After the opera the night before we had a day to kill before our overnight train to Paris, so we hired a car. Again this was no easy feat. Car rental companies and the aggregators love to advertise a car and how great it is, but with the proviso that they can switch it for another model. So I tried hiring a car through an aggregator, they took my money, then immediately tell me that my booking is not confirmed while they contact the provider to confirm. For some reason that took 12 hours, then at 1am tell me they don’t have a car and to call them urgently on a USA number. So my money was locked up with an unresponsive company and preventing me from trying someone else. Scam and sham.
So after waking at 6am to book another car directly with Europcar ( who I’d already sworn off from after Florence) we checked out and took a taxi down to the train station area where we’d booked the car. This time it was exactly as described. It was a manual this time and although I’ve driven a few 100 thousand kilometres in manuals I haven’t driven one in about 10 years. Add to that that everything is reversed on a left hand drive it took me a few stalls to hammer home the message I had to do the gears.
We took the autostrada up to Bozen. We had no idea how much it would cost and had read it cost a lot, but an hour and a half at a nice clip of 130km/h only set us back 10 euros. Along the way the mountains were impressive as were the castles. Equally picturesque are the town’s set high up the hills. It definitely a place I want to explore more of.
Parking in Italy is problematic and Bolzano is no exception. Italy also has a colour coded system of car parking that we did not know about in advance – it turns out white carparks are free, blue are pay ones, yellow for special. The issue with the blue ones is that there’s often no clear way to actually pay.
After driving around a bit we finally found a white marked spot and presuming we were parked legally headed off to the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology to see Otzi. This is a mummified corpse of a man who lived over 5000 years ago. He was apparently carrying a lot of loot with him at the time and the amount they are able to learn from him is amazing. For example his copper axe pushed back the date of the copper age.
We stopped for gelato (of course – it was 36C!) then head back South, but this time deviating to drive down Lake Garda. This was pleasant enough. The wind was up and the was an assortment of yachts of various sizes and kite surfers the length of the very large lake. On the far side the mountains rose straight up from the water in sheer cliffs.
Eventually we made it back to Verona and with a few hours to spare left our bags at the extortionate rate luggage office at the station then headed out for our final pizza in Italy. This was a good one and after a few drinks went back to the station for our train. It was delayed 30 minutes so we chanced it and ran up the road for our last proper Italian gelato. Back at the station our train was delayed several more times – eventually out to 70 minutes. Out on the platform another train was due at the same platform just after our, so it was anyone’s guess which would show up first. It was the other one. Eventually our train arrived – 80 minutes late.
Next: Overnight Train to Paris