This is the continuation of our camping holiday in Italy (see the previous post).
We pick up the journey with an estimated 30 miles of fuel left in the tank. We had just pulled into refuel but the service station closed at the same moment because it had run out of fuel! We had no choice but to rejoin the motorway and carry on with our journey until we could find another service station. We instantly came across a sign indicating the next services were 40 km away – which should have been OK as that is just less than 20 miles. However, that service station turned out to be in a direction different from the one in which we were heading.
So we had a decision to make – do we detour to get fuel or carry on in hopes of finding a service station on our route?
Following last year’s nail biting attempt to refuel, would I make the same mistake again?
Could She Who Must Be Obeyed allow me to be so cavalier with our journey two years running?
Read on to find out…
We decided not to make the detour as we couldn’t ascertain, in the time we had between seeing the sign and arriving at the exit slip road, how far out of our way it would take us. So we carried on. The ‘miles to refuel’ counter then, unexpectedly, hit zero although the fuel gauge needle hadn’t quite dipped below the same point. Once again I found myself suddenly and desperately in need of a service station. We travelled a further 20 miles with the counter constantly on zero, before finding a sign indicating a service station. This year, She Who Must Be Obeyed was well aware that we needed fuel, as she had obviously witnessed the pulling into, and immediately out of, the previous service station, and so she was also on the look out for a place to refuel. What she didn’t know was that the fuel gauge had been showing empty for several miles! Fortunately we came across a service station which was not only open, but also had fuel! And just like last year, the approach road took us up and over the motorway. I had visions of gliding down the resulting slope on the other side and free wheeling to the pump. Fortunately there was enough fuel in the tank for that to be avoided. And just like last year, there was at least one whole litre of fuel left in the tank!
Amazingly we had squeezed out the original estimated 650 miles which, bearing in mind our load and the fact we were towing a heavy trailer, exceeded all expectations! However, ahead of us were still over 500 miles and many of those were through the mountainous areas of Switzerland and Northern Italy – fuel consumption on the next part of the journey might not be quite as good! We were also approaching the much feared St Gotthard tunnel. I say feared, it’s not that the tunnel is frightening, despite being almost 11 miles in length, it’s just that traffic invariably grinds to a halt and queues form for many miles just to get through. So it is feared as it almost always holds up the traveller!
The motorway leading to the tunnel had two lanes, however the tunnel only had one. Traffic is backed up by a series of traffic lights restricting the flow and forcing all the traffic into single file. Trucks are also backed up as they must have at least 150 metres (450 – 500 feet) between them. During the summer months (I’ve no idea about the winter as I have only ever been that way in the summer) this results in what can only be described as a series of car parks! Traffic goes no where fast and does it for a very long time.
A tunnel of that length is also not an ideal tunnel to drive through when one has been driving all night! And as it was now somewhere between 8am and 9am on the Monday morning, and I had been driving for around 15 hours (with an hour off on the ferry and 45 minutes in a lorry park at about 3.30!) it was really time for me to try and get some sleep. As She Who Must Be Obeyed had slept through some of the journey, we decided to swap places – she could have the pleasure of the tunnel, after all, I had driven it four times in the past!
The approach to the tunnel was clear – there were no hold ups. We would be through the tunnel in 30 minutes! So I settled back to rest. The next thing I knew, we were coming out the other end of the tunnel – I had completely missed it! I slept for a whole 30 minutes!
Being in a tunnel for that length of time, SALLY, the Sat Nav, had lost ‘sight’ of the satellites which keep us on track. Waking, as I was from my deep sleep (deep in that we were deep inside a mountain), I was somewhat unsure what SALLY was doing when she suddenly announced “recalculating”. For a moment I wondered whether She Who Must Be Obeyed had somehow taken a wrong turn and had pointed the car in the direction of Austria. Then I realised we had just emerged from the long tunnel, from which there is no exit other than back the way we came or the one from which we had just emerged. It’s amazing what sleep deprivation can do to you!
Within an instant, SALLY announced “unable to calculate route to destination”.
Had Switzerland and Italy had some sort of falling out whilst we were passing through the tunnel?
Was the border now closed?
Had the tunnel taken us to some sort of parallel universe where there is no road between Switzerland and Italy?
Any chance of further sleep was now cancelled. I had to figure out what SALLY was up to before we found ourselves heading toward Croatia.
Would I be able to get SALLY back on track?
Were we destined to be stuck in this parallel universe?
Or worse still, stuck in Switzerland?
Was SALLY just getting us back for ignoring her on the first part of the journey?
Find out next time…(here)