Italian Trip pt 1

This post may not have much to do with contemporary education apart
from perhaps its cautionary nature. We have acquired a Mazda Bongo,
that is a MPV imported from Japan and converted to a campervan by 4×4
Direct in Kilmarnock. I will attempt to post a picture in flickr
later. Suffice it to say on the morning after the Scottish Learning
Festival, Lis and I set off early to drive to Italy via Dover /
Dunkirk, through France. We had no plans for the first night’s stop
but, having got out of any locality with helpful camping site signs we
dozed and partially froze the night away in a lorry park at M1
services north of Luton. We awoke to patchy fog and a determination
on my part to purchase a warmer sleeping bag which we duly did in
Luton. Purring, down the M1, the M25 and the A something or other we
arrived in good time at a booked site at the Black Horse Farm campsite
north of Folkestone. It was again a chilly night so it was no
hardship to get underway at 5.00 am for the 8.00 am ferry from Dover.
We were well and truly first in the queue for what was an uneventful

In France for the first time with the Bongo we opted for a campsite
too far near Langres where we arrived just before the eight o’clock
deadline. However an excellent Tournedos Rossini made for contented
travellers. The first 500 or so kilometres had not proved a
navigational problem but the exact location of the campsite entailed
an hour of fraught and panicky searching.

The next campsite near Geneva was equally difficult to find as we
arrived by a circuitous route through a little known part of
Switzerland (my obsession with avoiding motorways for that day) but
with the compensation while negotiating the hairpins of the descent of
a splendid view if no photo of Lake Geneva. The final navigational
discussion involved a stop on the side of a busy road but metres from
the camp signpost.

Amidst splendid Alpine scenery and a protracted stop in Chamonix with
a funicular railway excursion for good measure we passed through the
Mont Blanc Tunnel headed for a campsite on the shores of Lake Lugano.
This time the last few kilometres turned into more like 70 or 80
including our otherwise sensible TomTom sat nav taking us over a
mountain pass last used by mules. I for one was glad of the
impenetrable blackness of the night obscuring the precipitous nature
of the verges. The hairpins were of the kind that often require some
reversing. It was fortunate that nobody else was insane enough to
come the other way as passing was mostly out of the question. Phoning
the campsite from what we thought was a few kilometres away made
matters worse as the person at the other end reasonably enough only
spoke Italian and did not recognise my version of the name of a minor
side road some 20 kilometres from her location. Finally she put the
phone down and refused to answer when we made a second attempt to gain
contact. Numerous passers-by sent us hither and thither but
eventually we came across a campsite with its name in huge fluorescent
lights which did not have any letters let alone words in common with
the name of the site we sought. Just after the 10.00 pm deadline it
turned out to be one and the same and did allow us refuge for the
night. In the morning it became obvious that if we had approached
from the North over the Swiss border the directions would have been
plain to the poorest navigator. Coming from the South was what had
made them utterly confusing. However Lake Lugano did compensate for
the perils of night before. Touching wood and all that the Bongo
behaved impeccably throughout its ordeal.


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About robthill

I am semi-retired ICT Staff Tutor in Dundee, Scotland and an online facilitator. The views here expressed are my own somewhat quirky feelings about the world as I see it, no doubt just as prejudiced as most other bloggers.

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