Day 2 – Mulhouse to Abruzzo, via Switzerland
I am writing in my travel journal in the car as we have just left our hotel in Mulhouse. It is 7.01am. It is drizzly and grey. We decided we would get straight on the road, rather than stay for breakfast. We have enough provisions in the car to feed the boys for a couple of hours. We decide that when we stop, we want to stop on the St Gotthard Pass. We reach the Swiss border 40 minutes later. There are no tolls in Switzerland, but you have to purchase a motorway pass at the border. This costs just under €40, but it lasts for a year.
8.15am The boys are asleep. It is raining heavily now. This does not detract from the stunning scenery. However, I badly need a coffee now and so does Will. Will is excited because we just passed a huge sign advertising the European Tractor Pulling Championships. Why this is exciting I don’t know. I didn’t even know it was a thing. Will tried to explain why it is exciting, but I still don’t know.
9.25am There is a massive queue for the St Gotthard Tunnel. Like last year, but not quite as bad, we want the pass though. We are going to attempt to turn off before and hope if we go through one of the little villages we can link up to the Pass. We take the turn off at Wassen and join the pass from there, avoiding sitting in the queue for an hour or more. Hooray!
10.00-11.00am We stopped for an hour at the top of the pass for a much needed coffee and we were all rather excited to see there was a selection of delicious looking cakes. We bought a slice of black forest gateau and what looked like a light, moussey lemon affair, to share. Both were delicious, although Squidge stole a lot of my favourite black forest gateau. I loved the building we visited. It houses a small museum on the history of the pass, along with a gift shop, clean toilets (hallelujah!) and a cafe. The cafe had old photographs and paintings of the pass as it was, which looked rather terrifying in it’s original state. Padawan wanted to buy his ‘girlfriend and future wife’ a swiss mountain goat, as in cuddly toy, not real, although knowing the recipient she would have loved a real goat. As we head out of the building and into the crisp, clean air, Squidge spots a huge puddle and decides to jump up and down in it. We let him have his moment of fun as we will be driving again for several hours.
11.45am We are passing Lago di Lugano. It looks very nice from what we can see, although there are lots of barriers at the side of the road which annoyingly obscure the view. The sun is breaking through the clouds and we are happy we are in the Italian speaking side of Switzerland.
12.15pm We drive through the Italian border. Padawan says ‘I am excited now as we will be home soon.’ We reach our first toll five minutes later. It costs €2.20. We reach another toll, again five minutes later, costing €2.90.
1.20pm We always have the Italian radio on when we reach Italy. We keep hearing ‘molti incidenti’, which is not good. The traffic is heavy. There have been two incidents near Piacenza. Not surprising from the driving we have witnessed so far. Lots of Range Rovers and trucks who are too impatient with the Ferragosto traffic taking silly chances that don’t pay off. The temperature gauge on the car says it is 33 degrees.
3.30pm It is now 37 degrees. We are sitting in a traffic jam very near to Bologna. Thank goodness for air-con.
8.00pm After a very long time stuck in traffic, which we have never experienced like that before (except in Northern Italy), and a final toll of €41.50 we finally reach our home. We have just unpacked what we need tonight and tomorrow morning and are going to head straight to bed.
The boys’ faces lit up when we walked into the house and it made the long day worthwhile
We decided there and then we would not travel at Ferragosto again