This is the continuation of our camping holiday in Italy (see the previous post).
Previously, on this journey…
We had survived the low fuel scare and had made it through the Gotthard tunnel without any holdups, however, now SALLY was unable to plot the rest of our journey. To ensure SALLY took us through the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland, and not the Mont Blanc tunnel in France, I had set our initial destination to be a service station just before the Gotthard tunnel. As we reached the services, I set the new destination to be Parma, Italy, which was to be an overnight stop on the Monday evening before the final push for Rome on the Tuesday morning.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – why didn’t I set Parma as the final destination with Gotthard as a ‘via’ before we set off? Well, quite simply, with such a long journey plotted into the sat nav, if we had made a mistake or needed to take a detour because of road works or some other issue, it would take a lot longer for the sat nav to recalculate the route and we may have been some distance from an easy ‘u’ turn. So by plotting shorter routes our chances of getting back on the right route more quickly where enhanced. At least that was my thinking!
So, with SALLY plotting our route and She Who Must Be Obeyed in the driving seat, I settled back for my big sleep as we approached the tunnel.
As we emerged from the tunnel, SALLY announced “unable to calculate route to destination”. Her display was just one of a car driving through what appeared to be a desert. There were no roads; there was no land colour – nothing!
What was going on? Many questions sprang to mind.
Had Switzerland and Italy had some sort of falling out whilst we were passing through the tunnel? Had this caused the border to close?
Had the tunnel taken us to some sort of parallel universe where there is no road between Switzerland and Italy?
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?
Maybe Switzerland’s Large Hadron Collider had indeed collided! If the men in white coats are right and the world was created by a big bang from no where, maybe they had played God and created a new world. Maybe the exit of the tunnel from which we had just emerged not only came out in a completely different country on a totally different continent but also on a brand new planet. Who knew where we now were?
So, whilst She Who Must Be Obeyed continued to drive along the motorway, I took SALLY from her mount and started to interrogate her! This was a fairly pointless exercise, as all she would say was “unable to calculate route to destination”! So bleary eyed, I pushed and poked at the touch screen until I figured out what was going on. Fortunately for us, we knew the road we were on was heading toward the Italian border. We knew this for two reasons: we had been this way before, twice, and the road signs pretty much informed us of that!
Never-the-less, SALLY continued to claim she was unable to calculate the route. As with all electronic devices with computer type chips in them, the best method to get them to do what you want is to give them a good kick. This, however, was not really feasible inside the car, so I resorted to the next best method – switch it off, count to ten and switch it back on! Needless to say, that didn’t help, but it used up several minutes, and by the time SALLY had completely restarted, reloaded all the maps and was ready for me to set the required destination, we were approaching the Italian border.
The queues to cross the border were longer than those waiting to get through the tunnel. It looked as though this could take some time, however, She Who Must Be Obeyed, who was still driving at this point, spotted a symbol on the road signs of a car with a trailer. It was pointing to a lane different from the one in which we were queuing. So with some careful manoeuvring across the lanes, we joined the correct queue. Except there was no queue! We were waved straight through into Italy – no waiting! And with that, SALLY suddenly located our destination and plotted the rest of the journey.
It seemed she was as happy to leave Switzerland as we were. 😉
For some reason, SALLY seemed to be missing a great chunk of Switzerland from her map. I was now concerned. Why was she missing that part of Europe, and was she missing any other area I was going to need over the next few weeks? The answer to the former would only be known when I could connect her up to my PC at home and check the installed maps and the answer to the latter would be known sometime during our holiday! However, for now we were back up and running and heading towards Parma. En route we were going to stop for some lunch with at least one of the other families we were supposed to be travelling with (Welsh Weeble, GAY Cabs and their two boys). They had sent us a text message informing of their progress. Somehow, they had got ahead of us and were about a mile further along the road.
Once we pulled into the pre-arranged stop and found an area to sit for lunch, we learned of the plight of the third family on this epic road trip. PC Bob and Wife Upon The Wicked Stage had caught the same ferry as Welsh Weeble and GAY Cabs but had soon opened up a lead on the journey as they were not pulling a trailer. However, they were experiencing even more trouble with their sat nav than we were and at this time hadn’t even reached Italy. And, in a move very uncharacteristic for PC Bob, they hadn’t packed a good old fashioned road map so were very reliant on their sat nav. The reason they were now someway behind us was because their sat nav had been altered from the normal settings. It had been changed to avoid toll roads. As Switzerland is effectively one large toll road (you have to pay to get into the country!), the sat nav was taking them on a mystery tour which included Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria but avoided Switzerland!
This naturally added several miles and hours onto their journey. The moral of this story – always check your sat nav’s settings and route before setting off. And that moral was to come back and haunt me later!
For now, we were comfortably relaxing in a hotel for the night, refreshing ourselves before the final leg of this journey in the morning. PC Bob and Wife Upon The Wicked Stage joined us later that afternoon and over dinner, we all had a good laugh at their misfortune. With hindsight, that was perhaps a foolish thing to do!
More of this journey to come (if you can stick with it)…(here)