So we woke up from our rest stop camping this morning and hit the road about 8 am for Gruyeres, Switzerland, home of fondue and masters of cheese. Again, French highways are far better designed than their city roads so it was an easy drive…for a while. Then next thing I know, we are going up. Like, up a lot. And the road is getting narrower and everything, and it hits me, we had been so worried about not hitting the Swiss Alps, we forgot about the French Alps! Anyone who really knows me knows I’m terrified of heights, but at this point, there was really nothing I could do but keep driving. So we go up and I go slower and the road gets narrower. And this continues for an hour or two because I am just creeping along. Then we ended up in this little mountain village with the border agents. Fortunately, we had already made sure all our paperwork was in order. Not that they cared. Not a single border guard checked it. They literally just waved us right through. I never even came to a complete stop.
So now we were in Switzerland and we figure we will hit Gruyeres, find some WiFi and a place to stay and explore a bit. Good luck finding WiFi in Europe…at least WiFi that works! We ended up having some fondue (which was delicious), buying some chocolate, and picking out a fondue pot. The fondue in particular was richer than what I’ve had in the past and a bit bolder, plus they brought out potatoes to dip in, which was delicious.
So after lunch, we debated our plan of action. There were no Airbnbs convenient to where we were, and most were in the heart of the Swiss Alps, which…no. So we decided to just aim for Aosta, Italy, right over the border. We found a paper map at a gas station so that we could try to find a route that was primarily tunnels, rather than mountains, and a very kind lady helped to aim us in the right direction. She said the Grand St Bernard tunnel was our best bet, so we set out. Now I am sure that when we said no big mountains, she was thinking of something along the lines of the Matterhorn, and I know my concept of big mountains is pretty wimpy, so wow, did those visions not align properly. We kept going through tunnels, up and around, and I’m getting more and more nervous, and the Swiss drivers don’t care because this was like a speed bump for them so they are just whipping around the curves. It was terrifying.
In the middle of one tunnel, we had to pay a toll and while pulling out of the booth, I nearly ran down the border patrol agent. And again, no passport check. I’m just saying, if these guys are relaxed because they assume my passport was checked by someone before them, they are really wrong. I have been through 3 countries and nothing.
We arrived in Aosta at about seven and had our first cup of Italian coffee, and tried to find a place to stay for the night, but again, no WiFi. Instead, we headed on to Torino, and settled in there. Next up, we aim for Ravenna, Italy.