We packed up ready for Italy in the toilets again as it was raining. We left fully prepared to get soaked, but whilst it remained overcast most of the day, the rain held off.
We have found there has been very little clues when your crossing over country borders – no need for passports even. We only guessed it was Italy because the service stations had changed to ‘Ciao’ – no change in petrol prices though.
The first of many tolls costs €27.00 to pass through for the trans-alpine Frejus Tunnel from France to Italy which is an amazing 8 miles long. We then pass a further 5 tolls on-route to Milan ranging from €1.50 – €16.00.
About 20km outside Milan we stop to debate whether to go into the centre or not. I had arranged to meet with a friend from home and stay with her, but armed with only a metro station meeting point, our chances of finding her were always slim. Paul was already annoyed I didn’t have a ‘proper address’ but we decided we’d give it a go anyway. I probably should, actually definitely, should have got an address.
What we had seen of Italy so far had been highway and graffiti. Central Milan however is exactly as I had expected beautiful buildings, cobbled streets, high fashion and lots of sharply dressed men in suits.
We initially tried to navigate using the compass to quickly discover it had broke – unfortunately only after doing a full circle (Paul slightly pissed off). Then I try to ask for directions, which doesn’t work as barley anyone speaks english (Paul more pissed off). Then we follow road signs (Paul even more pissed off as can’t see anywhere we need to head for) and then we retort to asking a guy on his BMW, he is clearly on his way somewhere as we spot his shirt and tie under his bike vest. he informs its ‘very far, other side of town and very difficult’ he then says follow him! So we end up with a personal guide, we did have to jump a few red lights and it tested Paul’s riding skills, as he weaves in-between the crazy and impatient Milan traffic.
The trams, taxis, cars, buses, motorbikes and push bikes all compete for the same road space and as soon as the inevitable jam occurs, all the drivers start to hit their horns. They certainly didn’t appreciate our guide halting the traffic to ask a taxi driver for a directions. He left us on the last leg but told us to continue straight, he gave us both a firm hand shake and headed off. We followed what he said but somehow still didn’t find the meeting point and ended up back on the highway.
We gave up and headed for Como instead. It was 18.00 at this point. We reached Como at 19.30 the iPhone was dying and tourist information closed, so finding where to camp was not going to be easy. I was sent off by the now, hungry and pissed off Paul, to find where we could camp. I asked some local police in the hope they would speak English but they didn’t, so just decided to head out to the lake road instead.
Paul quickly perks up as the roads are quieter and the sun is starting to set which makes a really nice ride. Another biker pulls up behind us, so taking the same approach as in Milan, Paul asked for the nearest camp site. He replies with news you don’t really want at 20.00 after driving 500km – it’s at least 60km to the nearest one. We thank him and continue anyway.
We pull over to take a quick picture and put on the GoPro as might as well get some footage. The guy we just spoke to returns and declares he has found us somewhere much closer to camp – his house. He had just been to check with his wife first. Amazing!
We literally follow him for 2 seconds and we’re there. His house is an amazing villa right on the lake, they even offer a bed, shower and supper – which we gratefully accepted of course.
Eduardo and Catarina and their three boys all speak English perfectly so conversation is easy and they all own motorbikes even the 12 year old! You can drive from the age of 14 in Italy.
We take some advise on the route then go to bed. The following morning is the earliest start we have managed so far – 08.30. packing and getting our gear on takes around 1-2 hours normally? We headed north up the river and took the ferry to Bellagio. We had intended to go to St.Morritz but after another look at the forecast we decided to head to Lake Garda instead.
We’re currently staying in a holiday park for €16 a night and the weather is amazing so decided to stay and catch-up on laundry, chase the carnet, send of details for letter of invite we need for Iran (David at Stan Tours is sorting this for us) and transfer some money as Paul got a call from the fraud team at his bank, an un-manned petrol pump he used in Belgium on the first day was dodgy and some buggers in Korea tried to take some money. So his card has been cancelled. We expected this at some point, but not the first day! New rule is to only ever pay in cash and draw money from big banks. Luckily his mum and step-dad are meeting us in Istanbul so will get a new card then.