Friday, July 13, 2007

European Journey: Part I

As my regular reader will know, I frequently travel to Grenoble on business. I normally fly from Bristol to Geneva, hire a car and drive to Grenoble. I've made this journey many times and it has become quite routine. The only unknown is where I'll stay in Grenoble. There is quite high pressure on hotel rooms and unless the trip is set up well in advance getting a room is a bit of a lottery.

I was all set to make one of these routine trips when my presence was requested at a meeting just outside Milan on the first day that I was supposed to be in Grenoble. What to do? I could rearrange my travel to fly to Milan instead of Geneva, but however I got to Milan, I would have to drive from Milan to Grenoble. Well, have may be too strong a word, but in practice driving is the best option. Anyhow, I decided that as I was travelling in high summer and the days were long, I'd keep my flights as organised, and drive from Geneva to Milan.

The route is pretty straightforward as shown on the map below:

From Geneva you take the Autoroute Blanche to the Mont Blanc tunnel. Then you go through the tunnel, through the Aosta Valley and intersect the main Turin to Milan road west of Turin. A pleasant drive through the Alps. A perfect way to spend a summer evening.

When I reached Geneva it was raining and miserable. It rained all the way to the Mont Blanc tunnel. And then it rained on the other side of the tunnel. But the weather did improve as I drive down the Aosta valley and the remainder of the drive was dry. Fortunately.

I say fortunately because the autostrada between Turin and Milan is one of my least favourite roads. It's in the process of being upgraded up the moment, but the non-upgraded parts are the narrowest three-lane carriageway I've encountered. I'm convinced that the road was constructed with just two lanes in each direction, and was upgraded to three lanes by simply changing the lane markings. Overtaking other cars is OK, but overtaking a goods vehicle is interesting. I don't like to think about driving it in the rain.

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