We left the hotel at 11:00 and drove just fourteen miles on another glorious morning using sat-nav lady to get us to Den Bosch station. I have been thinking about a train journey with the car for some years now. These services are limited to the summer months and are, I reckon, pretty pricey. Our one-way journey came in at almost £600. There used to be a service from Calais down to Southern France but that service no longer operates, however there seems to be a variety of services from Holland and also Germany. As much as I love to drive when heading for Italy, France, as wonderful as it is, is a lot of miles so the train seemed like a fun option.
We were amongst the first cars at check-in and we were waved forward and were the first car on, which meant we would be the first car off. After leaving the car on the train we went off into the town, which turned out to be a very pleasant place, had a spot of lunch and we were back on the train at 15:30 and pulled out of the station at 16:17 on the dot, scheduled arrival time in Alessandria was 09:50 the following morning.
The compartment was very pleasant and cosy; this is old rolling stock but was just a totally different experience. We had pre-booked a three course dinner and that wasn’t bad either. We had just reached the Rhine by the third course. After that it was off to the land of nod in our compartment which had been converted into a sleeping cabin with Susan taking the top bunk on the basis that she is more agile than me and better able to tackle the step ladder. I thnk she was being serious.
I make a daily commute from the South Cost up to the city so I see plenty of trains, but this was really fun, comfortable, some nice scenery and a very acceptable way of travelling five hundred miles into Northern Italy. Not sure I would want to do it both ways, but one way is perfect.
Night passed fitfully and we got into Alessandria about 25 minutes late. A German train finished unloading and then we walked to our cars and drove ourselves off. One of the negatives of being first in the queue is that everyone else has to walk past my car to reach their vehicle, and there is not a lot of room. Anyway, we got off the train, re-loaded the car and set off out of Alessandria, heading for Genoa.
For sure we had left the Low Countries behind. The previous days we had not experienced a gradient of any description and now we were cruising along some very nice Italian Autostrade through a load of tunnels and some very lovely scenery. We hit queues of traffic as we approached Genoa and it was hot! The A/C was blowing out something approaching cold air and with the cooling fans coming on, lights on through the tunnels it is all quite a strain. But as usual the car seems to cope better than us. Eventually we got round Genoa and didn’t really face any more traffic, but it continued hot and the A/C pretty much gave up the ghost middle of the afternoon when we reverted to open windows, which was probably better anyway. Until you stop!
Next issue was finding the hotel. They had emailed me some directions which looked so clear but we immediately managed to go off route and so followed sat-nav lady. She typically took us a shorter route but through a lot of small roads, directed us down one way streets but we finally made it using a combination of the hotel map and sat-nav lady. But I am telling you now dear reader I will not be driving out of here again until I have to i.e. when we leave Wednesday. My Chianti explore will have to wait until I am in a slightly more accessible hotel. The view is fantastic but so is the climb.
A final note on Italian road signs, they are complete rubbish. I have been suspecting the same for years now on the basis that I have never been able to get to Maranello without getting lost. I am man enough to admit when I am at fault but I realised today it was not me; they are bad. For example, when we were heading out of Genoa, the only place sign was for Livorno. Livorno is way down the coast way past the towns we were passing or heading for. Why would I be looking for Livorno? Why not a sign for at least a couple of the intermediate towns? These are not mentioned until you are there, I mean right there and turning off. There is no warning what-so-ever. Anyway, I think they are crap, which seems another good reason to park up and sit tight in the hotel for a few days relying on the hotel shuttle to get us into Florence and back.
Mileage at the end of the day: 57,598, includes yesterday hotel to the station
Distance covered: 216, I have double checked as it felt a lot longer but that’s what it says!
Two stops for petrol in Holland 94.99 EUR at 1.819 per litre and 88.00 EUR at 2.053 per litre in Italy - £1.64 per Italian motorway litre!! Another good reason to stay put!
Highlight of the day: Driving on Italian Autostrade, 16,659 felt so pleased to be home.
Lowlight of the day: £1.64 per litre!