Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 7 Drive to Amelia's House

We left Furina early today, as it was a reasonably big drive to my friend Amelia’s house just south of Milan, and because it was my birthday, we decided we wanted to pop into Switzerland for lunch (just to add another country to our list). Richard and I are getting used to the motorways now, and I am getting the hang of not turning off as soon as the GPS gives a direction (checking the distances first). Once we got to the Swiss border, we were ripped off bigtime, having to pay 30 Euro for a toll pass for one year, even though we knew there was cheaper, and were only going to be in the country for an hour or so! There was no budging the non-English speaking border control people, so we coughed up, but bitterly! Things went a bit hazy with the GPS when we were looking for a lunch spot, so Richard pointed to a hill road and said “go up there” – I was driving, and so off we went... up and up the hillside (you know the story – cliff on one side and stone wall on the other..) road narrowed to just camper width, and I started to chicken out... then it was narrower than camper width, so guess what, I was the lucky one who had to back the darned camper down the hill, being careful not to hit the brick wall on one side, nor to drive off the cliff on the other. I made Richard get out to check behind us and direct a bit, and luckily we finally managed to find a (tight) turning spot, and ended up facing the right way down the steep hill again. We ended up stopping for lunch in a carpark, close to a cache that Richard wanted to do (up another fairly narrow winding hill road). It was lucky we had stopped there apparently, because Richard came back from the cache saying that the road narrowed considerably between buildings and the camper definitely wouldn’t have fitted!

So much for Switzerland... we left 30 Euro worse off, and didn’t even see a cuckoo clock!

After that, it was back on the motorway, headed for Milan. As seems to be usual for us, we hit Milan right on 5 pm, so the traffic was very busy. For some unknown reason, the GPS routed us right through the middle of the city. We have come to the conclusion that Italian drivers are really quite mad, especially the ones on motorbikes!! There are no lanes painted on the town roads, yet they are about three lanes wide (give or take a lane depending on how many people are double parked). Richard’s theory was that we are bigger than everyone else so we would just aim for the middle and hope for the best! This theory seemed to work quite well for us, and we made it through unscathed. Richard was most proud of the fact that he actually passed a Lamborghini.

Finally we made it out the other side, and again pushed our way in to lines of traffic, until we arrived in Vairano, where Amelia lives. All we had to go on was a Google Earth waypoint, no phone number, or address. Amelia has been in Italy for 3 years grooming for an Olympic level eventing (and dressage) rider, Emma, another girl we knew from Sarah’s pony club, was also grooming there. Suzie, the rider, has both an eventer and a dressage horse qualified for the world equestrian games in Kentucky later this year – a first for an Italian rider apparently. We got to meet the star horses, examine their saddles and bridles, see the amazing facilities – indoor arena, outdoor arena, show jumps, whole cross country course etc. The horses are stabled most of the time, so looking after them is quite labour intensive. We also got to see inside Suzie’s truck (or lorry), an absolute monster, painted in Italian colours. Inside was room for 4 horses, grooms quarters, leather lounge suite, flat screen TV, push out wall section and push up roof section (to make a bedroom for Suzie) – WOW!.

We went out for dinner that night – to a local Pizzeria, and Amelia had to order for all of us as the waiters only spoke Italian. I had my first taste of truffles (on my pizza), and they were delicious. Kind of like salty mushrooms. Hayden, who is a bottomless pit at the moment (he must be growing, as all he does is eat and sleep at every available opportunity) – couldn’t believe his eyes when we got a whole pizza each, and he was the only one who polished off his whole pizza. We also had wine, and finished off with sorbet, so was a lovely evening out, and Amelia and Emma were very happy to have English speaking companions for a change.