and even better than those mountain views above you. Well, maybe not that last one, but you get the picture.

We were there for only a few hours but we got a lot done. We had an excellent map and actually found everything we were looking for quickly. It was already dark when we got there, but my camera takes great pictures in the dark, which is lucky!

We saw museums, palaces, churches, all by the light of the moon. All of our pictures can be found HERE. My favourite part of the city was the original Roman city wall and gate.

If you know me at all you know I am a sucker for Roman history, monuments and the like. This was like accidentally walking into a dream. Honestly, I pranced around for a good half hour touching bricks and going, “Look how old this is! How long it has been here!!”. S gave up on me and wandered off on his own after a while.

I must have walked in and out the gate five or six times pretending I was a chariot. Why a chariot, you ask? Because you could see the chariot wheel marks in the stones on the ground. Maybe not chariot wheels, but wheels of some kind, anyway. See?

If you go to Italy, go to Turin. OK, go to Venice and Rome and Pisa if you must, but I would skip all that and just go to Turin. Every building in the old town was more beautiful than the next. It just seems like every single person who has ever lived in Turin and had any money or influence used it to make the city a better, more beautiful place. Honestly, it was fantastic. I would go back again in a heartbeat. I would spend weeks there. I would live there, probably, if I spoke any Italian…

Although if I did live there then I’d probably weigh about 20 stone because we had dinner that night in a Ristorante on the Via Plana and it was, hands down and by far, the best pizza I have ever eaten. The place was called Rubirosa and this is a picture of it in case you are ever in the area:

As usual, the rest of our Turin photos can be found HERE.

Well, it may have taken a long time for me to get here, but that is the end of our trip to Europe. I know I have said this before, but I would go back again. I would go back again tomorrow if I could. We had a great time. We saw everything we wanted to see and more. We drove a long way. We ate a lot of Italian food.

My favourites? Venice, Mont Blanc and Turin. Where wouldn’t I go again? Milan or Zurich.

So, there you have it folks. Italy, Switzerland and France. Hope you liked it!

Day 6 – Lausanne & Geneva
Day 5 – The Alps, Rothrist & Zurich
Day 4 – St Moritz
Day 3 – Milan & Nembro
Day 2 – Venice
Day 1 – Airplane & Selvino

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Sorry for the hiatus, folks, but I’ll try to tie up this Europe trip blogging ASAP.

On the fifth day of our journey we checked out of our hotel Italy and drove over the Alps to Switzerland. We had planned to take the Furka Pass over the mountains which, if you are a fan of James Bond, you would recognize from the film Goldfinger. We left quite early in the morning, but not before we’d stopped in at the café down the street for a cappuccino. There is also a glacier cave there which you can walk into, which I was very much looking forward to.

We were worried about driving over the border because in Switzerland you require a paid pass to travel on the motorways and this is not something we had. The pass cost about £40 (for two days worth of driving on the highways, seems to me that Switzerland has the right idea here, people!).  It turns out that we had nothing to worry about – if you were without a pass then as soon as you went through passport control you were waved into a separate queue where you could purchase them before continuing.  Lucky for us!

The drive through the countryside was beautiful, and you could see yourself getting higher and higher by the amount of snow on the ground. The weather was pretty cloudy, but the views were still wonderful.

Beautiful village in the valley.

Unfortunately the Furka Pass was still closed because of snow.  We were very sad about this because, while we hadn’t planned much before we left the UK, we had really been looking forward to this drive and seeing the glacier.  This also meant another hour or so of, comparably dull, highway driving.  We ended up taking a detour to another pass – according to the board at the side of the highway it was the only one that was still open.

It was not.

Snow, and, in the background, the red & white barricade across the tunnel entrance.

We stopped at a turn-around at the top of the mountain and had our lunch overlooking the valley.  The views were spectacular, you could see right down into the village and, across the valley, a frozen waterfall standing out a stark blue against the black/brown rocks.  It was quite surreal, but wonderful. We were parked there for a long time just enjoying the views and listening to Idlewild’s The Remote Part (which seemed extremely fitting).

The road, up to the pass and back down again, was very narrow, as usual, and the edge of the road was a sheer drop, as usual. Neither S nor I are big fans of heights and, as you can see by the picture below, we weren’t given much hope by the guardrails in the area:

In case you can’t tell, that 1/3 inch thick metal rod in the middle of the picture is supposed to be a guardrail. Awesome.

After driving back down into the valley and rejoining the motorway we drove on towards Rothrist. We were staying the night  in a roadside hotel in the car park of a truck stop, which turned out to be absolutely perfect.  It was clean and comfortable and the staff were very friendly.  The first thing we did when we got there was ask at the desk how long it would take to drive to Zurich, and the woman just said, “Why would you want to do that?”

At first we were both questioning whether she was telling the truth or whether she just wanted us to stay local and spend our tourist money there.  Well, it turns out she was right. Zurich was awful.

I hate to bring judgement down on the entire city based on our half-hour drive through, but it was awful. The entire city was under construction (in fact, the entire country was under construction – there should be a warning sign when you enter Switzerland!!) and everywhere we turned was a derelict building or a horrible hole in the ground surrounded by wooden hoarding covered with graffiti. Awful. Add to that the fact that we got lost and the fact that it was pouring down with rain so hard we didn’t even bother getting out of our car, and you have an unsuccessful trip.

A picture of Zurich in the rain.

I am glad we went, though, because now I can say I have been somewhere that starts with a “Z”. Excellent.

We drove back to Rothrist for dinner and I am happy to report that the town is more than a car park. In fact, we had a lovely meal there  afterwards took a fine walk in the crisp air. The main street is extremely beautiful, as you can tell by the picture below.

There was a river junction in the town and I was so impressed by the diamond-clear quality of the water that it was basically all I could talk about for days. No, seriously, I was wandering around going “Look how clear that water is! Isn’t it amazing?”

So, not the best day of the trip, but taking into account the fact that Zurich was such a disappointment, the Furka Pass was closed, and we took an hour-long detour up a mountain only to turn around and come right back down again, the day was entirely enjoyable!

If you would like to see the rest of the photos from Day 5, you can find them HERE.


Day 4 – St. Moritz
Day 3 – Milan & Nembro
Day 2 – Venice
Day 1 – Airplane & Selvino

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