17th to 24th June 2013
To say we never know what is coming next is the understatement of this entire trip. We think we can plan ahead, we try to make preparations, considerations, arrangements for things ‘changing’ (not going wrong) and yet no matter how hard we try…we are still always shocked!
We woke up the morning after the wedding and found the fridge had defrosted in the night. The gas had run out. A great start to the day but not SO bad as we had purchased our last gas tanks in France and it would just be a case of swapping the tank…unlike the usual find a tank, buy a tank and the adaptors and then change all of the fixtures and fittings accordingly.
We thanked our lucky stars, filled Peggys poor radiator with water and collected Janet on route to the gas shop. We were on the road again. We had planned a similar trip with Janet as we had planned with my Mum and Shirley. A few days sight seeing, a few days driving and (maybe) a day relaxing and we set off into the French Alps to enjoy day one of the beautiful drive.
We stopped for some shopping and mainly bought cheese (while in France…) and then we drove 2 hours of stunning scenery and winding roads into the mountains. It was so beautiful but very hard going on Peggys radiator so we decided to stop for the night and complete our journey to Italy the next day and then get the radiator checked over there.
We found a cute log cabin in a campsite that wasn’t opened yet, the owner was busy planting pots and power hosing the drive but she let us stay in a large cabin with an incredible view of a perfectly striking blue lake at the base of the surrounding mountains.
We settled in happily, cooked, ate cheese and drank wine sat overlooking the incredible view. It was lovely to have an afternoon of relaxing.
Of course, little did we know that we would have a good while to relax…Peggy wasn’t up to driving into Italy the next day, she had obviously given it all she had the day of the wedding. We turned on the engine in the morning and along with her signature Vroom came a huge cloud of purple smoke and a choking rattling sound! The verdict was not looking good.
Alex knew what part we needed so we asked (with sign language as we dont speak French) how we could get on-line and order said part. The helpful lady at the campsite told us that the library in the village had free wifi and was open 3 hours a day.
We walked the 1.5km down the hill in the blazing afternoon sun to the library with our laptops and of course had missed our window…the library was shut and the wifi needed a code. We tried to hack it as much as we could but no joy…SO, we started back up the damn hill and realised at that point how unfit we all are. We made it a third of the way and managed to thumb a lift! We were SO grateful and even tried to pay our kind taxi to no avail.
Anyway, I wont bore you with the repetition of our time there but basically it went like this.
We walked up and down that hill a LOT! there was nothing in the village barring a bread shop (which was empty by 9am), a cheese factory and a small local restaurant…which specialised in cheese from the factory next door. Oh, and not forgetting the library, which, once we had the password we could hijack the wifi from the step outside even when it was closed.
We managed to order the part we needed from America (thanks again Spike) and it was due to arrive Friday. That meant we had 5 days to kill. We ate and drank the van dry and even resorted to searching under the cabin cupboards and struck it lucky with a tin of sweetcorn! We made ourselves sick of French cheese and thought we would never eat bread again in our lives!
We bought wine from the 100 year old lady in the village (we should have been dubious when we noticed the potato plant growing in the potato sack) that had almost turned into port it was so old and we watched movies snuggled up on the couch on a night to pass the time and we had a fly killing competition during the day!
I fell down the stairs while packing up the cabin on the Friday that the part was due to arrive and then was royally pissed off when it did not show up!
We had waited and waited and waited. And checked and checked and checked. we had posted signs on the campsite office door, we had spoken with the owner, we had loitered scarily around the reception area but at 6pm we could wait no more. We called America who said they had a failed delivery recorded at 3.30pm that day. I shouted myself hoarse at the poor man until my £18 of credit ran out and then we all sat dumbfounded wondering what the hell we were to do next.
It was Friday! Janet was due on a flight the next day. The van was packed, we were ready to go and we had no part. We moved back into the cabin for the weekend and resigned ourselves to starving to death or at least contracting rickets from lack of fresh fruit and vegetables.
We spent the weekend looking at alternative flights on the library steps and calling the delivery people from pigs to dogs and praying that the part arrived on the Monday so that we could get out of dodge, let poor Janet go home after the worst holiday ever and get Peggy back on the road!
On the Monday we packed…AGAIN…and the campsite opened its gates. The pool opened and we sat by it while we waited for the part to arrive, which it did at 1 in the afternoon.
We had been given directions to a nearby garage to get the part fitted, we fired Peggy up, ignored the purple smoke and hit the road.
We covered a good 100km looking for a garage!
Garage 1 – Closed.
Garage 2 – Closed.
Garage 3 – Next week…too busy putting up shelves in the office.
Garage 4, 5, 6, 7 just said NO!
Garage 8 – Tomorrow if the boss says its ok.
THIS is where we got some information. The 8th mechanic explained to us that unless the insurance company provides the part, they cannot fit it…so we presume that this was the problem all along.
Garage 9 – Tomorrow and Euro 500.
We decided to carry on the next 200km into Italy and ask there, we had made it this far!
We drove over the Alps through amazing scenery and made it without too much drama to border town Rivoli. We got Janet booked into a hotel where she looked at flights and we went to look for somewhere to park…and found a garage that specialises in camper vans NEXT DOOR to the hotel!
We whooped for joy and booked ourselves into a great little wine bar/ restaurant for dinner that night. Janet had booked a flight and we were all happy bunnies! I almost died when we tried the Pannacotta for dessert…you know the rubbery wobbly sugary mess that you have all tried? That is NOT Pannacotta, it was amazing velvety cream with a heavenly fruit sauce that I still dream of now! Such a perfect way to end an otherwise dreadful week!