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Published: October 5th 2016
eDay 10: What happened to day 7 8 and 9? You may ask! Well I was busy sightseeing and taking photographs and drinking beer and eating food. Also driving between places in Italy and France. The WIFI in some of the places meant it was impossible to access this blog app.
Anyway the last post saw me at Mulhouse motor museum on Day 6 so:
The following Day (Day 7) I took the toll roads and tunnels through The eastern borders of France to Switzerland and then to Italy via the mountain routes. The tolls in Switzerland are paid in one block at the entry checkpoint where you are required to purchase a "vignette" cost of 40Euros thank you very much.
The roads in Swtizerland though are amazing constructions. The vast tunnels and smooth carriageways are the tolls going to work! So good progress can be made along these roads.
Route 28 takes you off the highway 3 and up into the mountains. You will be busy driving here and you really need a passenger just for the photographs! The road is the Fluela Pass. It's winding steep and busy! The Stag found this road easy enough
as an exercise in power output but the gearbox really struggled. By the time the tunnel under Munt la Schera into Italy was reached and the road eased out somewhat the decision to take the easier route today was clearly underlined. The tunnel is worth a mention on its own. its 4km long single track road with traffic light control at each end. The toll for this tunnel is 16 Euros. The exit from the Swiss side pretty much exits onto the top of a dam wall.
The Dam is across the main river flow from Lago di Lavigno. The exit is very picturesque and the road is covered in snow tunnels in many places.
From the Lake and the town of Livigno the road SS301 climbs steeply back into the mountains. This road though just as steep proved to have less hairpins and so fewer gear changes meant that the car settled down into a steady growl as we climbed up to the top of the pass. The road called via Clima Piazzi climbs through steep scree slopes all the way until it joins the very lower portion of the Stelvio Pass and finally drops into Bormio.
The drop down still has a number of hairpin bends and the dropoff over the sides of the roads are masked with trees and buildings. This section of the pass is simplicity itself and its down hill! The car and its gearbox breathed a sigh of relief!
Bormio seems to nestle into the foot of the mountains with steep sides and tree lined slopes on both sides. The road eventually drops down on to the flat and moves away from these mountains but that story is for another day..
Day 8: The day dawned damp. This was the first time since leaving the UK that I didn't wake to glorious sunshine. The idea today was to drive the "Passo del Stelvio" Sadly due to the state of the weather, the road being wet, my gearbox being extremely fragile and the crazy number of cyclists about I decided to leave the pass for another trip. It is sad to have come this far and not achieve the goal but I also have to get home and preferably under my own steam and not on the back of a recovery vehicle.
So walk it was. The day started damp
but looked promising as I set off on a bit of a hike expecting the clouds to lift and provide ample photo opportunities of the surrounding mountains and gorges. The promising start soon lost out as the rain got heavier.. a few shots with the camera phone was all that became possible. The rain just kept coming. I ended up back at the car in a couple of hours soaking wet but pleased that id bothered to go out when the day was at its best. I headed back to the hotel for coffee and lunch.
Sometime in the afternoon when I looked up from my laptop trying to get the wifi to connect and write the days blog; I'd already managed to post some pictures to IG but couldn't get the wifi to connect long enough to connect to this blog; the sun suddenly crashed through the window and onto the screen and made it impossible to see anyway. Quickly switched off and took my phone and myself to the foot of the Stelvio to get some photos at least. Having achieved the best I could I headed back into town for beer and Pizza. Success on that
front in Bormio is guaranteed. Everywhere you go the people are friendly and helpful. OK maybe you don't know exactly what they say to you but the pizza and the beer end up in the right place and in the right order. It was late by the time I got back to the hotel and the light was well and truly gone as I sat checking the route out of Bormio and booking the hotels for the return leg of my trip. The plan was to cut South towards Turin and Milan and into France. Then to drive across France to split the return to the Fery into reasonably equal parts. The route turned out to be Bormio via tolls and tunnels to Chambery. Then toll free to Bourges followed by toll free run back to Dieppe. The route allowed me to take care of the car and its now very whiney gearbox and still enjoy some scenery and take the time let the car cool off now and then.
Whilst I was sat in the room making this plan, a storm crashed into Bormio and dumped an impressive amount of rain and thunder and lightening on the town.
Day 9: Woke to a cloudless sky! Sunshine streaming in through the window reflecting of a good dusting of fresh snow.
The day began with a quick fuel stop and then a cruise through the mountains and tunnels as I headed South towards Milan and Turin. The tolls need to be a significant part of your budget if you plan to do this trip via toll roads only. There are plenty of posts about the road tolls on the internet but you cant believe the variety of costs and the regularity at which the toll stations appear. There appears to be no way to know how much you will have to pay at the next station. Some times you take a ticket and then pay at the next toll booth and sometimes you pay at the next toll booth with out a ticket! I think the 350 KM trip cost me just over 80 Euros including the 44Euros to travel through the 12Km long Frejus tunnel or as the Italians call it "TraforoStradaledel Frejus" For the times I used the toll roads including the "Vignette" for Switzerland I think Ive paid approximately 150Euros in all.
Ibis hotel in Chambery was arrived at and a pleasant but quiet evening was had resting after the 7 hour drive.
Day 10; Today I walked the 6km into Chambery itself. The centre of the town is full of charm and very narrow ancient walkways. Coffee shops and restaurants are plenty and sitting in the sun and drinking coffee fits my idea of a coffee morning perfectly. Playing photographer finding pictures wherever you look means no visit to a place like this will ever be wasted. Wherever you turn there's another quaint flower box or window garden or plaza full of tables with people drinking and eating and talking. When I learnt to speak rudimentary French at school the pictures in our books were of places like this.
Simple drive from Chambery to Bourges for another two night stay. Again some amazing views on the way here. Way too many to picture but some are posted here and many more will be posted in an album which I will link to this blog when I finish it off once I return home.
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