We packed up our bags and left them at the hotel and went to the train station to pickup our rental car – I could not help myself and had to have a final coffee on the way – great as always – 90 cents
We went to the EuropCar office at the train station and filled in the paper work for the car and then had to wait until someone bought the car to the train station. It was obviously a busy day as a couple of girls came in looking for a car for 1 day and the man said they only had 1 car left which was 120 EURO for the day which is about 300 NZD
We waited for about 20 minutes for the car to arrive which was an Alfa Romeo – 159, only 30,000 on the clock, 6 Speed Manual Gearbox
First off I could not even work out how to start it – I knew from Top Gear that you put the key in the hole and click the Start/Stop button but it did not work. I finally got it going without really knowing what I did.
We fitted the TOMTOM to the window and entered the hotel address as the destination since driving is different than walking the route.
We reversed out and onto the road and into the street. Since I drive an automatic I am not familiar with the 6 speed manual gearbox and we stopped at a set of lights and I placed it into 3rd instead of first since it looked the right spot – I stalled the car and then could not work out how to start it again – STUCK in TRAFFIC – people honking behind me – at least it was a Saturday.
I finally worked out you had to put your foot on the clutch and hold it down to start (should have worked it out at the station).
We drove to the hotel and picked up our bags which fit in the boot nicely and programmed the TOMTOM with TRIORA as the destination – 300 km and about 3.5 hours.
We drove through Milan central where the roads were sometimes not much wider than the car and found the Autostrada (Motorway) entrance and we were off (did I mention the TOMTOM? great – no hassles – I think it would have a been quite hard work with Pam giving me directions as she is terrible with directions saying the maps are not left handed)
The Autostrada speed limit is 130 kph which is 81 mph. Most people go a lot faster – I would say some would be driving 180 kph quite easily especially the Mercedes, Porsche, BMW’s and there are heaps of them all everywhere.
The road is good – 3 lanes out of Milan on the A7 until we changed to the A26 where it dropped to two lanes.
On the way from Milan to where we turned off near the coast to Triora I think we went through about 150 tunnels. Some short 100 meters, some 2km long.
We decided to stop in Savona to get some groceries for our 7 nights in Triora – so we had to leave the Autostrada and pay out first toll. It was 10 EURO from Milan to Savona.
We were not sure were to go to buy food so we put into the TOMTOM we wanted a shopping centre and it found a few – the first 1.1 km and next 35km so we took the first option.
We found the shopping centre and all the parking was underneath it so we drove in the car park but I was not comfortable parking it down there as it takes time to work out the width and length of a new vehicle so we drove out again and parked on the road.
We went in side and found the supermarket or in this case a COOP on the second floor – We found a trolley (normally you have to pay 1 EURO and you get it back later when you drop it back) and went inside. You can buy a stereo, television, game machine, clothes with your groceries in this place.
We went for the food section – there is so much variety there compared to NZ:
- 1.5 Litre water – 45 cents
- 6 eggs – 1 Euro + 80 cents
- Parmesan cheese – depends on the quality but from 12 to 30 euro
- Olives – plastic bag 50 cents to glass jars 2-3 euro but it depends on the type and size
- Pork Chops – 7 euro / kg
We spent 80 euro on food which included 3 bottles of wine – mostly cheap stuff since I don’t know anything about Italian wine.
We bought some 24 month old parmesan, about 350 grams for a bit under 6 EURO
They have interesting toast here – it comes in a package like a pack of biscuits – and yes it is toast – pre toasted – Brittle but actually quite nice
They have lovely other cheeses everywhere and cheap – so we bought a selection. We also bought eggs, pasta, olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salami, prosciutto, lemonade, coke, artichokes, butter and jam.
After the shopping centre we put Triora back into the TOMTOM and off we went (picking up a new motorway toll ticket)
We drove for another 30 minutes and exited the motorway and had to pay 9 EURO in tolls this time so 19 EURO in tolls.
Now we leave the coast and work out way into the mountains – the roads now get quite narrow and in some places very hard for 2 cars to pass each other. Pam mentioned that there is a bus in Triora and it would not be good to meet this on a narrow corner - we inched around a corner with another car from the other direction and the found the bus, but at least we had a wider section of road now.
I put a software application called HEIGHT on the TOMTOM that tells you your height and we could see we were climbing quite fast- our destination is at 700 meters.