We got a holiday on Thursday 25th May and we all saw the opportunity of a great vacation. So taking a leave from office, it was planned that we would go on another trip to Italy but this time to the city of Venice. The fact that Vijay’s mother whom we all call mummy was visiting him and she had not seen a major part of Europe made the vacation a lot more special.
We needed a bigger car than the BMW. The hunt started but as the whole of Amsterdam was eager to go on a holiday; it was difficult to find a car. As the day of the vacation came closer, it looked like a lost vacation for the want of the car. Vijay was also looking for Flight options. When we finally lost hope as the day finally arrived, we got an unexpected help from a close friend who arranged the 7 seater Opel Zafira for us.
Our 'Ride'. The car was filled with snacks to the brim
After that it was just fighting to keep the deadline. We had to do the shopping for snacks, packing, completing the pending work in the office so that no one misses us on Friday. It was a hectic Wednesday.
Finally at 10:30 PM in the night we set to capture Venice. Starting so late certainly helped in terms of almost no traffic. As Mummy did not have a Switzerland visa, it was decided to take a longer route. So it was from crossing Belgium, France and then entering Italy through the south of France. We managed to cross Netherlands before midnight. The time we entered Belgium and most of the France, we were greeted with heavy rains. This made progress a little slow and risky. Still Vijay and Pranav drove quite well to enter France. However as there are no Road lights on the France Highway, it was becoming quite difficult and dangerous to drive through France. At one time, we had to park the car at the gas station and wait for the rain to clear.
Anyways, we had enough time to reach Paris. As we were just passing Paris, we decided to see Eiffel Towers again. But this time we saw it from the distance. When we entered Paris, Paris was still asleep. It was somewhere 600-6:30 AM. Luckily we were able to find a perfect way to see the Eiffel Tower. It was from a hill right opposite to Eiffel Tower. The sky was a little cloudy and it had just rained. The light was bluish and the Eiffel looked just beautiful against the backdrop of the blue sky. I have seen the Eiffel earlier but seeing in the morning with the sun just rising but no sunlight is another experience. It is said Eiffel looks wonderful at light with thousands of bulbs lighting the whole Eiffel. A Morning Eiffel view is worth being there early.
The Eiffel Tower in the morning. A little bit of drizzle and the morning bluish sky made the Eiffel a spectacle to see. Below another view of the Eiffel
It was a touch and go after Eiffel because we still had a lot of way to go before Venice. We were hardly 30 minutes in Paris when we started for the journey to Paris again. We had to pass Lyon and then through the Mont Blanc tunnel cross to Italy to Milano and then to Venice.
The road to Lyon after we came out of Paris. The Picturesque France landscape. We would be reaching Italy by afternoon
The journey through France was through lots of picturesque Alps. The Alps have really fascinated me. The last time we visited Italy we passed through Switzerland and that was the first time I saw the Alps. I have seen the Sahyadris in Maharahstra but never have I seen so big mountains. The Highest peak in the Alps stands at 4807 Meters is called Mont Blanc. I guess there is a pen named after the peak too.
The Glaciers on the Apls. We are way past the winter but snow is present on Alps for almost the full year.
A tunnel called the Mont Blanc Tunnel connects France and Italy. The tunnel itself is 11.3 Kms. It is a long tunnel but shorter than what exists in the Swiss alps. As Pranav was driving, he could not see the cloud and snow covered mountains. We decided to stop at a parking to have a glimpse of the Alps in its true glory. We had no idea that the entry to the tunnel existed just a few meters from us. We captured the snow capped mountains on our camera when Vijay saw a small muddy path going into the mountains. "
The snow capped mountains at the France side of the Mont Blanc tunnel.
We decided to stop at a parking to have a glimpse of the Alps in its true glory. We had no idea that the entry to the tunnel existed just a few meters from us. We captured the snow capped mountains on our camera when Vijay saw a small muddy path going into the mountains.
As we had enough time, we decide to explore the path. So again we all got into the car and drove up the muddy path. We had driven only some distance when there was a dead end, atleast for the cars. Another car there suggested that this was not the end of the road. A small winding road enough for people to walk went up the mountain.
As we got out of the car, we could not resist the air of a little adventure. Leaving Ranjana and mummy in the car, the four of us walked up the hill. We could hear the sound of a small waterfall at a distance. It did not take much time to find the source of the sound. There were twin waterfall or rather a spring running parallel to each other. The water was from the melting glaciers we could see from down there. We also had seen some cable car hanging high up in the mountains.
The cable car at the top of the mountain. I am glad my camera has a 10X zoom
The top of the mountains was not visible but finding a stream was an adventure in itself. The water was clear but cold. Sheena, Pranav and me crossed the stream to go on the other side. Although not very big, the stream was running downstream along a steep mountain slope and the slippery stones made it even more dangerous. The climbing and the crossing took me back years during my school days when we use to go hiking. The last time it was a walk through the forest and this time it was the stream. We decided to climb a little further only to find more people walking. We also found a small wooden bridge specially made to cross over and all that efforts we took balancing on the slippery stones and that too without any shoes because I was wearing slippers for comforts.
The Stream running down the mountain. Another stream ran parallely to it
The water was cold but crystal clear. The setting was left undisturbed by humans yet.
The bridge was wobbly and again I remembered the numerous Hindi and Hollywood flick where the hero is running on a wooden bridge and the bridge is blown by the villain. Nothing of that sort happened but Sheena had her doubts. She has this fear of heights and Pranav and I had to hold her to walk to the middle of the bridge. Vijay in the meanwhile had walked down to the car. We were hardly there for 20-30 but the walk to the mountain was worth it.
The bridge on the Stream "Kwai". The wobbly bridge to cross the stream. We took a more dangerous path over stones and water.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel " The Italian side at the end of the 11.3 Kms Mont Blanc tunnel
The sky and the weather turned sunny at the Italian side of the Mont Blanc tunnel
The long road to Venice. First came Milano. Remember "Torino". That is where the Winter Olympics were held this year.
Later when we continued the journey, the climate was turning out to be better. The more we were into Italy, the more sunnier it was. Last time also while traveling through Italy, I had observed, Italy looks more like India or for that matter looks more like Mumbai. If you have seen Ballard Estate in Mumbai or the south Mumbai, Italian cities look more like that. The first thing that was more resembling to Mumbai was the traffic. We had to bypass Milan to go to Venice and that’s when disaster stuck. With just about 100 kilometers from Venice, we were stuck in traffic jam near Milan. We could have driven and been very close to Venice to next day just enter Venice. Sadly we wasted more than 2 hours in the traffic. Again it reminded me of my journey back home from office when our office bus would get stuck in traffic which did not seem to move at all.
Finally when we moved out of the traffic, we were beyond our schedule. We decide to find a decent motel/hotel for the night. The hotel away from Milan was in the middle of an industrial estate. Why was it built there, well I don’t know because the moment we open the windows, we could hear was the sound of the machines. There was another surprise waiting for us. The Hotel had a restaurant (it was a 4-star hotel) but did not serve pizza. How does a restaurant in Italy not serve pizza? Its like a udipi restaurant in India not serving sambhar or a Punjabi restaurant not serving alu mutter.
We asked the reception for a pizzeria near-by. This near by was 5 kms from the hotel. We hoped into the car to find the pizzeria to eat authentic Italian pizza. The trip to the pizza was worth it. The return trip from the pizzeria was not that fun. We lost our way and it took us time to get back. The hot pizzas in the boxes made the wait even more difficult. Finally we did made our way back and retired for the night after relishing on the tasty pizzas. 2 days later, we were tired of eating the pizzas.