Sunday, December 20, 2015

A whirlwind trip to Austria, Italy, and probably Switzerland, part 9

Bill came back from his final meeting in Vicenza by 10:00am.  That meant we were free to pack up and leave.  I was pretty ready to go.  Don't get me wrong.  Vicenza seemed like a nice town based on what little I saw of it.  I was just really looking forward to our hotel in Switzerland, which I had been eyeing for years.  That, and it seemed like the air quality in and around Vicenza was really terrible.  I noticed a lot of smog around Vicenza and Verona.

I hadn't realized how long it was going to take us to get to Vevey, Switzerland.  For some reason, I think of the countries in Europe like states in America.  Like there will be big interstates connecting them easily.  That's definitely not always true.  As it turned out, it took all day to get from Vicenza to Vevey.  We were forever stopping to pay tolls, too.  I think we paid about 50 euros worth just to get out of the country.  Then we had to take St. Bernard's Pass, which was almost another 30 euros.

Our drive to Switzerland introduced me to the Auto Grill phenomenon.  Sure, I'd seen truck stops before, both in the United States and Germany.  For some reason, when Bill and I travel, we rarely stop at them.  We learned our lesson in Italy.  When you drive on the autostrada in Italy, you take a ticket at the beginning of your journey, then pay when you get off.  We got off the autostrada in Bergamo, searching for a place to have lunch.  We found no easy options, so we got back on the road.  I told Bill we should just stop and eat at an Auto Grill.  The first one we stopped at was just a snack bar.  The second one had a full service cafeteria style restaurant.


And, as to be expected in Italy, the food was pretty good.  I had chicken with fries.  Bill had salmon and potatoes.  I had a piece of yummy chocolate pie for dessert and Bill had some kind of delicious custard.  I know we have truck stops in the States, but this was pretty damn impressive.


The one and only Italian beer I drank in Italy.  Wine is ridiculously cheap and good there.  Beer is not their speciality, though this one wasn't too bad.


The outside.  We had a lot of sun.

Auto Grills also offer relatively clean places to pee for free.  They also sell lots of stuff... stuff that I might even consider buying.  Seriously, they have all kinds of high quality Italian foods there, everything from sausages to dried mushrooms (yecch).  And you can get gas for your car, too.


Cool looking bridge as we headed toward Turin.  The following pictures are of the magnificent scenery, kind of ruined by the poor air quality.















When we had to pee again, Bill ended up at an Agip station.  We walked in and I was shocked to see a Confederate flag.  Yes, we were in Italy, not far from the Swiss border.  An Italian friend commented that perhaps the owners of the gas station were from southern Italy.  Who knows?  But you can buy your olive oil there, too.


I took a photo of these cheesy looking Italian liqueurs because they reminded me of something else.


The drive to the huge pass between Italy and Switzerland was absolutely beautiful.



















I ran out of juice in my phone in the big tunnel.  I had just enough to tell people we made it to Switzerland before the damn thing conked out.

All in all, we had a nice time in Italy.  I'd like to go back, though maybe not to Vicenza... or maybe to a different hotel.  Don't get me wrong.  I see why people like Hotel Victoria.  It's great if you're doing business or moving to Italy.  It's also great if you want to shop, which is what I ended up doing.  But to see the actual town or do things without taking the bus or driving, you need to be located elsewhere.

I guess if Bill asked me to go back with him, I'd go, though.  We had wonderful food in Italy and I did pick up some great stuff for the kitchen and my wardrobe.  I didn't spend a lot of money, either... except on the tolls!







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