Swiss Roadie Trip Day 5 – Monza
14th June 2019
This morning we are up early. Breakfast is served from 8-10, so the old man is on his starting blocks well before 8. We paid £108 for our little motel room, so I’m expecting great things from breakfast. We get a bread basket, some cold cuts and 3 sachets of jam.
After breakfast, we set off for Milan. At the world’s most complicated road junction, we take a wrong turn and end up on the right road in the wrong direction. To rectify the situation, we must pass through a 10 km tunnel (twice). The issue arose at a fork. I said ‘don’t go right’ and we went right. Apparently, it’s my fault: I should have said ‘keep left’.
Finally, we are heading south, or not north, depending on your point of view. Today’s drive is a combination of beautiful mountain scenery interspersed with numerous tunnels. In all, we notch up 54 km underground – I feel a bit like a Womble. Half way through the 17 km long Gotthard tunnel, the road signs change from German to Italian and when we finally emerge, we are in the Italian part of Switzerland.
We cross the Italian border and are happily driving along, when we spot a not particularly large sign stating that we are in a booth free toll area and have 15 days to pay online. We stop for supplies in a supermarket. One thing that I often miss when I travel is good cheese. Not a problem I will be having in Italy!
We reach Monza Park and have a picnic by the edge of the race track. Apparently, during the week, the track is open to the public. I have told daughter No 2 that we are taking her hired van for a spin and take a photograph of the van by the track sign to send her. I find this way funnier than she does.
After lunch, we walk to the track. It takes a while to work out where to go in the huge 113,000 seat complex. Parts of it are closed. But there’s also a lot of action; people with passes, security guards, visitors milling around. I’m all for striding on brazenly until stopped. But the old man is way too square for such behaviour.
Eventually, we find our way into a stand on the Ascari Chicane. We watch three cars pass by, then nothing. We wait a while, thinking we’re too late. Then all off a sudden, there’s a crescendo of noise and proper GP style racing cars appear. It’s an unexpected bonus.
During a break, we move to the main stand, opposite the pit lane to watch the next session.
Then we head to our hotel in Milan, excited but deaf. At the hotel I attempt, unsuccessfully, to access the motorway toll (Pedemontana) website. It’s not easy; apart from the fact that it’s all in Italian, the validation link doesn’t work and the website is incompatible with my phone, with all the text boxes overlapping each other. Let’s hope I can sort it within 15 days, as the fine for non-payment is €338.
Swiss Roadie Trip Day 6 – Milan
15th June 2019
It’s Saturday – AKA parkrun day. Today, we’re going to Milano Nord parkrun in Milan’s Parco Nord. This morning’s run has pros and cons. Pros: (1) it’s a scenic route (2) it’s flat (3) the participants are of diverse ability, so I’m not on my own at the back and have someone to follow. Cons: (1) there are a lot of other park users to avoid (2) my knee hurts (3) I’m not fit (4) it’s bloody hot.
I persevere and make it to the finish line. There was supposed to be water, but the fast runners have drunk it all. So I hobble off to the supermarket dehydrated and grumpy.
For breakfast, I buy spoonable Gorgonzola. Cheese you can eat with a spoon! I love Italy. We return to the hotel and I have Gorgonzola and blueberry jam sandwiches. Literally the best breakfast ever. No longer grumpy.
Our hotel room has a bath. It seems like a good idea until afterwards, when I realise I don’t know how to get out one legged. Luckily, I find a way. I’m hoping to advance a few more years before I need help in the bathroom.
In the afternoon, we take the Metro into Milan. Outside, the temperature is 31 degrees. The train is like a sauna on wheels. The lady opposite keeps wiping the sweat off her face with a tissue. She started the journey with pencilled in eyebrows. By the time we arrive, she looks like Harry Potter’s nan (zig zag mark on her forehead – I thought it was funny!)
We arrive in the main square next to the enormous Milan Cathedral with its 135 spires and 3400 statues. It’s quite spectacular. To visit, you need to queue to get a ticket to join the queue to buy a ticket before you can queue to get in. Finally, we make it into the cathedral, which is all carved pillars and stained glass.
Back outside, there is a lot of noise in the piazza. We go and investigate – it’s the Milan Rally Show. The competitors and their vehicles are all lined up. Italian Stig appears to be among them.
We continue to the Museo del Novecento; a modern art gallery in a stone building with a large glass spiral staircase running through the centre. You work your way up the galleries. The artwork appears to have been ordered from best to worst.
It’s been a long day, so we decide to head back towards the hotel in search of pizza and beer.
Leaving Milan is complicated. We need €1.90 interurban tickets but accidentally purchase €2.00 intraurban tickets (or maybe the other way round – I’m not sure). Anyway, our tickets don’t work in the turnstiles next to the machine that dispensed them. We are sent to the office to swap tickets. After filling in some paperwork, we must pay €1.70 to change 2 x €2 tickets for 3 x €1.90 tickets. We don’t want three tickets, but the cashier explains that they can’t give refunds and their books must balance, so we must buy a superfluous ticket. There is a full and frank exchange of views. The old man accuses them of robbing tourists. We are asked to leave.
We return to our hotel, via a pizzeria. Our weekend in Milan has been interesting but exhausting.
Swiss Roadie Trip Day 7 – Lake Como
16th June 2019
It’s time to start the first leg of our 900 mile drive home. First stop, brunch in Como. After four circuits of town trying to find a parking space, we are finally successful. We pick up supplies from a supermarket next a a giant hand sculpture for a picnic on the shores of Lake Como.
Alessandro Volta, inventor of the battery, was from Como. There is a museum in his honour, Tempio Voltiano, on the shore.
You can walk along a jetty to the Life Electric sculpture in the middle of the lake. It’s not a very pleasant walk – both the jetty and the lake are covered in debris.
We stroll along the prom until we reach the funicular. From here you can, theoretically, travel 720m up the hillside for a stunning view of the lake. However, the old man declares that the queue is too long, so we return to the van and continue to our overnight destination of Morcote; a picturesque town just the other side of the Swiss border.
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