Thursday, July 6, 2017

Day 11 - Venice, Bolzano, Alpe di Siusi

July 1
Day 11

We were able to sleep in for the second time all vacation. Since we had arrived at our hotel so late, and then we were gone the whole day at Cinque Terre, we still hadn't officially "checked in" to our hotel. Another place with ridiculous desk hours, I had let them know that we would be there at 9 to get copies made of our passports. The guy was pretty rude and said they didn't have the desk open until 10. WELL MAKE AN EXCEPTION! Urg!!

We stopped to pick up breakfast at the same cafe we had gone to the day before, then we got on our train to head back to Venice.
The only picture I took all day... at the train station
We arrived in Venice around 12:30. I had mapped walking directions of how to get to the rental car company. In a shocking turn of events, we wandered around for over an hour near the port, unable to figure out why our walking directions weren't getting us where we needed to go. We asked someone (who spoke very little English) for help and they directed us back near the bus station, where there were, in fact, car rental companies. However, the car company I had reserved with was not AT that location, and we were directed back where we had been before. We also discovered that it was not even POSSIBLE to walk there, as we had to cross water. Stupid google maps!!!!

By the time we arrived it was after 2:00, and our reservation had been for noon. The company, Sixt, was all locked up. We found a woman working at a tourist shop across the way who attempted to contact them, but with no luck. DANG IT. She let us connect to her wifi and I was able to book another rental car through Avis, for four times the money, and back where we had been before, near the bus station.

We arrived at Avis around 2:30, now over 2 hours after we had arrived in Venice. So frustrating!!! By the time we got all the paperwork done it was after 3. The drive to Alpe di Siusi was supposed to take about 4 hours, and we were all really hungry. I wanted to get out of the downtown area before finding somewhere to stop for food.

The gps directed us on side streets and tiny roads that had us turning every mile or two. I would not be able to replicate the route if I tried. The entire time I was wondering how on earth this could be the best way to get anywhere?? To add insult to injury, all the restaurants along the way were closed - afternoon naps? We finally found a little place where we got some small sandwiches. 

Got back on the road and finally started to enter the hills. I was a bit nervous about driving in this area - the roads were winding and narrow and people in Italy love to tailgate!

We got another hour or so away from Venice when we came to a screeching halt. We sat. And we sat. And then, for good measure, we sat some more. Cars were coming towards us, but we weren't moving AT ALL. People were turning around and telling us to the same. I finally got out and tried to talk to the people in the car in front of me - one of our first experiences with the language barrier, and learned that the road was closed. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to reroute us since we couldn't read any of the signs and we had no idea where we were. Finally we got someone who told us that if we drove about 5k back down the road that we could turn off, cross a bridge and go up the other side of the river and bypass the closure.

The road became only wide enough for one car. AWESOME. Then we arrived at a bridge, also only wide enough for one vehicle. The bridge was super sketchy and when we pulled up to it, the boards moved under the weight of the car. TERRIFYING. A was freaking out thinking I was going to kill us all. Luckily, it held the weight of just one more car, and on we went.

I pulled over at a little shop on the side of the road to buy a drink and connect to wifi. I started to Facebook message our friend Francesca, who is from this part of Italy, to see if she could give us more assistance with our drive. Nothing about it seemed "right" and it was taking substantially longer than we had anticipated. She helped us out by telling us what signs to follow, and I felt confident that I could figure out where to go. I sent another message to our Airbnb to let them know about the traffic situation and that we were going to be delayed and likely wouldn't arrive until after 8. She had said she wasn't going to be there and that we would need to contact her friends at the restaurant to get keys.

The strangest part of the drive was wondering when we going to hit the autobahn tollway. We never did... we kept driving and driving. We weren't seeing any signs for Alpe di Siusi and I was having trouble figuring out where to go. I had put gps coordinates for the airbnb in the gps since the address wouldn't pull up. The gps had us going up a ONE LANE UNPAVED ROAD?? No, this cannot be right!!! I am so pissed off and frustrated by now. We have been driving for over 5 hours, had arrived in Bolzano and STILL had not seen any signs for where we were supposed to go. By now it was getting dark, we were going to be even later than I had thought and we had no clue where to go. Stopped at a grocery store/McDonald's and couldn't connect to their wifi either.

Finally got back in the car and decided to drive into town. I stopped at a Sheraton to see if the front desk might have a map that could help us get on track, since obviously our gps unit AND the "very easy" instructions from our Airbnb weren't getting us anywhere. The woman at the desk had never heard of Alpe di Siusi and just said "not here," and gave me a local city map. Thank goodness that at the very edge of the map I saw "Bolzano Nord," which is the exit we had been looking for all along. Turns out, that exit was off the autobahn that we never figured out how to get on the entire drive up. 

By now it is dark. I am driving on even more mountainous windy roads and still not quite sure how to get to our Airbnb. It is after 10 pm. We attempt to put the address for the restaurant where we are to pick up the keys into the gps and NOTHING. After a bit of dumb luck, we found the turn for Alpe di Siusi ski resort. We happened upon the expo for our race, which seemed to be a good indicator of where to go. I retyped in the coordinates for our Airbnb and we made it there, only to find the entire resort was shut down for the night. After driving for over 7 hours, we had no choice but to pull over into a dirt lot and SLEEP IN THE DAMN CAR.

This was the least happy day of the trip.

Steps - 12,743 steps
Miles - 0

To be continued...

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