I am not superstitious enough to skip number thirteen but you can decide whether it was a lucky day or not.
Not the best night’s sleep but I tidied up and got going by 6.30 am. Delighted to see the roads were empty and I made it out to the autostrada quite quickly.
It was Monday so pretty soon the roads got busy. As long as there were three lanes, it was fine. But once the roads narrowed to two lanes, the trucks were relentless, overtaking aggressively. I found it extremely difficult to manage my stress every time I was overtaken so I decided to pull in to the first Servicio. It was the first time I felt actually shaken by the driving around me. The difference between France and Italy in that sense is enormous. As soon as you leave the Frejus tunnel you notice the difference. I had different troubles to bother me yesterday so the actual driving wasn’t the most obvious thing.
I decided to take a rest at the servicio and stayed there about three hours. I ventured out again at about 10.30am feeling a bit better. At the Italina sevicio, there is always an attendant who will pour the petrol or put air in the tyres. Its amazing who you get heart from – the attendant said to be tranquillo and the traffic would not be too much. So off I went and decided to go more slowly this time, on the basis that I was going to get taken over anyway so I might as well be able to handle it at a lower speed. That lasted about an hour and a half and I stopped again. This time, it started to pour rain and a regular thunder storm began. There was no way I was going out in that. After a few hours, it cleared up and I again ventured out. This time, I decided to go faster, 60 mph which is what the trucks do. It took a bit of guts to do that but it was the right thing to do. Less of them overtook me and I obviously made better time. I really had to up my act – its as if they were saying either keep up with the traffic or get out of the kitchen. I did get blown by several of the trucks, once I got a particularly long blast from an irate driver I had slowed down taking a difficult, twisty off ramp. Next time I stopped, decided I would sleep and drive through the night. This was about 5.20 pm. I was wrecked and I slept until 2330. I woke and as luck would have it, caught my son on the phone as he came in from work, in Dublin. I really needed to get this road behind me, and again I had an encouraging chat with the attendant.
The plan worked. I rolled in to Cattolica at 5am. I skipped Rimini as my mother had holidayed in Cattolica many years ago and it was an emotional decision. Not too exhausted, but happy to have made real progress.
I waited around on the beach until the campsite opened. The reviews of the campsite talked about an unpleasant guy on reception. I had checked with the attendant who was on earlier who said I should come back at 7.30. When I did, that attendant was gone and the guy with the reputation was at the desk. He said we don’t open until 8. I told him what the other guy had said. He told me he had only started yesterday and I was now blocking the entrance. I talked a little bit about the customer being right and got right up his nose. Then he told there was no space. I didn’t argue anymore and left.
I found another location which was not quite a campsite, more like a car park with electricity and water. It was a hundred times less cramped than the last place so I decided to stay. The young man taking the money was extremely nervous and clearly terrified of his boss. When I had handed over twenty euro for the caravan, he said the day would go from midnight the night before to midnight of that day. I said it was one night and that was all I was paying for. The poor guy. He then lifted €5 off me for the car. The next thing was, he came over and said his boss wanted me to put my car in front of the caravan so they could get someone else in beside me. I said no way at this. I said no toilets, no showers and now this. I used gestures as much as I could as I am picking up fast from the Italians. I asked him how his boss knew where my car was. We agreed that if the boss came down, I would move it. Given that the vast majority of the place was empty, this was the fairest solution. The young man had been to Ireland and said he is not greedy like his boss.
I plonked myself on the beach for the day and wondered what would happen when I left the next morning. I cannot understand what took my mother and her friend to Cattolica. Its nightlife is lively but I know Eva and herself were there in pursuit of culture. Or am I completely stupid.