Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Italy and the home of la Dolce Vita and of course...Gormitti...

The internet is a wonderful thing but it does have its draw backs. One of which is the feeling that with all this information at one so finger tips one should be able to book the perfect camping spot and thus avoid the stressful evenings arriving in a strange country with minimal vocabulary and frayed nerves looking for a place to stop. As an adult I have realized that the reason that Mary and Joseph are always depicted plodding into Bethlehem with her on a donkey looking straight ahead and him stomping in front has less to do with a serene holy family and more to do with her refusing to map read anymore and sitting tight lipped because every hotel they found was either too expensive for what he had budgeted for, didn't have safe parking facilities for the donkey or was in a rough neighbourhood or he was sure he could find a better one at a cheaper price. Jesus was born in a stable because his mother said it was the stable or sod Joseph she was going straight home to her mother and she didn't mind if the straw didn't look fresh she just wanted to lie down. If they had had the internet they would have stayed at 4 star hotel chain and had free continental breakfast throw in for for booking online and very probably free disposable nappies and their photo in the paper as well .

We toyed with buying a GPS before we went on this trip and borrowed my nieces for a few days to see how we would get on. It was a short lived romance as not only did the thing have an aversion to parking under trees, it kept losing its signal thus giving us the option of roasting alive in some Italian parking lot whilst we awaited instructions form the dashboard driver or parking in the shade and admitting we were lost but we also found that French GPS only covers France or at a push a few neighboring countries but nothing as far flung as Greece or Turkey. One did promise to including mapping for 47 European countries ( not including Turkey and Greece) which led to a fun evening trying to name 47 of them only every managing to get as high as 39. Somewhere out there there are 8 nations hidden in Europe of which we know nothing. None of the GPS systems named their 47 countries so in order to answer the question of which ones we would need to spend 300 Euros to buy a GPS so we preferred to live in ignorance or save it for another road trip.Goggle however is my friend and in the months of preparation for this journey I have goggled routes , campsites, places of interest and other exciting details al of which were designed to make the trip as stress free as possible. Thus we arrived via the Mont Blanc Tunnel in Aosta in Italy as night was falling and installed ourselves in a hotel where we ate slabs of pizza with Lorry drivers visited a local supermarket for supplies ( and Gormittis) and drank heady red wine before retiring to the large comfortable beds in our well equiped family room to make use of the ample free toiletries, highly effective power shower, and watch the lights from the mountain chalets glitter in the moonlight. Heidi eat your heart out, we had landed in the land of Gormittis and the boys were in heaven.
The holidays had begun!


(Photo for those happy creatures amongst you who do not possess young boys with a fetish for small Italian plastic creatures here they are Gormittis ...well it could be worse it could be my little ponies)


(photo of the view from our hotel room in Aosta)
Sadly although the route planners were fantastic at navigating us across the vast expanses of pan European motorways and routes national, it had one glaring fault when it came to the finer details. Frankly any idiot, and I include myself in this, can find their way from Paris to Parma by simply following the names on the motorway signs but the devil as they say is in the detail. and that is where Google and all other route planners fall short.

Our first night under canvas was at an Adriatic Beach resort. I had the route map, I had the directions I had Google's careful instructions. "Turn gauche onto the SS16 direction Milan" it commands boldy " after I minute turn droit then gauche and straight on via Enrico fernadez III until it turns right onto via Garabaldi "Google directs with the supreme confidence of a no it all. What it neglects to take into account is that the roads seem to be missing signs giving their names, we have a stream of indignant Italian drivers peeping their horns at you and the city fathers have closed the road which goggle would like you to turn gauche down and you are now lost somewhere in a confusing knot of narrow streets and being buzzed on all sides by zippy little scooters bearing scantily clad Italian youths intent on dying before they reach puberty.

So whilst it may be fair to assume somewhere on our left amongst the 27 options for turning there was undoubtedly a street of that name it is not marked and with every person on the pavements we hailed from the window of the Landrover responded to our yelled "scusee senora!" with the Italian equivalent of " sorry mate no idea I'm a tourist myself". A long stream of traffic building up behind us navigation was interesting but not enjoyable. Luckily Him is not only an able driver but also a cunning linguist ( careful how you say that) despite not speaking Italian he managed after several tries, to spot the natives from the tourists, gather directions from them and locate our destination, a campsite which was like all campsites on the Adriatic coast bulging at the seams and the wrong side of the railway tracks
.

When Mussolini sorted out the railways and made them run on time it appears he did not have the forethought to envisage the future prospect of tourism of his beloved Italy.T
he views from the trains must the stunning, the views of the trains are not.The trains run fast, frequently and efficiently all night past each strip of idyllic sand bordered by crystal seas and one tired and grumpy camper restless in her tent surrounded by snoring family .


(Photo of a rare bit of heaven on the Adriatic coast minus the pepetual clang of the trains!)

9 comments:

Tattie Weasle said...

Ah you see that's the problem I had these last two weeks the unremitting snoring from all three of them, Dear Charlie on Base, The Boy on descant and Bog Boy on tremmalo! Hopefully the noise of the trains passing helped drown yours out...

Friko said...

Well, without all of this it wouldn't have been a proper trip! come on, be honest, you loved it really.

The only time I've ever consulted Google's road map I was so disgusted I threw the damn thing out of the car window. Google expected us to fly blithely over intersections, negotiate one way traffic the wrong way and took us on to dirt tracks that ended, theoretically, on a motorway, but, landed us, in effect, at the entrance to a field, with the motorway the other side of the ditch between the field and us.

All that was in France, where they keep changing the roads and building new ones at five times the rate they do in the UK.

Look forward to the next instalment.

bayou said...

This is exactly how I imagined your adventure, love the writing. In times when there was nothing like GPS or google maps, people just relied on their instincts and eventually arrived at destination. We are often too much concentrating on those "help me find" things.
The other thing is when you have a driver and a co-driver and both have an instinct of the direction to take.....

Fennie said...

Go on - admit it. You're actually having a whale of a time. And we're having a great time too reading about it.

Pondside said...

I'm having a great time imagining the vehicle, loaded to the gunnels - something between the truck in The Grapes of Wrath and the jalopy in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. More please!!

muddyboots said...

this is sounding like trip with maiden aunt, it is so much better to be spontaneous than planned planned planned

Elizabethd said...

Have found that viamichelin is v.good at telling you how to get there, but it is the unexpected that floors one, no road sign, route barree etc.
GPS are hopeless. Ours kept sending us to the Vatican for some unknown reason.

Cousin Mark said...

Dear Cuz, GPS can be weird. I just got back from my trip to Alaska. I drove from San Francisco to Vancouver with a GPS. All went well outside cities but arriving in Vancouver, the GPS decided to have a conniption fit. I was driving along Burrard St but the GPS decided that Burrard St was 3 streets away and nothing I did would change its mind. So technology has its limits.

Bluestocking Mum said...

My boys would have loved those Gormittis!
xx