The Gerrard Chronicles 2014 - Traveller's Tales - Milan & back from Italy

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An unusual trip to the Alps & into Italy - Milan & Montreux

September 13th to 17th

We left Stresa on the morning of the 13th & had another traumatic journey, the A to Z Europe atlas not equal to the complications of the Italian road system. Ken was trying to avoid the motorway but in the end, found a new bit not on the map which soon got us, despite vast road works the Italians manage better than we do. However, it took quite a while to fiddle our way into Milan South of the A4, as all directions seemed to lead one back onto it. Seeing a familiar name, Ken headed for it & arrived at Liz & Paolo's flat in time for lunch, after which, as Paolo & Rikki went to basketball, Liz took us for a walk through the vast North Park, photo left below.

Liz & Avis on the Parc Nord walk

Liz, Paolo & Rikki at lunch

As is traditional, we took them out to dinner in a proper Italian Restaurant in the evening, Paolo driving Liz' car. We shared all the food around except Rikki, who got outside of most of a giant calzone. The next day, we had a 'day off' & did nothing except Ken put in some work to make Liz' laptop (Apple Mac) easier to use by installing free software off the web. Leaving on the 15th, the plan was to drive to Breuil by motorway to Ivrea & old road from there. Nice day & pleasant drive but the town was largely shut when we got there. We did get lunch in a pub with workmen having theirs, the only people around. The Tourist Office opened to explain the Italians don't have an "old peoples' season" after the kids go back to school, sabotaging Ken's walk plan.

Deserted Breuil main street)

Towards the top of the Great St Bernard Pass

The top of the Great St Bernard Pass

We headed off towards Aosta & went up & over the top of the Great St. Bernard Pass, which is higher than Breuil, & down to the Rhone Valley to Lac Leman. Villeneuve seemed largely shut as well (maybe this is the recession) but we got into the Hotel Masson, an 1829 stately home converted but in period style, to a hotel. After 4 decades, Ken at last got a good photo of Chillon Castle. The dinner was very expensive but good & the whole experience worth having.

Chillon Castle

The Hotel Masson

Entrance of the Hotel Masson

Sunrise across Lake Geneva

Clarens from the hotel

That was it, really. We went on the motorways to Mulhouse, turned right & took a by-road, the N66, through the Vosges a dfferent way, stopping at Vincey for another lunch with no one else much around, then drove past Epinal to pick up the usual motorway system up into Belgium. Here, we had a problem - the Belgians do not have hotels (?!) & we checked four small towns near the motorway with no success, so drove on to Namur, a proper city. Similar problem. After taking three sets of conflicting advice, we found the Hotel Ibis & took the last room. Ice cream, excellent beer, & a very interesting time chatting to the Kosovan barman.

Next morning, we drove to Dunkirk for the ferry home to avoid the asylum seekers in Calais, who had been rioting. It's also cheaper from Dunkirk &, since the Calais ferries have slowed to save fuel, not much slower, either.

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Contact: Ken Baldry or Avis Saltsman, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)020 7359 6294 or e-mail him or her
This page's URL: Last revised 1/12/2014 Copyright: ©Ken Baldry 2014 All rights reserved but print it off if you want to.