500 Kms, Monaco and a Trip to Italy
Trip Start Feb 15, 2012
191Trip End Sep 17, 2012
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So we had an early start....left home at 830am, got petrol and hit the highway
Just over ninety minutes later we were in Monaco. Now to find a parking space....GPS was saying one thing, Sandy another and I just wanted to follow the signs!! Three times around the block, a few near misses with the crazy scooter riders and we had Pug safely parked.
A quick trip thru the casino was a bit disappointing but we came out essentially "break even". A scan of the car parking outside was much more interesting...a couple of gull wing SLS Benz. Wish I could do a lap of an F1 track in one of them.....like one of my friends has done, I won't mention her name
Then we headed off for a simple lunch and a walk to the Palace. Very impressive, very well done
Then a trip to the royal family's car collection - wow
The Grimaldi family has been there for something like 700 years....Allen, do you know if Sonia Gimaldi from Tuart Hill SHS was part of that the royal family there?? She had a regal demeanor???
Ok we've done Moanco, it's now 430pm let's head to Italy for a swim. Our extensive research (we looked at Google last night) suggested that a town called Latte was just over the border - 20 minutes from the casino. Our dear GPS friend directed us across the border and off the highway immediately onto a two way, one lane road!! Six hundred metres later we were at a beach carpark - perfect. We could get Piņa Colada and coffee and the beach water was warm....only issue was the stone beach.
Nathan and I had a long swim, the other two dangled their toes in the water and retired to the terrace to watch over us. We were safe - seems Italian women wear two piece bikinis unlike their French counterparts.
It seemed sensible to find somewhere nearby to have pasta / pizza for dinner, so we set off. The planning for this part of the journey was a little scant. I simply started following a sign to a town that sounded good, Sandy did a search on the GPS for a good sounding restaurant. The roads were narrow - very narrow and the sheer drop was not protected by old fashioned guard rails....nowhere to turn around and so we continued at a fairly slow pace. It was then we noticed some odd things happening - firstly our route on the GPS disappeared, we were on unmapped areas of Italy. Odd as the roads were clearly not new ones, they could even have been as old as Roman roads...and few repairs done in the intervening years. Then we noticed our phones stopped working - I tried to settle the restless team by saying perhaps we don't have roaming in Italy. The settled a little but were not happy.
With no GPS, I suggested we simply follow old fashioned road signs...but to where. We came to a junction where a young lad was washing down the road, he gave us an odd look, made it hard to go in Direction A and so I suggested we head in Direction B. It was at about this time that we saw a black VW Polo ahead of us. I retrospect it was odd that we caught up to a car as we were going fairly slowly?? We went past a farmer in his fields burning some old rubbish. We continued down to narrow road, at least we were now at the bottom of the valley. We came to a town...phew, we are safe. But then as we turned into the town (calling it a town was probably overstating the UN definition of "town") we came to a one lane bridge, I bravely proceeded across it. On reaching the other side, their were 5 elderly Italian gents watching us, I thought they may have even been quietly chuckling. As I turned the corner to get off the bridge, I saw the black VW Polo, was facing us, blocking our path. One the members of the team suggested we keep going further down the narrow path. I recalled my BHP safety driver training and did the rapid 3 point turn....handbrake turns are not possible with Pug's electronic handbrake.
We quickly pushed back past the elderly gents, who were looking Calabrian? We made it back to the one lane bridge and towards safety but as we neared the end, a car rapidly approached blocking our exit off the bridge. Two rough looking locals stopped and we stopped. I flicked my lights to say "please back up and let us thru", they started backing up a little but then held up a small dog and waved it at us. They did some sort of mocking bite with their hands. I knew they had made an error and they had miscalculated the distance they had reversed. There was room for Pug to get thru, we may lose a smidge of paint but it was our best chance.....perfect driving and we were thru. As we slipped past they waved the dog out the window at us and laughed.
We felt safer but not safe! We headed back the way we had come, past the man burning off....what was he burning? Don't even think about what he may be burning, I am sure it is not the clothes of the last Australian tourists to hide the evidence. We are now back at the boy washing down the street...is it blood he is washing away?? Surely not. I slip past him along the path he was blocking last time. We are safely heading to a town I have never heard of, but a town. It was about then I saw something that I decided the team did not need to know - we always get around 900kms from a tank of diesel, we filled this morning and had done 350 kms, but only had 350 kms left?? Was it the traffic in Monaco or had the "blood spill kid" spiked our tank? We speed along the narrow roads, squeezing past several cars going the other way. Each time we stopped to make it easier / safer but the locals do not even slow. After 7 Kms of the 10kms to the town, we meet two trucks coming towards us. I have to stop and reverse off the road. They go past and I then make the decision that i think will save us from an Italian grave - I did a U turn and follow the trucks
Less than 3 minutes later I regret the decision. We come around the corner and the two trucks have blocked the road. Kate asks me to check the doors are all locked. I am stopped, one truck starts reversing towards us....I reverse a little but the roll forward down the steep slope.
He then pulls across enough to let us thru, is he playing with us or is it a trick? What time does sunset again? We shoot thru and we head back down our last chance route. Ten minutes go by and we see fleeting appearances of roads on the GPS...are we safe? The Italians have one last trick to play on us, we turn a corner and see a clown's head nearby.....it has been severed. Nathan tries to keep the team together by quickly coming up with a tale that it seems they may been simply fun fair castoffs. Well done Nathan.
We then see a big town...hundreds of people, the ocean...saved.
The night ended with a meal of pasta and pizza as planned...perhaps we should not have eaten mushrooms for lunch??